Careering Ahead

Sauerkraut and bratwurst for Spanish doctors

Global politics are well beyond my understanding. Two facts are clear however – Spain continues to suffer from a major economic crisis and our government is useless.

What I find harder to understand are the offers of help that Europe is providing us with. A few days ago, Mrs Merkel offered jobs for up to half a million highly qualified Spanish workers. How kind! Germany is hoping to get an extra large bunch of medical specialists, nurses and engineers.

She will not, however, be offering any of our several hundred thousand illegal immigrants or construction workers or cleaners a job. Mrs Merkel is after our ‘best people’, the highly trained, the ones that have been expensive to produce. It would be laughable if it wasn’t tragic.

The funny thing is that there aren’t many jobless docs these days, the times back in the 1980s and 1990s when you kicked over a stone to find ten doctors underneath are long gone. However, our working conditions are not good. I’m not particularly talking about salaries – while the income is at the bottom end of old European countries it’s still fairly decent. Doctors’ working conditions, in terms of secure contracts, are a disaster; people in their late forties have to pass bureaucratic exams in order to secure their positions and avoid having to move towns. It’s pathetic.

Our health system is used to an excess of doctors and as a professional group we are treated with contempt. There is little pride after years of being simply grateful for having a job.

The numbers of doctors moving out of Spain are difficult to calculate. People leave quietly, independently; they don’t leave a trace or enter any database. However, our Organización Medica Colegial gathers that almost 1,200 doctors moved out in 2010, 56% more than the previous year.


Back in the 1960’s and even 1970’s many thousands of unskilled Spanish workers moved to Germany to make a living, mostly waiters and hotel keepers, the benefits were equal for both countries. The situation is hardly the same in 2011, the way I see it Spain is struggling to take off from a deep recession and Germany is taking advantage of it. Despicable.

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8 Responses to “Sauerkraut and bratwurst for Spanish doctors”

  1. chrissa says:

    all european countries need to guard their frontiers properly and protect europe from illegal immigration – it applies to everyone. a huge bulk of spain’s illegal immigrants move on – towards the uk and germany because the benefit system in these countries is easier to exploit than in spain.

    as for germany competing for spain’s best workers: spain, like ireland, did not run an economy but a casino during the start of the millennium. from 2003 on, everyone with half a brain knew that what was going on in the real estate (property) market had nothing to do with serious business but was an orgy of gambling. the only surprise of the crash was that it took so long to arrive.

    the labour market, like everything, is competitive. to call germany’s action of competing for good workers “despicable” is childish and to mourn the fact that the workers (doctors) are now having a chance to get in the driving seat is just silly.

  2. Monica lalanda says:

    Thanks for commenting, Chrissa.
    I agree the situation with our economy is largely self-inflicted, mostly due to our flippant government. However, that is no excuse for Germany to turn up and pretend they are offering us help by taking away something that is expensive to grow and not in excess. Yes, call me simplistic or childish but I see that as abuse of power.

    And regarding the “driving seat”, well…., it is less than a year since the German doctors went on strike and it wasn’t the first time, was it? Britain seemed full of german doctors as far as I remember, who were unhappy enough to leave the country. It doesn’t sound as if moving to Germany is a medical paradise to me.

    Good luck to Germany in its search for qualified and skilled workers. Most spanish people speak only english or french as second language, anyway.

  3. Laura says:

    Hola Monica – being Spanish myself, i would like to distance myself from your “Germany Bashing”. You seem to have lived in England for too long and gotten infected with the typical English habit of blaming all of one’s woes on Germany. It certainly does not reflect the mood in Spain. In the contrary – the University Graduates are very happy to have a choice and not be forced to linger on as part of the “Lost Generation”. It is the biggest benefit for good people to have the right to work everywhere in the EU!

  4. Monica lalanda says:

    Gracias , Laura.
    I consider bashing or being critical a way of helping to move forward. Whether is england, german or spain bashing just depends on the situation (I have no preference!!!).
    I agree that people should move wherever they want to and whenever they want and of course I have done it myself (twice!). In fact it should be almost compulsory to spend some time abroad. nobody is talking about rights here. My point however is quite different, for a stronger country to try and take away qualified people whith the excuse of being of help is unacceptable.
    The university graduates have always had the choice, it’s there for you to take.

  5. joshek says:

    Although Spanish is a global language with a fast growing number of mother tongue speakers, a lot of Spanish people learn German. Naturally this a logical by-product of the tourist industry being an important part of the economy, but, in sharp contrast to England, the notion of learning a language as part of a proper academic education is well established in Spain. This is why many Spanish graduates can make the most of the EU and the freedom to roam it offers all its citizens – in sharp contrast to the English, whose education system leaves them “linguistically challenged”. Young Spaniards moving to Germany will speak the language after 3 to 6 months.

  6. chrissa says:

    monica – the economic mess is actually not mostly due to your “flippant governement” but due to half the population playing monopoly with money they did not have – i.e. paying ridiculous prices for property with cheap and ready available mortgages in the hope to re-sell after a little while for even more ridiculous prices … the government had no leverage to stop this – only the ECB, they should have raised interest rates – but that would have killed exports and the places with a real economy. the irish and spanish crash have been caused by the irish and spanish people playing property tycoon and the banks allowing them to do so despite knowing better.

    greece is a bit different – there the worst spendthrift is the government – their spending for weapons alone was (and still is by the way) ludicrous.

  7. Monica lalanda says:

    Chrissa, you seem to be forgetting a tiny, weenie detail here. The Spanish crisis is only part of a global financial crisis born in the USA and caused by the whole world playing monopoly with money they didn’t have and the banks in the whole world allowing them to do so. The speed of response of each government to the economic situation is what has made a difference; unfortunately ours completely failed to do so.
    Who is making a childish analysis here?
    And by the way, expressing strong and even offensive comments sounds much better if signed.

  8. cuchillero says:

    Spain is doing exactly the same importing docs from South America and Eastern Europe to fill the gap. It is a real shame that bright young graduates must go elsewhere for a better living while non-EU nationals for instance are coming and picking up the declining life standards in Spain. It is hard to blame Mrs Merkel for attracting our able countrymen professionals yet I would rather say that is just the opposite; it is a great opportunity and a pride for them to realise that there is life outside our borders and all that effort and investment in education will not be wasted as a result of national politicians’ sheer incompetence. No doubt they will be very well looked after in Germany indeed.

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