This article was translated by John R. Bopp
Once again, the BBC has dedicated time and positive remarks to Bizkaia Talent, the Biscay-based organization working to help those who’ve gone abroad for work to come back home. It’s important to state that, since its beginnings, its work has not been focused only on Biscay-based workers or companies: they have a clear “vision of the country”.
On this occasion, it was BBC World, the radio broadcaster with the largest audience in the world. Specfically, it was on the prestigious “The Newsroom” program, in a report by journalist Matt Pickles.
We say “once again” because among the numerous international references we’ve collected about Bizkaia Talent, we can see that the BBC has paid it special attention, even interviewing the managing director on BBC World.
The reason why is clear: Great Britain is going through quite a lot during the Brexit process, and the media are not oblivious to the debate; that is quite obvious. It’s a debate stemming from two similarly-sized groups who support opposing sides on the presence, or lack thereof, of the United Kingdom inside European institutions.
There’s another matter that is taking a prominent position in the environment of doubts and insecurities that has also caught the eye of Bizkaia Talent. We’re referring to the doubts about the future of EU citizens in the United Kingdom, both regarding those who are already working there, as well as how the flow of professionals who so far have been feeding the economic and technical centers of the country once the UK leaves.
British society is beginning to become aware that one of the consequences of their referendum decision to leave the European Union is that many of these professionals are thinking about leaving the country. And that’s why the BBC, and other media, have focused on Bizkaia Talent.
It’s a job that can be classified as a “success”, as has been pointed out on many occasions. And the reasons for the interest are quite clearly defined in the report itself.
BBC – 18/4/2019 – Great Britain
Starting at timestamp 17:50. Approx. 3 minutes long.
Many people in the UK are taking, or at least trying to, take a break from thinking about Brexit, now that the EU has extended its departure until October. But that hasn’t stopped other countries from making the most of the uncertainty. Take the Basque region of Spain, where people are working hard to convince some of their most highly-skilled emigrés in the UK to return home. Matt Pickles went along to meet some of them.
“I’m Leire. I’m talking from my house in the Basque Country, where I came about one year ago, after spending several amazing years in the UK.”
Leire Balzategi, a civil engineer who lives near Bilbao in the Basque Country, had not planned to leave London. She had enjoyed working on infrastructure projects for Transport for London and an engineering consultancy. But then came the Brexit vote.
“When the referendum happened, something changed in my life, and I started to think about the possibility of coming back home, and I can say that perhaps Brexit and its uncertainties were the main reason.”
Leire is not alone. Amid uncertainty around Brexit, the Basque Country has convinced hundreds of Basques living in the UK to move back to the autonomous region of Spain. It set up Bizkaia Talent, a busy and slick recruitment agency funded by the Biscay government. When it brought Basque companies to London for a recruiting event last October, 150 people turned up. A quarter of those have since left or are negotiating their departures.
Iván Jiménez is the Managing Director of Bizkaia Talent.
“For us, the change was really quickly (sic) and a big opportunity to re-attract those professionals that our companies are looking for. We organize many personal encounters with them, so after Brexit, those personal meetings were really successful, especially those organized with Basque organizations who were going to London with us.”
The Basque exodus from the UK shows no signs of slowing. Earlier this month, Iván set up a career development center for Basques abroad. Over 700 UK residents have already signed up, more than from any other EU country. Leire Balzategi thinks UK infrastructure firms will suffer if the trend continues.
“I can say that if all my colleagues that are from Europe left the engineering consultancy where I worked, there would surely be a shortage of experience and of qualified people in the company. So that’s something that perhaps people from the UK haven’t realized.”
Basque firms still cannot usually match the salaries available in London, but their recruiters use another tactic to persuade skilled workers to return. They remind them of the region’s weather and, most importantly of all, its food.
That was Matt Pickles.