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Spain’s brain drain: Young talent flees crisis

Published time: December 08, 2011 05:52
Edited time: December 08, 2011 09:52

Spain, Malaga's airport (AFP Photo / Jorge Guerrero)

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To get a firm grip on Europe's debt, member states have imposed strict austerity measures, with southerners suffering most. As millions of unemployed people in Spain fight over what few jobs there are, the young and talented are heading abroad.

­It may start off as a simple trip, for example to Peru or Argentina, but once they get there, many Spaniards realize there are a lot more opportunities for them outside Spain. More than 1.5 million Spaniards presently reside outside of their home country, according to the latest statistics.

A lot of them have left in the last couple of years, like Martixell Diaz, a journalist from Madrid who moved to Argentina two years ago.

“Already then people were losing jobs. All of my university friends were either fired, or were looking for something new, or watched their salaries being cut. The situation was bad then – now, more than a year later, it’s even worse,” she told RT.

At more than 24 per cent, Spain’s unemployment rate is one of the highest in the eurozone. Paying a monthly mortgage bill is a challenge for many and evictions have become an unfortunate but familiar sight. No wonder many are starting to look for a way out of what seems to be a hopeless situation.

“Now people are taking a very bleak view of the medium and the long-term future, and a lot of Spaniards are looking at moving abroad,” says Guy Hedgecoe, co-editor of the Spanish news website Iberosphere.

Unfortunately for Spain, they seem to be precisely the kind of people who should be staying – young to middle aged, well-educated people who speak two or tree languages.

“Naturally, if there are no jobs in Spain, people have to go elsewhere, be that Europe or Latin America,” Diaz believes.

In fact, the situation in Spain seems so desperate that even those who immigrated here several years ago are now also packing their bags and heading back home. It’s no surprise, because even Spanish citizens are struggling to find jobs, and they get preference over immigrant workers.

“For many years we had a positive migration flow – that is, more people were coming in. Now it’s negative. Each family may list their own reasons for leaving, but I believe the economic crisis which hit us is the main reason,”
explains Salvador Victoria, Madrid City Council social affairs adviser.

Recent general elections saw the demise of the leftist Socialist Party, who made way for the right-wing People’s Party. But many economists agree: no matter who is in charge, they will have to follow the thorny path of implementing more austerity measures. This means that bright young things desperate for a job will continue to seek opportunities elsewhere.