Crisis-hit professionals seek jobs in Germany
FRANKFURT “I WAS at the top of my career, earning well, and now I’m back at the bottom,” says Elena Nunez-Arenas, one of thousands from debtwracked eurozone countries seeking work in Germany, Europe’s powerhouse.
The 44-year-old from Madrid is a fully qualified lawyer and jumped at the chance to leave crisis-mired Spain for the possibility of a new career in Frankfurt, Germany’s financial centre.
“Last November or December, my situation became so difficult in Spain that I decided on a whim to leave,” she told AFP with a sad smile.
“I have a cousin who has lived in Frankfurt for years who kept telling me ‘you’ll find a job here’,” she said.
But Nunez-Arenas fell into what she describes as “the overqualification trap.” She cannot secure a job as a lawyer in Germany without passing a tough German law exam, which is out of the question due to her limited language skills.
And even with her savings dwindling, the prospect of a “mini-job” in the kitchens at Frankfurt Airport at eight euros ($10.50) per hour does not exactly thrill her.
“I would not have been able to study on the side. I would have had to be available at all hours. And for those wages, I could have done the same thing in Spain,” she said.
Nunez-Arenas is one of nearly 17,000 people who came to Germany last year from countries in the south of Europe weighed down by debt — Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy.
According to data published this week by Germany’s federal statistics agency Destatis, the number of new arrivals from these countries increased by 1.7 percent year-on-year in 2011.