The Spanish economy has been taking a beating since the Euro crisis began. Unemployment rates in Spain are at record levels, with young people hit particularly hard. Young, out-of-work Spaniards are increasingly leaving home in search of greener pastures elsewhere. Other EU countries like Germany, France or Great Britain, as well as the United States, offer young Spaniards far rosier prospects.The economic downturn isn’t the only thing frustrating young and educated Spaniards, though. Spanish astrophysicist Amaya Moro-Martin, who is leaving the Spanish National Research Council for a job with NASA, explained her departure in an open letter to embattled Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The letter details her grievances with the hidebound, outsized and unresponsive Spanish bureaucracy, devoting particular ire to the reams of paperwork and endless certificates the country’s official institutions require. Ms. Moro-Martin’s letter struck a chord in Spain and has been translated and reprinted in The Guardian:
I am also sending you the 700 pages of certificates and documents requested to certify the veracity of my curriculum vitae, which, due to the hiring freeze, I will no longer need. Collecting all this documentation was a tremendously satisfying research project. You should know that, with the many jobs that I have applied for outside Spain, the requested documentation is slightly briefer, approximately 10 pages: a research plan and a short curriculum vitae that does not need to be backed up with certificates….You should know that I have never been able to apply for a faculty job in a Spanish university because I do not have the official accreditation from the National Agency for Quality Assessment and Accreditation (ANECA), an accreditation that can only be obtained if one has a previous link with a Spanish university. Strangely, neither Princeton University nor the University of California at Berkeley complained about the lack of such an accreditation when I was interviewed, years ago, for faculty positions at those institutions.
Even in a country with a booming economy, bureaucratic obstacle courses like this can put a serious drag on the market and hinder growth. In a crisis-hit country like Spain, though, this sort of inefficiency can be deadly. Bleak economic prospects are already driving talented young Spaniards to seek their fortunes abroad. It’s imperative that the country do all it can to open up opportunities for those who remain. Removing the burdens that Ms. Moro-Martin describes would be an excellent place to start.[Spanish flag image courtesy of Shutterstock]