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Spain: 15% rise in demand to learn German

Demand to learn German in Spain has surpassed that of French for the first time, following a 15% spike in interest in the language last year. Driving the trend is a desire among learners to find work in Germany and escape high levels of unemployment at home, with fluency their only barrier.

The Goethe Institute saw a 35% increase in demand for German courses in Spain

“Young people are especially interested in our courses not because they want to read Goethe and Schiller in the original version, but because they want to grow professionally,” said Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, president of the Goethe Institute, the official organisation promoting German culture worldwide.

“The main factor in deciding to go to Germany or not is how to learn the language”

With unemployment hovering around 25% (the highest in the Europe Union), Spanish nationals have flocked to language learning more generally, with total enrolments in 2011 growing by 20% to 150,000 (and expected to hit 180,00 by end of 2012).

English continues to see most demand, however German language enrolments in Spain grew 15% to second place, pushing French into third. In standout example the Goethe Institute saw demand for German courses climb 35%.

Behind the trend is an emergent skills gap in the German workforce, which German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sought to fill with workers from countries worst hit by the Eurozone crisis since early last year. However, according to the German International Placement Services (a government body managing the employment rights of foreigners) despite having the skills, many lack fluency in German – a prerequisite for working in the country.

Susanne Eikemeier, spokeswoman for the German federal employment agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit ), told The PIE News: “The main factor in deciding to go to Germany or not is how to learn the language. It is the biggest obstacle to get to Germany.”

In a further attempt to attract skilled workers, the German government will allocate €40 million to a professional mobility programme aimed at young Europeans starting in 2013. The programme offers a subsidy for German language courses in home countries in order to prepare individuals to go to Germany for vocational training or work.

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