In theory, the match-up is a cinch: In Spain and Greece, the unemployment rate is nearly 25 percent, and more than double that for people under 25. The job outlook has also darkened in Portugal, Ireland, and parts of Italy. Meanwhile, large swaths of Germany have companies that are scrambling to fill open engineering and technical positions.
In practice, though, it's more complex. These days, few Europeans grow up with a solid grasp of German, which is still necessary to handle many of the job responsibilities here. The work is also scattered across this Montana-sized country, often far from major cities, forcing the likes of Martinez to make a choice: Live in Berlin – where the rent is cheap, the immigrant network is tight, the entertainment options are endless, but the unemployment rate of 12.3 percent is Germany’s highest – or look for work in another area of Germany where adjustment may be much more difficult but the jobs are more plentiful.
On a cobbled crossing in Berlin's trendy Neukölln neighborhood, the Spanish pub Gastón offers a window into this tension.
Skateboarding into work on a Saturday afternoon, owner Bruno Fraysse greets his handful of staff and customers in a mix of Spanish, English, and German. His girlfriend, a Hamburg native, slumps at the bar, lazily swiping her iPad. In the cramped kitchen, young cook Gabriel Sergent, a trained photographer who left Andalusia this summer, is frying fish. A sign on the wall informs: "Every Sunday, Paella!!!"
“When I arrived, it was impossible to hear Spanish on the streets,” says Mr. Fraysse, a firecracker of a figure, whose arms, legs, and chest are covered in tattoos. He moved here from Salou, just outside of Barcelona, in 2006. “Now I can hear Catalan!”