Jobless Spanish nurses jump at Dutch opportunities

Wed Jun 26, 2013 6:58am EDT
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By Marcelo del Pozo and Sara Webb

SEVILLE, Spain/THE HAGUE, The Netherlands (Reuters) - Nurse recruiting firm Roca-BHR drew more than 800 applicants in Spain last year when it offered guaranteed jobs in the Netherlands caring for the elderly to those who were willing to take an intensive course in Dutch.

Of the 20 young nurses accepted to the program - financed by Dutch companies that need nurses - 11 completed the seven months of training and tests in the southern city of Seville and flew to The Hague, where they start work in July.

With full nursing degrees, they are all over-qualified for their nursing aide positions. But given that more than 18,000 nurses are out of work in Spain, the compromise is worth it.

Hiring is frozen in Spain's national health system and almost at a standstill in private hospitals and clinics thanks to drastic spending cuts to trim the public deficit. Some 1,000 trained nurses have never found work in their field, according to Spanish nursing union Satse.

"It's very, very difficult to find a job in Spain," said Maria Angeles Luque, 25, one of the group of 10 women and one man who will be working in the Netherlands for 1,784 euros ($2,300) a month.

Maria Jose Marin, who joined the training group with her twin sister Maria Teresa, said that when they began nursing school several years ago, most graduates found jobs the summer after they graduated.

"But the situation got worse and worse. I never imagined things would end up like this," the 23-year-old told Reuters. The two have been looking for work since they graduated in 2011.

A Reuters photographer accompanied the twins for a week as they traded the room they shared in their parents' home for a dorm in a temporary residence in The Hague. From a family of eight siblings in the town of Paradas, 50 km (30 miles) outside Seville, it was their first visit to the Netherlands.   Continued...

Photographs of Spanish nurses Maria Jose Marin (R) and her twin sister Maria Teresa (C), taken at their graduation, and as children at the age of two (L), hang on the wall of the living room in their home in Paradas, southern Spain June 1, 2013. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo