Chile Becomes A Prime Destination For Spain’s Underemployed “Mileuristas”
Op-Ed: The economic crisis in Spain is prompting many young professionals to seek better opportunities overseas. A popular destination for these so-called mileuristas – educated Spaniards who can’t earn more than 1,000 euros a month – is up-and-coming Chi
SANTIAGO -- No doubt a sizable portion of the 586 work visas Chile issued last year to Spanish citizens went to people who qualify as mileuristas. The term is now used to describe young Spanish professionals who, despite having language skills and post-graduate degrees, can't find jobs in Spain paying more than 1,000 euros (mil euros) per month. As such, mileuristas can't afford things like cars or homes, let alone support a family.
The term was coined in 2005 by a then 27-year-old well-educated Catalonian woman who couldn't find gainful employment. Seven years later it is describes an entire generation of professionals who are struggling not only with a serious economic crisis, but also with a labor market over-saturated with qualified candidates. The situation is pushing some mileuristas to seek better conditions overseas, especially in Latin America. Naturally, some of these new immigrants are landing in Chile, home to one of the world's emerging economies.
Between 2007 and 2011, the flow of Spanish professionals to Chile rose 92%. Currently there are 40,492 Spanish citizens in Chile, up 20% last year alone. The trend is mutually beneficial, since Chilean firms – particularly in the technology, energy and mining sectors – that face a shortage of qualified local professionals are keen to recruit Spanish engineers and technicians. As Chile continues to develop, those kinds of opportunities are likely to expand even more.
Andrés Poch, president of Chile's Association of Civil Engineers made just that point during a visit last month to Toronto, Canada, where he explained that the explosive growth of the sector during the coming years will create thousands of professional posts. Chile, he said, will be interested in attracting Spanish engineers to satisfy the demand and make up for the shortage of qualified locals.
Over the past year, unemployment fell nearly a full percentage point in Chile. In Spain, meanwhile, unemployment is rising – up 9.63% in March compared to the same month last year. Overall, there are 4.7 million people out of work, equivalent to approximately 25% of the population, according to official government figures. Expect the mileuristas to keep marching this way.
Read the original article in Spanish
Photo - Ben Witte
*Lucy Krell is an executive with the Santiago, Chile office of CT Partners.