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Labor Market

Helping Spanish migrants find their feet in Germany

Back home, they've run out of options. That's why more and more Spaniards are trying their luck on the German job market. "Destino Alemania" helps them to settle in.

“Muy buenas, espanoles y espanolas, comunidad hispanoparlante de Alemania.” That's how Jose Gayarre welcomes his Spanish-speaking listeners in Germany.

He's producing his weekly radio show, "Funk Radio," with just a laptop, a microphone and a mixing desk. Behind him, the wall is padded with a piece of foam to absorb unwanted sounds. This is enough for Gayarre and a few colleagues to put together a show in his flat in Cologne's city center.

"Funk Radio" explains to young Spanish jobseekers how Germany works and gives them practical advice on what forms they need to fill in, as well as how to deal with job centers and other government agencies.

Jose Gayarre, sitting at the microphone in his home studio (Copyright: DW/Ralf Bosen)

Jose Gayarre is the founder of 'Destino Alemania'

The presenters also advise people on finding a place to stay, and give hints and tips on German daily life, habits, and cultural values.

High demand

Gayarre's show is available as a podcast on the website of the "Destino Alemania" ("Destination Germany") network.  

It all started with a simple Facebook page. "We had a small group on Facebook for Spaniards living here," he explains. "Because of the economic crisis, the group kept getting bigger and bigger." People were specifically asking for practical advice. "That's when we decided to establish a website, where information could stay up long-term."

In 2009, the page was renamed Destino Alemania. The online community grew from just a few dozen to around 12,000 people. Every few seconds, new posts run like a ticker across the screen. Gayarre is constantly online, monitoring the activity on the site. Can he ever take a break for a few hours? He smiles, and says he can't really imagine it.

It's modern technology that makes all this possible. "Twenty years ago, there was practically no Internet; there was no Skype, no Facebook, no YouTube. Now, we have the technology to make immigration much easier," he says.

Screen showing the webpage of Destino Alemania (Copyright: DW/Ralf Bosen)

The network started with a Facebook page

Before, if you had to fill in a certain form and you weren't sure how to do it, you had to find someone who spoke Spanish. "Today, we can exchange that information on the Web," Gayarre explains.

Award-winning show

Destino Alemania is a success story that has even bagged a "European Citizen's Prize" from the EU. Gayarre invested the 1,000-euro prize money in a new microphone and mixing desk for his podcast. 

The project relies on people working as volunteers. Gayarre and his colleagues do bring in some money through advertising, but they also work as freelance journalists.

Gayarre is already busy with his next project - an app that pulls together relevant information from different social networks. IT specialist Francisco Estevez, who moved to Germany a year ago, helped with the technical side.

"When I came to Cologne, I didn't know anyone, so I looked on the Internet and found the Facebook page for Spaniards," Estevez says. "That's how I met people who'd already been here a while."

People queueing at the job center in Spain (EPA/FERNANDO VILLAR dpa)

Unemployment is high in Spain, especially among young people

Like many of his fellow countrymen and women, Estevez could not find work in Spain. Most of his friends have also moved abroad. "We're IT specialists and we get hired by all sorts of companies," he says. "One of my friends recently found work in the Netherlands. Another is in Dublin. I also have friends in England and France. We do get around a lot."

But finding a job in Germany is not always straightforward, even if, like Estevez, you're highly qualified. His German is not yet good enough. "It's very hard for me to find a job. Most companies are looking for fully integrated staff - those who can communicate well in German." Estevez adds that his CV is usually ignored in Germany because of his lack of German.

Language is a constant subject of debate on Destino Alemania, says Gayarre. If you want to succeed in Germany, you need to speak the language. "But you also have to be willing to start a new life in Germany and not just continue with your old, Spanish, life," he adds. "That doesn't work. You'll feel all nostalgic about Spain and get homesick, and that makes you unhappy."

Gayarre, for his part, feels that he has really settled in. Winning the "Citizens' Europe" award has really motivated him, he says. He knows now that people in Germany are genuinely interested in what he's doing.

DW.DE