The Macedonians even at the age of 50 look for a job abroad
Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are on the list of promised destinations for young people seeking work abroad and this adventure also includes 19-year-olds. The number of Macedonian citizens who choose to go abroad to make money even much later is not small, hoping that they will meet the criteria of foreign employers who look for serious professional qualifications and language proficiency above all
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Macedonian citizens in search of better living are prepared to seek the promised land even at the age of 50, in years when it may be too early for a man to abandon the challenge, but too late to start a new life outside of their own country. However, it is the new trend we learn about from the agencies that mediate in finding work abroad – the age limit of Macedonian people has moved and ranges from 19 to 55 years of age and up. Cruisers are still the most attractive, cruise ships, as well as the states of the Arabian Peninsula. Europe encourages its citizens to work around the old continent, and at the same time part of the European countries put a moratorium on hiring foreign workers from non-European countries.
According to agencies that mediate in finding work overseas, the profile of job seekers is colorful because there is no strict division by expertise or age.
“There is an increasing number of young people aged 19 to 27, but more often appear people over 40”, explains Zoran Kocoski, head of “Kouzon Corporation” in Skopje, which has offices in 14 countries in the region and beyond.
According to him, these people, pressed by the need for more funds for bigger investments in life, are determined to seek work through which they could save.
More common are cases when even retired citizens from Macedonia choose to go to work abroad. Citizens who are fit for work are often turned down by foreign embassies and fail to get any tourist or business visa.
“When my son was not allowed to travel to America I decided to submit documents to the embassy”, explains 60-year-old retiree from a village in Strumica, who traveled to the United States with his wife for baptism and stayed to work illegally.
For heavy physical work – demolition, he now earns 100 dollars a day, and his wife is paid 9 dollars per hour as cleaning lady in private apartments.
“However, companies that engage know that these people work illegally with no proper papers and are therefore paid minimum. For example, when women are transported from one location to another for cleaning, they are not paid for transport time”, explains Marina V., who has been living in the United States for ten years. She and her family migrated there after winning the American green card lottery.
Australia, New Zealand and Canada are the only countries that offer regular government programs for immigration based on employment or vocational qualifications.
“However, even these countries have made the conditions for obtaining the so-called immigrant visa stricter. The procedure for obtaining these visas takes 1-2 years during which candidates should submit multiple certificates for eligibility, i.e. Bachelor of Education, work experience and passed international tests of English language”, Kocoski explains.
Criteria grow – interest in employment declines
Canada offers immigrant visas for about 25 professions lacking workers, such as: professions of natural and technical sciences, certain trades, such as electrician, welder, etc.
“The procedure lasts for years and costs at least 1,000 Euros. Applicants are also appreciated by whether received a job offer, faculty degree is mandatory, and lots of points are gained for family. Passed tests for English and French IELTS and TFC are required. Paradoxically, Canadian employers insist on Canadian education and work experience. This means that every Macedonian degree should be nostrificated, and then work as a beginner in the profession and it takes years to reach full salary. For Canada people apply at the federal level, but can also do it through provincial programs, however, they all require to show that you received an invitation to work in Canada. Exception is the province of Quebec, but there it is insisted on fluency in French”, explains Saso J., who intends to immigrate to Canada.
This year Canada has introduced a new system of immigration where first it offers candidates to the companies, so if they show interest, only then starts the procedure for immigrant visa, which allegedly in this case would last much shorter.
“Canada is more attractive for Macedonians because unlike the United States it is a welfare state and there is a lot of work, negative is that wages are lower compared to other Western countries, and very cold winters are a problem”, says our interlocutor Saso J.
Agencies’ statistics shows that compared to all jobseekers, couples who have decided to sail overseas are only 5 percent of the total.
Serious professional qualifications and language proficiency are the criteria that foreign employers increasingly look for at applicants.
For these reasons the interest in employment overseas is generally declining, employers require knowledge of a foreign language in the country where people are employed, serious job qualifications and a huge desire for advancement in the profession applied for.
“My personal assessment is that there are more job offers than the job seekers’ real quality. I will sustain this with my personal conclusion related to the expectations of the Macedonian work force that primarily requires high paying job offers, without having serious qualifications for the job required”, says Kocoski.
He explains that jobseekers who would ask: “Do you have a job according to my qualifications” canrarely be met. The interest, says Kocoski, is above all aimed at the highest paid job offers and those positions that do not require a lot of engagement.
“And there are no such job offers. It may sound surprising, but there are a small percentage of job seekers ready to start working for a salary of 1,000 dollars but looking to be offered jobs of over 2,000-3,000 dollars”, explains the head of Kouzon, who has 18 years of experience in this field.
Bitter experiences and promised destinations
According to the analysis of Kouzon based on their applicants, male population occupies 70 or 80 percent of job seekers abroad. There are less women. The age limit is 18-30 (31).
Young Aleksandar P., who has been in Dubai for two years and has found a job through Kouzon agency in Skopje, says that many Macedonians there come via friends who find jobs in their companies. Or they come for one month with a tourist visa and then look for a job.
“I am currently employed at the Sheraton, a five star hotel that belongs to the Starwood Corporation under which there are nine other brands of hotels. I work as a bartender in the cocktail bar on the beach. I have been working in Sheraton for seven months, last year I worked in a luxurious private club where businessmen pay membership, Capital Club Dubai. Dubai is a beautiful city and there is much to see and learn. It is number one in the world of hotels. So, for anyone who wants to deal with this, Dubai is a good start to his career”, advises Aleksandar.
However, he says that he does not see Dubai as his future place to live. “I am ready for a new adventure and a new challenge. Before I came to Dubai for five months I had been working with my uncle in Canada and from there I am pleased and I am very likely to go there again next year, but I do not see Macedonia as an option to live and work”, explains this 25-year-old man.
Student Sanja S. left for temporary work in the United States in June this year.
“I paid the agency 2,000 Euros to come here; it is money for the program and the ticket. Accommodation is very bad in an old hotel, there are only two toilets on one floor. In the rooms there are bugs called bad bugs, and it is very difficult to eradicate them. We work as maids and we are paid 8 dollars per hour. I work a second job so I can earn enough to travel and to return the money back. I work for 13 hours a day. At work we are not treated well”, explains for Inbox 7 this student of the Law Faculty in Skopje, who is to return to Skopje in one month and continue her studies.
Agencies mediating finding work abroad for Inbox 7 say that the most popular job offer are employments on big cruisers – large cruise ships. These job offers are attractive because everything is provided from the start, which means accommodation, food, guaranteed salary, and most of all the opportunity to progress in the profession.
Other options are the states of the Arabian Peninsula, that is Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. These jobs are attractive as the employment requires only knowledge of the English language that a higher proportion of job seekers actually understand or speak compared to any other European language.
Job offers are basically a seasonal work that is offered mostly in summer i.e. from April to November. The work on ship is set for a period of 6-9 months, and work in the countries of the Middle East for a period of two years. The shortest working contract is approximately three months and is associated with work in tourist destinations in the surrounding countries, agencies explain.
Incentive for EU citizens – moratorium on recruitment for others
Most wanted are professions related to IT sector, trade, construction and catering.
“Unfortunately there are no offers made by certain countries, but it is run entirely on individual job offers that come from companies. Only Germany has some forms of centralized employment of jobs lacking workers”, said Kocovski of “Kouzon “.
He explains that all other countries offer only individual work visas that are currently scarce, and most of the European countries put a moratorium on the recruitment of foreign labor from non-European countries that we are part of, too. Slovenia, Italy, Croatia have a moratorium.
Unlike these three countries, from 1 January this year the states of the European Union opened their doors to citizens with citizenship from Bulgaria and Romania. Although the number of Macedonian citizens who have Bulgarian passports is big, the agencies estimate that there is no mass departure in the EU.
The European Commission program – EURES provides EU citizens with information and advice on employment in EU countries, whose users are workers and employers, as well as to every citizen on the basis of the principle of free movement of persons. The manner of operation and purpose of the program is described in the video below.
While the EU encourages its citizens to seek work outside of their home country, on the map of EURES there is an empty place where Macedonia is because it is not a member of the European family. The principle of free movement of workers within the EU means you can get a job in any country of the European Union as well as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
However, only two percent of European citizens live and work in another member country other than their country of origin. Benefits to working abroad are: getting new professional and personal skills, developing self-confidence and communication skills, then getting new ideas and different cultural experience, learning a foreign language. You can choose a permanent, temporary or seasonal job.
Through the portal EURES there is an access to relevant information about vacancies in 31 European countries.
Macedonia – leader in the number of immigrants
In the country there is no official figure of how many seasonal workers from Macedonia annually leave to work abroad, mostly because many of them work illegally. Only figures from agencies that mediate employment are recorded, showing that more than 5,000 Macedonian citizens annually go to work abroad temporarily. However, the figure is much higher and unofficial estimates say it is around 10,000 people.
According to the World Bank statistics, 447,000 people emigrated from the country as of 2010, so Macedonia is ranked in the group with the most immigrants. The country is ranked 23rd in the group of 25 countries with most immigrants. With 21.9 percent immigrants of the total population, the country is in the company of West Bank and Gaza, Granada, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe.
The loss of certain types of occupations in the form of brain drain is particularly expressed in Macedonia. According to the latest report of the World Bank, from the country there is a high level of brain drain and virtually anyone who has a chance to go abroad does so.
Editor: Stojanka Mitreska