The increasing labour mobility of Europeans is widely recognised as a very positive development – in that it contributes to economic well-being and helps improve mutual understanding. Some jobseekers face the challenge of working abroad with limited qualifications and poor preparation and this can open the door for disreputable ‘advisers’. Some so-called ‘recruitment agencies’ make false promises to innocent jobseekers, and then take their hard earned money in exchange for rather questionable ‘services’.
The fascinating story of Gunars Peipins, a young worker from Latvia, began rather sadly. Wishing to change his life, he decided to look for a job in the United Kingdom. As he did not know much about the British employment market, he paid almost €1,000 for the assistance of a ‘professional’ Latvian recruitment agency. Unfortunately, this overly priced ‘advice service’ soon turned out to be a disappointment.
Gunars started his new life in London, but instead of the decent job he was assured, he got an illegal, poorly paid position in the construction industry. To top off his desperate situation, he was accommodated in a simple garage which he had to share with four other persons. Eventually his misery came to a rough end after only a month when he lost the job and found himself on the street with no money in his pocket. Helped by some random generous people, he returned to Latvia.
One might think that after such a terrible first experience, Gunars would have reconsidered the idea of working in another country – but on the contrary! The young man was obviously unlucky with his work conditions, but he had enjoyed living in the UK and was convinced that he would find his future fortune there. At this point he contacted EURES.
Gunars shared his story with Zanna Ribakova, the EURES Adviser in the State Employment Agency in Riga, and expressed his interest in giving it a second chance. Zanna took a close look at his qualifications and provided him with the necessary information on living and working in the United Kingdom. Soon thereafter, a position opened up in a fish factory in Scotland and Gunars left Latvia for a second time in September 2006 to start his new job.
Zanna saw him again this January when he visited her EURES office to share a rather unexpected but certainly more gratifying story. Work in the fish factory was quite peculiar and certainly tough, but he had appreciated being employed legally and having a decent, regular income.
However, his life was once again about to change. One day, after another hard day of work in the fish factory, he went out with some friends to a disco club. Gunars wasn’t a professional dancer, but his natural talent and feeling for rhythm must have impressed the manager of the club, who offered him that very same evening a job as a club animator. The young Latvian was more than surprised by the proposition, but quickly accepted this new challenge.
Gunars has always loved dancing, and now that he has begun doing so professionally, a dream has come true. “I am very thankful to EURES that they have been so supportive and kind to me,” Gunars told EURES. “They helped me put the past behind and now I am enjoying my new life.”