According to statistics, one out of five work able Romanians lived in an EU state other than Romania last year.
According to statistics, one out of five work able Romanians lived in an EU state other than Romania last year. We are talking about 4 to 5 million people, most of whom now live in Italy and Spain, which are home to over two million Romanians. Next comes Germany, with around 600,000 Romanians living there, then the UK and the US, each with around half a million. The percentage of the working population living abroad in 2007, when Romania joined the European Union, was a mere 7.4%. We set out to find out why this situation has changed so much. Corina Neagu, an HR consultant, told us that the reason does not necessarily have to do with financial issues:
"Romanians don't leave only for financial reasons. Their motivations have changed. Previously they left overwhelmingly for money, but now it is because of economic, political, social and cultural instability, and the defective systems in Romania. I think we need to understand why people are leaving and to work out how we can change the nature of this situation. It's not a superficial issue, because more and more people are leaving, more and more young people, because they have no prospects for the future here. This is not for a lack of jobs, it's because they cannot have access to these jobs. The Romanian market is not ready for what looms ahead."
Corina Neagu says there are young people who are educated, who understand the international context and what is in demand nowadays, and who cannot find a place in their own country. This is visible at job fairs, where people go in with the proper qualifications, but are not called in for interviews because of preconceived ideas on the part of Romanian employers - that they are overqualified, that they will want too much money, and so on. Estimations indicate that the labour market in Romania is short a million people, with few prospects of things changing any time soon. Even though the economy and wages in Romania are on the rise and the job market is larger than the demand, half of young people say they want to leave the country in the next few years, according to a recent poll. More to the point, 47% of young Romanians say so, according to sociology professor Dumitru Sandu:
"Migration in itself is not an issue. The management of migration can create problems, and if things stay the same on the national level, it will get worse. That poses the question of what to do. First of all, we need clean and updated information, through polls conducted abroad. The last such polls were conducted by the Romanian state in Italy and Spain in 2007-2008. One basic feature of migration is that it changes fast, not only in intensity, geographical area and age, but also in terms of motivation."
The migration of young people abroad, according to sociologist Dumitru Sandu, leads to inconsistent development. The good thing is that remittances have helped Romania develop, with the Romanians working abroad having sent home over 55 billion euros since Romania joined the EU. At the same time, the negatives have increased, from the effects on the labour market to the drama of the children left behind and raised by relatives. One of the barriers against solving these problems is a popular myth, according to Dumitru Sandu:
"This myth is that it doesn't matter that people leave. We can bring in people from abroad, people to work in healthcare or constructions. Other countries have faced a lack of labour before, with immigration making up for emigration, entries from outside the EU will solve migration within the EU. This is a harmful myth. Romania is in crisis, it will get worse, and we won't find solutions overnight. It's clear that Romania will have to import labour. At the same time, it will quickly face the fact that certain sectors need more expensive labour, and that it will be more expensive to import qualified labour than to retain people in the country, or bring back the ones that have already left."
Dumitru Sandu believes that the process of migration abroad needs to be optimised, in order to benefit the country of origin, the destination country, families, as well as companies, with the understanding that there are no miracle cures.