Nov 8, 2012

Graphic designer to dishwasher: Spain’s ‘ni-ni’ gen move Down Under

Youth unemployment in Spain sits at 50%, prompting many to flee and try and make their way in Australia. Kevin Ponniah reports on the youth that were promised prosperity.

On a dark and chilly Melbourne night, José Ortega was taking a quick break in the laneway behind the Robert Burns Hotel, a Spanish pub and restaurant in Fitzroy. A dishwasher — also Spanish — was taking out the restaurant bins. As he wheeled them past, he stopped and turned to José.

He told him he used to be a successful graphic designer, working for a large Spanish firm and living a party lifestyle on a generous salary. “He told me: ‘I used to walk into a bar to meet big clients, and I would be served straight away, you know, ‘get this guy a drink, he’s important.’ And now, I’m taking the bins out. I can’t believe it’,” said Ortega.

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6 thoughts on “Graphic designer to dishwasher: Spain’s ‘ni-ni’ gen move Down Under

  1. David Hand

    It’s probably too simplistic to identify a root cause for such an outcome in Spain. But the cheap Euro money has to be close to the answer.

    Spain should exit the Euro. The new currency would fall and stabilise at a fraction of the Euro. This would make all those half finished home cheaper for foreigners to buy. It would stimulate exports and tourism the economy would start to grow and young people would get jobs.

    The downside it that everyone would take a bath with their asset values but the truth of the matter is that when one in four is idle, you’re pissing wealth away anyway.

    The Euro zone is rapidly becoming an absurd achronism in the worls today as countries outside the customs and tarrif barrier rapidle become wealthier than those inside.

  2. Christopher Nagle

    When financial ruin lands you in the ordure patch of history, all the solutions are shitty. We can only thank our lucky stars we are sitting on an awful lot of ‘wealth for toil’ and a banking system which is still sufficiently old fashioned to be properly regulated.

  3. tonyfunnywalker

    It is so sad, such a vibrant country with brilliant, food, wine. At least we can now enjoy some authentic tapas and paella.

  4. Dogs breakfast

    It is a Shakespearean tragedy, isn’t it.

    All that false wealth, and I have no doubt that many who caused the problems aren’t the ones suffering.

    Spain’s loss is our gain, one way or another. Oz is in the position of wanting young adults if only for demographic purposes.

    How lucky we are, how lucky we have been. Somehow sufficiently separate from a moribund Europe, sufficiently separated from what seems a politically moribund USA.

    And here we sit. Donald Horne’s words still ring true, the full quote that is, not just the lucky country bit.

    How long will our luck hold?

  5. Daniel Salom

    Hi all,

    My name is Daniel and I am from Barcelona. I moved to Australia 18 months ago after almost 3 years getting ready for the move.

    I am disappointed for reading comments saying that Spain should leave the Euro, I am sorry but I can not agree with that statement because I truly believe Europe must stay together when things go well and not so well.

    As some people pointed out when a country is struggling there are always other countries taking benefit of it so please lets be constructive and try to move on all together, because Spain may not be in a good position now but we have contributed to the EU for over 26 years.

    Politicians should start doing their job and create laws and regulations to avoid this happening again, and stop confronting each other.

    My experience moving to Australia

    My story is quite different to that of Jose Ortega, I didn’t move to Australia because of the financial crisis. I work in IT as UI/interaction designer (I have a graphic design background) and always had work in Barcelona. I decided to take the step before all this started.

    My experience moving to Australia has been quite success; first I lived in Adelaide and worked for a local agency on a project for the local Government. I met amazing people along the way but the city was too quiet for me. So after a short trip to Melbourne I decided moving to Melbourne where I found a job in a very success IT company where I currently work.

    I have a Spanish workmate and he moved to Australia this year, and things are going well for him too.

    My advice

    If there are Spaniards reading this, I would suggest you that before moving to Australia you look for a migration agent to evaluate your profile and tell you what options you have. It took long for me but I moved here with a job and rights/obligations like any Australian citizen. I am lucky because I work on a field where I can show what I do, if you do something tangible will always make things easier.

    A few months ago I met in Melbourne a couple of Spaniards and they were looking for a job with tourists visas and the reality is they were just burning money because they had no idea how difficult it was to obtain a work visa. If you want to do things well I strongly suggest you talking to a professional, it did work for me.


    I tell my story just to let people know that not all Spanish designers end as dishwashers and some people achieve their dreams.

  6. David Hand

    Hi Daniel,
    Thank you for your post.
    I think Spanish people, like everyone in the wprld want to succeed in setting up a better life for themselves and their children. The article about Spainish people coming to Australia is an example of that happening.

    Though the Euro is a good thing overall, the problem with it is that Germany and the Belelux countries plus maybe France must help the southern European countries with their economic difficulties but countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece would benefit from a much lower exchange rate than they can have under the euro.
    If they exit the Euro, they can start their economy functioning again.

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