Finding jobs for the homeless and unemployed in Spain

by Deborah Cater
Enterprises help homeless and unemployed find work

The covid pandemic has had devastating consequences for many. Thousands are people in their 40s and 50s, who worked for decades as waiters, tradespeople or craftworkers, have ended up unemployed or homeless. Some enterprises are helping them get back on their feet.

Un Mismo Equipo (One Team), is an Instagram account and website that allows unemployed and often homeless people to advertise their skills to potential employers.

The initiative began in June when a friend of the film-maker Gonzalo Perales sent him a photo of a man on a street in central Madrid. The man was an electrician by trade and was advertising himself for work on the street.

The positive power of social media

Perales posted the picture on his Instagram account. Within an hour, the man had been offered a job. The following day, Perales met a man on the streets of Madrid who was looking for work as a waiter. He uploaded his story and, within 48 hours, 15 job interviews had rolled in.

It came to Perales’s attention that many of the unemployed were in their 40s and 50s; and had previously worked as craftspeople, waiters and tradespeople. As the pandemic took work from them, they found themselves isolated from the employment market. The primary issue was they did not know how to look for jobs online.

“Today, you need a computer and computer skills to get a job because that’s where 95% of jobs are advertised,” says Perales. “In the beginning, I used to go out on to the streets of Madrid on my scooter and in my spare time looking for people who’d not been on the streets for too long. I talked to them and asked if they were looking for work. I interviewed them and then tried to write it up nicely to put online,” he told The Guardian.

Perales has now recruited two colleagues to help develop the project. He is spending 10 hours a day fielding enquiries as word of Un Mismo Equipo spreads.

“Human LinkedIn”

The idea is simple. People make contact via Instagram or the website and are sent a questionnaire to fill in. Then, Perales chats to them. He writes up their profiles and them so for potential employers to take a look.

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“It’s like a more human kind of LinkedIn,” he says. “We tell people’s stories in a nice way so that others can empathise with them. A lot of the people we work with are in their 50s and have been working in their trades for 30 years, so they have a lot of experience. That can really help companies.”

The Instagram page now has more than 30,000 followers and dozens are getting in touch every day to look for work. Free wifi in cafes and other public places is a veritable boon for those looking for work.

Homeless Entrepreneur

Another enterprise helping the homeless find work is Homeless Entrepreneur. Their mission is to reduce poverty through work and active citizenship.

On the website, the Homeless Entrepreneurs can tell their story and work to become active citizens again. They are willing and able to give their best but do not currently have the resources, tools and support to improve their situation.

The organisation also provides them with a coordinator and nine managers who cover professional development, education, health, housing, finance, legal, communication, sales and general assistance.

Spain’s unemployment still high

Although Spain’s economy is recovering from the pandemic, and the number of people out of work is decreasing, unemployment remains at 14.3%. This compares to the EU average is 6.9%.

The Spanish government is currently negotiating with regard to extension of the furlough scheme – ERTE. If the scheme is not extended, and with the high   travel season coming to an end, the chances are the unemployment figures may yet rise again.

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