Spanish Youth in Exile: “We're Not Leaving, They're Kicking Us Out!”

Youth unemployment in Spain, one of the tragic consequences of the crisis that this country is living through, stands at 55.6%. Last year, the European Union called for urgent action to combat this alarming number. After 15 months in office, the People's Party (PP) finally presented a Plan for Youth Employment [es] (with a Twitter account at @empleo_joven) while simultaneously assuring that the country will overcome the crisis. They have talked about “green sprouts” as a symbol of the supposed economic recovery. The people feel otherwise, and insecurity continues to expand [es] since the last labor reform. Spanish labor unions have given warning that if this plan does not tally with the growth measures, its effect could be limited.

In 2012, the number of Spanish youths (between the ages of 15 and 29) residing abroad rose to 302,623 [es], not counting those who have not registered in their host countries’ consulates. Many have gone abroad for economic reasons related to the lack of employment in Spain or poor contract conditions. The Juventudes sin Futuro (Youth Without a Future) movement has launched a campaign entitled “We're not leaving, they're kicking us out” [es], with a Twitter hashtag with the same name, in response to the current labor problems. The initiative debunks statements from Marina de Corral that attribute the exile to “young peoples’ spirit of adventure.” [es] The campaign's blog has different sections, one of which is dedicated to mapping out young people looking for a better future in different parts of the world, with some never finding it. They explain it in the blog in the following way:

Portada El Diagonal.

El Diagonal Homepage.

Si bien es cierto que la media europea de paro juvenil (un 22,5%) es muy inferior a la española, encontrar trabajo no está garantizado. Y más allá de Europa, l@s jóvenes españoles están empezando a optar por otros destinos como Latinoamérica y Asia. Generalmente, los trabajos que realizan l@s jóvenes en el extranjero también se encuentran caracterizados por la precariedad, con jornadas laborales muy largas y sueldos muy bajos que no aseguran una vida digna, y menos un futuro.


While it is true that the average youth unemployment in Europe (22.5%) is much less than its equivalent in Spain, finding a job is not guaranteed. And beyond Europe, Spanish youths are starting to opt for other destinations such as Latin America and Asia. Generally speaking, the jobs that young people get abroad are also characterized by instability, with long working hours and low wages that do not ensure a decent life, and even less so a future.

Jóvenes en condiciones precarias. Foto tomada con permiso de la web gritopolí

Youth in unstable conditions. Photo taken with permission from gritopolí

By clicking on various points on the map [es], we are able to access the stories and experiences of the young people in exile:

Marcos, 26, has gotten an indefinite contract as an Engineer of Roads, Canals, and Ports in Austria. He explains his motives behind his decision to leave Spain:

Tras casi un año buscando, recibiendo negativas (los pocos que contestaban) y perdiendo el tiempo, decidí transformar la desesperación en nuevos retos.

After almost a year of searching, receiving rejection letters (from the few that responded), and wasting time, I decided to transform despair into new challenges.

Others have not been so lucky. Such is the case of Alex, an unemployed emigrant in Romania, who would like to return home since his situation is not improving:

Llevaba viviendo en España desde los 14 años y este año después de hartarme de pedir para comer, migre a Rumanía donde tenía familia. Esto te destruye mentalmente ya que mi vida se construyó en España donde tenía amistades, conocidos y todo mi mundo. Ahora me quedan los recuerdos de lo que un día tuve.

I had been living in Spain since I was 14 years old and this year, after getting tired of asking for money for food, I emigrated to Romania where I had family. This destroys you mentally since my life was built in Spain where I had friends, acquaintances, my entire world. Now all I have left is memories of what I once had.

Raquel, 25, previously a teacher in Spain, has to conform to having a job without a contract in Ireland as an au pair:

Después de acabar la carrera de Magisterio y un Máster empecé a trabajar como maestra en España. Con el tiempo empezaron los recortes en educación…y luego se acabó el trabajo para los más jóvenes. Después de malvivir con trabajos temporales (cuando los había) durante un año decidí que era hora de hacer las maletas e ir a buscar nuevos objetivos. Aquí estoy ahora, en contacto con la “educación” y mejorando mi inglés… Más de lo que podía pedir en mi tierra!

After receiving my undergraduate and graduate degrees in education, I began working as a teacher in Spain. With time came cuts to education… and later the jobs ended for most young people. After barely making it with temp jobs (when I could get them) for a year, I decided it was time to pack my backs and go in search of new objectives. Here I am now, in contact with “education” and improving my English… More than I could ask for in my country!

Many wish to return to their country of origin but are aware that Spain, at the moment, does not offer stability nor the prospect of a decent future, but rather a greater dependency on family and unstable work conditions, if any at all.


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