News

Stagnant Economy Forces Portuguese to Look Toward Former Colonies for Work

Three Portuguese workers, who started a social media campaign to vent their frustration at grim career prospects amid an acute economic crisis (file photo)
Three Portuguese workers, who started a social media campaign to vent their frustration at grim career prospects amid an acute economic crisis (file photo)
Dominic Laurie

Portuguese are no strangers to emigration. In the 1960s, they looked to richer countries on their doorstep, like Germany and Switzerland, for work. But now much of Europe is struggling economically alongside Portugal. So, they are looking to their former colonies for opportunity.

The lines of people outside the Angolan consulate in the dock area of Lisbon are long and stretch around the corner.

A few years ago, the clamor among Portuguese to visit their former colony would not have been this strong. But Angola's economy has grown at 10 percent every year for most of the last decade.  Compared to Portugal - forecast to shrink three percent this year - Angola looks like a paradise.

Fourteen percent of people in Portugal are out of work. There’s been a seven-fold rise in the number of Portuguese applying for work permits in Angola in recent years. The African former colony is now the third biggest source of money sent back home to Portugal, so the government is actively encouraging some of its unemployed citizens to emigrate.  Andre Mendes and Caterina Alvarez, two graduate students in Lisbon, are listening.


"For someone who has good studies, good university, a masters degree, it's not that difficult to find a job," said Mendes. "But maybe it's not our dream job. And if we think about long term perspectives and building up a career, it's easier to go abroad."

"There are a lot of opportunities but they are mainly trainee programs or internships, where you start a contract signed for six months or one year," said Caterina Alvarez. "After that, it's not very likely that you stay in the company....That's why people are more likely to go abroad to start in a fast-growing market that they see that they have more opportunities to stay and grow in a company."

Sitting beside Andre and Caterina in their university cafeteria is Andreia Domingues. She moved to Brazil a few years ago, and works for a new company that has grown from 200 to 800 employees in the short time she has been there. She says Portuguese often have an advantage over local Brazilians.

"I think the ability to speak English is a great advantage for Portuguese people," said Domingues. "I had that experience when I was trying to recruit my team. I interviewed like 20 people and some of them said that they spoke, fluently, English. And when I tried to develop a conversation in English clearly they weren't as prepared as Portuguese people."

Andre, Caterina and Andreia study or studied at Catholic University in Lisbon. You might imagine the institution is worried by the lack of faith its students are showing in Portugal’s economy. Not so. The rise of Brazil, Angola and other Portuguese-speaking countries is actually benefiting them, as Ana Ribeiro, who runs the graduate business program there, explains.

"We're getting more and more international students. For instance, we are getting more and more Germans," said Ribeiro. "They want to learn the language. Though we teach in English, they can learn in Portuguese while they are studying here, so this is an opportunity for them that are looking for jobs, for instance, in Brazil."

Portugal's economy is shrinking, and many of its best and brightest are going abroad for work - possibly never to return. But with language and trade links to Africa and South America, many Portuguese see emigration as their salvation.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs