She Left Her Country to Look for a Job

Like many young people her age, my daughter was caught by surprise upon completion of her professional training. In the spring she returned to Spain with the intention of looking for a job here — it didn’t really matter what, as long as she could “do her thing.” She got a few interviews, but the conditions that were offered to her always seemed to be abusive: a mere salary, 400 € a month, for a person with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, who speaks four languages, and who has worked abroad. Such salaries aren’t enough to eat or rent a room in the cities where they’re offered. She would have needed help from her parents — something we were willing to do. But our daughter didn’t want to keep being dependent on us — as this support would in fact subsidize the same employers that are taking advantage of our young people.

This post from a father in Spain about watching his daughter get fed up with applying for jobs in a country where the unemployment rate for young people is 50 percent and being forced to look for opportunities abroad is very good. The father, a research professor, is repulsed that the media refers to young people as a “lost generation,” because he says he comes from an “irresponsible” generation that threw the country into an economic crisis. Sounds familiar.

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14 Comments / Post A Comment

An irresponsible generation didn’t throw Spain into an economic crisis — irresponsible bankers on Wall Street, irresponsible foreign real estate speculators, and irresponsibly tight-fisted European monetary policy did.

Also recall that as recently as 2006 Spain had a lower unemployment rate and better fiscal situation than Germany, and was being touted (along with now-bankrupt Ireland) as the forward-looking economic model for “old Europe” to follow, thanks in part to its more flexible labor market…

Nick (#1,548)

@stuffisthings Spain also had the largest housing bubble in the entire EU…

Megano! (#124)

Bright side: at least Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, so there’s lots of places TO go?

@Megano! Unfortunately the richest Latin American country (on a per-capita GDP/PPP basis) is still only about half as rich as Spain.

sintaxis (#2,363)

@Megano! Well, but there aren’t really a whole lotta places they can go in the EU with their Spanish. They’d have to get a work visa for anywhere else, and that’s pretty hard.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@Megano! She speaks four languages, so that should help her!
And it doesn’t matter about rich countries in Latin America. She can still move to one, get a job, and take care of herself, even without the opportunity to be “rich”.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

I have been really surprised by how few young Americans have turned expat when faces with a similar lack of opportunity. I know that Americans tend to be a bit less mobile than Europeans web it comes to traveling or living abroad, but with dimming opportunities at home I’m still genuinely surprise that more members of my generation aren’t seeking out opportunities elsewhere.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@EvanDeSimone It looks like only 33% of Americans even have passports, so I don’t think it’s that surprising that people don’t leave the country for work. Shoot, in my city people get upset when their family members move over the bridge to another state that is only 30 minutes away! When I graduated from college, a lot of the education majors (and their mothers) complained that they might have to move to find a teaching job. They really wanted to stay in state.
I don’t understand this at all, but I definitely believe it.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@josefinastrummer I have heard that statistic before and it still totally blows my mind. Still I think not also has to do with the “land of opportunity” narrative we were brougt up with. I think many people have difficulty envisioning a world I which it is necessary to look outside the US for a better quality of life.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@EvanDeSimone I agree. I think Americans and non-American alike think it’s crazy to leave the “land of opportunity” when so many are trying to come here for work! But a lot of immigrants do different kinds of work that a lot of Americans can’t or won’t do. And if you stay home, perhaps a family member will support you and that’s not so easy if you are living far away.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@josefinastrummer That is actually something that hadn’t occurred to me. In y mind the existence of online communication via Skype and social media would make it easier to live further from one’s family. The idea that it’s harder to receive monetary assistance actually hadn’t occurred to me. Good observation.

pearl (#153)

@EvanDeSimone The only thing really stopping me is the difficulty of finding a job abroad (particularly Europe for myself) and acquiring a visa. Alas, citizenship boundaries.

josefinastrummer (#1,850)

@pearl I know you said Europe but I think it can be pretty easy to move to Argentina or Chile and pick up a job and get a visa. I think Buenos Aires is very cosmopolitan and “Europe” like at probably half the cost!

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

@pearl Depending on what you’re looking for you might try somewhere with less stringent visa requirements. Parts of south America are pretty easy as is Australia. The job market in Australia also favors skilled workers and young people with degrees.

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