Germany and Spain have signed an agreement that will place up to 5,000 young Spaniards each year in German jobs or apprenticeships, the Financial Times reported.
The deal, signed by their respective labour ministers on Tuesday, is not believed to be legally binding; but appears to act as a solution for both Spain’s chronic youth unemployment and Germany’s present shortage of skilled workers.
Fátima Báñez, Spain’s employment minister, described the agreement as “a big step forward in supporting young people in Europe”, highlighting that the deal would soon be followed by additional measures to improve job prospects for young people in both countries.
"Each year nearly 5,000 young Spaniards will be able to benefit from vocational opportunities or even from stable and skilled jobs in Germany," Báñez said after signing the deal with her German counterpart Ursula von der Leyen.
The deal offers "the determined and sincere support of all the public administrations in Germany to young people who want to train and have skilled work in the coming years,” she noted, as cited by AFP.
Youth unemployment in Spain – classified as those aged from 16-24 – presently stands at 57 percent. In contrast, there are about 33,000 apprenticeships left unfulfilled and “about one million open jobs” in Germany, according to von der Leyen.
"In Germany we have a shortage of qualified personnel. We have one million open jobs, desperately looking for people who can fill them," she told a conference on youth employment in Madrid.
The German Labour Minister also said that local companies were likely to welcome Spanish workers with “open arms”, as cited by Deutsche Welle, highlighting the rising number of Spaniards already seeking employment in Germany. As of 2012, 43,548 Spanish workers were registered with the German Social Security system.
Economists FT spoke to however questioned whether the agreement would make any meaningful difference.
Marcel Jansen, a labour market expert and professor of economics at Madrid’s Autonoma University noted that 5,000 additional jobs were hardly significant when about 1.8 million Spaniards under the age of 30 are still jobless.
“I appreciate the fact that other countries reach out and offer opportunities to Spanish unemployed. But this is also a sign that Spain itself has not taken decisive action [to reform the labour market],” Jansen said.
“Labour migration should be the last option. We should make a maximum effort here to make the labour market work better and create jobs for young people here. And we should create the conditions for foreign firms to come here and create work,” he added.