Seeking to flee extraordinarily high rates of unemployment in their country, thousands of young Spaniards are seeking to find jobs in Germany.
Burdened by the highest unemployment rate in the European Union at a surreal 20.6 percent, Spain has more than 4-million people jobless.
The German branch of Eures, the European employment service, is being besieged by requests from Spain for available positions. The Spanish economy remains paralyzed by the recession – joblessness is above 20 percent (over 4-million people are out of work) and signs of recovery are fleeting. [Among Spaniards under the age of 35, the jobless rate is an astounding 40 percent.]
In sharp contrast, German unemployment (7.4 percent) is among the lowest in Europe, exports are surging, and GDP expanded by 3.6 percent
Should this mass exodus pick up speed, it would hearken back to the 1960s, when thousands of Spaniards made a similar trek north. However, that migration involved poorer, uneducated, rural Spaniards attracted to the promise of factory jobs in Germany. In the new century, Germany wants high-skilled workers who can speak German fluently.
Laura Gonzalez, assistant professor of finance and business economics at Fordham University in New York, said Spaniards are expected to study a second language besides English to be competitive in the job market.
“French used to be an option, it still is if you want to build up the resume quickly (Spanish and French are very similar languages), but German is supposed to be more useful (and impressive),” she said. “The main problem Spaniards face is that the European Union has been slow at validating degrees across borders.”
To that end, Spain and Germany recently introduced a joint plan to help qualified Spaniards find jobs in Deutschland.
Spain's Ministry of Work and the Germany Embassy in Madrid unveiled a list of sectors of Germany’s economy that needs workers, including health, engineering, teaching, tourism and catering.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has specifically called for qualified, German-speaking unemployed Spaniards to fill available jobs.