The forced mobility of unemployed Portuguese young peoplePDF | Print |
Carlos Ribeiro   | 15.03.2013 National Affairs Articles [en]

The Brasserie Room in Sutton is ready to welcome its first customers. The tables have been set. The red sofas with their throw pillows signal good taste and organization. The menus are waiting to guide the first customers in giving their orders. On the esplanade outside, a few plants and discrete lighting invite customers to enter.
Jessica arrived two hours ago. This top-quality welcome setting is the result of her work. Two months ago she was living in Lisbon, unemployed and in despair.
“This isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life, but I’m happy to be working and to be able to count on a pay check at the end of the month,” the 18-year-old Portuguese woman with African forebears confesses. In secondary school she dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. Now she’s waiting tables in London.
“In spite of everything, young people in the UK are spoiled. There are opportunities, and when one is unemployed and persistent in the search for professional work, one generally ends up finding it. Of course it’s not the dream job one has in mind, but it’s a basis for survival and for thinking about future alternatives,” Jessica says. She points out that she decided to head for the English capital when she saw no prospects for employment in Portugal.
The low cost of the airplane ticket was an added financial inducement, and loans from family members supplemented the budget for what appeared to be an overly risky adventure. In the plane that was taking her into the unknown, she started to worry about having to make a speedy return home, and the hours of her trip were filled with anguish.
But as soon as she arrived, she realized that much of what was going to happen would depend on how much initiative and willpower she showed.
She registered in an English-language course in a school near the house where she was temporarily living, and decided to work at learning English as if it were a safety buoy. She did not have to pay any registration fee, and was admitted immediately without any bureaucracy.
She started to wander about London on foot, looking in the show windows of the shops, cafés, and restaurants for help-wanted signs. When she saw one, she sent or personally delivered her CV.
That’s how she came to be hired by the French brassiere. Her English might not yet be at the desired level, but she had to take the risk. After the interview, she felt certain that she could not possibly be hired. But she was wrong. On the following Monday she started working.
Now she is continuing to work on her English, which she views as an indispensable tool in order to obtain work and continue to follow up on other personal projects, one of which is to enter university. She has already learned that she may be able to obtain a loan that she will have to repay later when she completes her university education. Her situation will be subjected to special analysis by the education authorities, and she will have to guarantee that she has enough income to make the bursary repayments when they come due.
“Here I’ve found a chance to grow as a person and to hope for a better tomorrow,” she said. She feels that she has succeeded in the chances she has taken because she is very obviously open to learning and is dissatisfied with her knowledge in view of the challenges that she encountered and is encountering in giving shape to her plans for her life.