Job market

For many people, a new year means a new job – although this year for many, a new year means no job at all. The other night, Portuguese TV showed images of a factory closing, even though the newly jobless employees told the reporters they were working at full capacity with orders flowing in. We probably all know someone who has had to make someone redundant recently, or who has lost their job.

I was interested to read in the employment section of the Expresso newspaper recently the results of a survey carried out by Hay Group, an international recruitment company. Top executives in Portugal are actually paid more than their counterparts in other EU countries, including England. This is apparently due to the shortage of skills at that top level, meaning top executives can name their price. According to Hay, an executive earns on average 146,000 euros in France, 150,719 euros in Britain and 160,000 in Portugal. In Ireland, on the other hand, a country brimming with talent, the same executive would only earn 92,534 euros. Irish managers might like to consider moving to Greece, where their average annual income would be 176,935 euros, or Italy, where they would earn 177,818 or, best of all, Spain, where this same executive would earn, on average, 181,180 euros per year. The more you think about those figures, the more bizarre they become, don’t they? I shall leave you to ponder that, and move on…

So there I was, browsing the employment section of Expresso. Not that I was looking for a job, you understand, but you can tell a lot from reading the recruitment pages – what sort of companies are advertising, what sort of jobs are available – and, something that always surprises me, how many advertisements are in English. If you are a process specialist or technician in power plant and utilities and fancy working in Sines – this is your lucky day! If you are a top sales and marketing professional and want to work with a leading international grower of watercress and small leaf salads, here’s your chance – and you would be based in beautiful middle of nowhere, Odemira. And if you want to work in Lisbon, there are FTC Management Opportunities with an excellent remuneration package. What’s FTC? If you don’t know, the job is not for you, is it? It’s something to do with financial institutions and corporate trusts.This is part of the continued development of the Portuguese securi-tisation market. Excuse me, what the heck is securitisation? Incidentally, you need to be fluent in English, Portuguese and financial jargon for that position! There was an interesting job for a project engineer to work for an English company now doing lots of business with the Portuguese Rail industry. You would be working on site in Portugal and responsible for the ‘timely delivery of projects to our customers’ – which is more than Portuguese Rail is delivering to its customers, from what I hear!

But the one that caught my eye (it would, wouldn’t it) was for a PR & Media Professional to go and work in Castelo Branco, a nice part of the country. An international farming organisation wants a university graduate, with strong computer skills, an excellent communicator, fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Bearing in mind what I had read in the editorial pages about the salary levels of executives, I read on with interest. The salary for this tri-lingual genius is to be around 1,000 euros per month. Forgive me, international farming organisation whoever you are for picking on you, but you do provide a wonderful example of the nonsense of salaries here. On the front page we are told that executives can command their own salary, and earn far more than their counterparts in Britain – and here is a company offering what I consider to be a very low salary indeed for someone who needs considerable skills and experience. I know that there are many secretaries in the Algarve who are totally bi-lingual, magical on the computer, great with clients – and earning far less than that. How they survive I don’t know, particularly when property is so expensive. I think I should leave that subject for now – although I have a feeling it will crop up again in the not-too-distant future!

Do you DIY? Millions of people do, and it is catching on fast here in Portugal. So much so that IKEA is coming to Alfragide, just outside Lisbon – the store opens at the end of March. It will be IKEA’s third largest store in Europe, and will provide 420 new jobs. IKEA already buys from Portugal – pottery as well as metal, wooden and textile goods, to a value of some 70 million euros a year, which is about one per cent of Portugal’s total exports. That is quite frightening, isn’t it? One per cent of the country’s total exports goes to one private company! The catalogue, their main sales tool, is printed in 23 languages for distribution in 31 countries – they print around 131 million copies twice a year. That’s one heck of a print run! It’s an interesting name, IKEA, isn’t it? Do you know where it comes from? It’s the name of the founder, Ingvar Kamprad, the farm where he was born – Elmtaryd – and the nearest city to there, Agunnaryd. That’s one for your next pub quiz!

Talking of DIY, these great stores are getting closer to the Algarve. Those of you who know Spain may well know LeRoy Merlin. It’s a French chain that is now firmly established throughout Spain, and DIY enthusiasts swear by them. They already have a large store in Seville, but I am now told that they have opened in Lepe – you remember Lepe, the strawberry tart capital of the Costa Azul! Now why would a large international chain want to open in Lepe if not to target the Algarve market? I for one will be going to explore – watch this space!

And finally, talking of names, as I was with IKEA – here is my nomination for the most wrong name of the year – a computer support company, presumably Portuguese, called – MegaFlop Informatica.

Have a great week – and keep the price checks rolling in! I already have a volunteer to analyse the data, and one lady sent me her first report already tabulated in Excel! I’m impressed – keep the information coming!