Weeks after the government and job centres came under heavy criticism for encouraging the country’s growing number of unemployed to leave and find jobs abroad, Portugal’s Prime Minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, has now suggested that unemployed teachers should emigrate to Portuguese-speaking countries and highlighted the need for teachers in Brazil.
Asked during an interview with national daily newspaper Correio da Manhã whether he would advise “the surplus teachers” that Portugal has to “step out of their comfort zones” and “look for jobs elsewhere”, the PM answered positively, suggesting “in Angola, and not just Angola.”
“There is also a great void to be filled in terms of primary and secondary teaching in Brazil”, he commented.
The PM made the comments while speaking about Angola’s current capacity to absorb workers from Portugal, in all sectors “that are related to information technologies and knowledge, and also in areas closely related to health, education, the environment and communications.”
In the interview, published earlier this week, Passos Coelho said: “We know that there are many teachers in Portugal who, at this moment, do not have a job. And the private system does not have enough vacancies to go around.
“Our demographics are currently dwindling, as everyone knows, and therefore in the next few years there will be many [teachers] in Portugal who will do one of two things; either manage to qualify in a particular area but be open to other areas, or stay true to teaching and look at the Portuguese-speaking market as a whole and maybe find an alternative there”, he explained.
Portugal is one of the European countries with the poorest levels of schooling, according to the UN’s Human Development Report 2011, published last month.
While in Portugal the average amount of time spent in the schooling system among under-25s is of 7.7 years, in Greece and Italy it is of 10.1 years, in Spain 10.4 years, in Germany 12.2 years, and in the USA it is of 12.4 years.
Last month, the Institute of Employment and Professional Training (IEFP) was reported to have been sending out letters to young qualified workers containing information about “job offers in other European states.”
Jobseekers were then summoned to an IEFP office, where they are presented with the challenge of finding work outside the country’s borders.
“The situation is very tough in Portugal, so it is better to look for work in another European country”, is the verbal message being received by jobseekers in some centres in Portugal.
At these particular meetings, no concrete job offers are presented, only strong encouragement to get on the next train, plane or bus out of Portugal in search of greener pastures.
The IEFP’s attitude is mirrored in the Government’s position on Portugal’s growing list of unemployed.
The State Secretary for Youth and Sport recently advised school and university graduates to emigrate, sparking protest from opposition parties.
Alexandre Miguel Mestre explained Portuguese youths should “get out of their comfort zone” and use the EU’s open border policies to their advantage.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Miguel Relvas this week substantiated this position at a parliamentary commission.
“It is extremely positive when a person can find opportunities outside the country with the view of returning in the foreseeable future having gained new cultural experiences”, explained the senior Minister.