We see the European continent as a place where people travel, do business, invest, learn from each other, buy, sell, collaborate and team up.
Freedom of movement for workers is one of the four fundamental freedoms of the European Union. It is one of the core EU values that the EPP Group defends. And without this freedom Christina Sandoval Vilarrasa couldn’t have made her dream come true.
Santa’s talented little helper
Christina loves travelling. She loves it so much that, in Barcelona, where she is from, she studied for the travel industry and worked in a travel agency. From there her voyage took her through Argentina and New Zealand to the Finnish Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi ten years ago.
“The magic of Lapland and Sami culture made me stay,” says Christina. She continued her studies in Rovaniemi at the University of Lapland.
”When I arrived in the Arctic Circle, I first came to see Santa Claus. He asked what would I wish for. ‘I want a job,’ I answered. I had left my CV at Santa’s Post Office and from there a christmas elf, Santa’s little helper, came to ask me to work for Santa.”
But it took seven months before her new job was secured.
“I first came to see Santa Claus. He asked what would I wish for. ‘I want a job,’ I answered ” – Christina Sandoval Vilarrasa
During that period Christina helped in the Arctic Museum and interpreted for Spanish visitors. And not only into Spanish and Catalan; Christina speaks English, German and Finnish and finds her way in Italian and French as well. Now she’s learning Japanese.
‘We must dare to experiment’
To young, motivated and talented job-seekers like Christina, being able to move freely within the EU is worth more than whatever their first salary may be. It is a chance to practice those languages learned at school or at university, or to support Europe’s tourist industry, as in Christina’s case. It is also a way of encouraging the innovators of the future by making it easy for them to experience new things and generate new ideas.
”Young people must not give up. We must dare to experiment. Although getting a permanent job seems to take time, a reward comes eventually,” encourages Christina.
Supporting young job-seekers
Christina calls home to Catalonia every day. Her family supports her and she could not imagine it any other way.
“Finnish youth leave their homes at an early age and don’t get enough support from their families. But public support for young job seekers is well organised. I would also like to help all the foreign job seekers in Finland myself.”
Finland has been a frontrunner in establishing a Youth Guarantee scheme that ensures jobs, traineeships or continued education for young people. A similar model with EU funding is about to spread to the other Member States.
The EPP Group welcomed a proposal by the Commission for a ‘Youth Guarantee’ in January 2013.
“This tool could prove a major step in the fight against the alarming levels of youth unemployment in the European Union,” said Csaba Őry MEP, EPP Group Spokesperson on Employment and Social Affairs in the European Parliament.
Christina herself had help at the beginning of her career from Finnish youth support schemes.
Young people must not give up. We must dare to experiment.
After several temporary jobs, Christina has finally got her permanent job – working as a customer service elf.
The Post Office of Santa Clause was rewarded this year for being an excellent employer for youth by the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations for employing young immigrants.
People are our economy. The people of Europe are the largest economy in the world. Everybody in Europe benefits from the world’s largest market – by way of jobs linked to exports, e-commerce, foreign visitors, investment and competitive pricing.
We want our family firms, our small businesses, our innovators, inventors, researchers, scientists and self-employed to be beacons for innovation and excellence across Europe and beyond.
Interview by Riitta Kemppainen-Koivisto