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With a crisis, Argentine professionals look for opportunities outside the country

After the reverse of President Mauricio Macri in recent primaries, the Argentines began to look for work outside the country in a massive way

Architecture of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Architecture of Buenos Aires, Argentina. / Reference image / Pixabay

Reuters | Aislinn Laing, Marina Lammertyn, Marcelo Rochabrun y Nelson Bocanegra

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Leer en español: Con una crisis en casa, profesionales argentinos buscan oportunidades fuera del país

Argentine executives and professionals, shocked by the crisis that worsened after President Mauricio Macri's setback in the recent primaries, began to look for work outside the country massively, recruiters and visa advisers told Reuters.

Executive search specialists say that a flood of calls, emails and curriculum vitae arrive at their offices in Chile, Brazil, and Colombia after Macri lost ground to a center-left Peronist in the partisan primary for general elections.

Alberto Fernández is now the clear favorite for the October 27 elections and has said he will seek to renegotiate a loan of 57,000 million from the International Monetary Fund, agreed by Macri in 2018 amid growing fears of a default.

In Chile, recruitment firm Randstad said that the search among Argentines increases as the economy weakens and its rate of job applications in Chile rose 246 percent between May-August compared to last year.

"I think people feel a bit of despair," said Nicholas Schmidt, head of the financial services division of Spencer Stuart in Chile, who received a flood of consultations after the elections.

Several candidates told recruiters that Macri, elected in 2015 with the commitment to "normalize" the third-largest economy in Latin America, had been his hope for a change after a cycle of weak peso and inflation.

"There was a sense of hope with him, many people returned (to Argentina) (...) People wanted to stay and felt that things would improve significantly," said Schmidt.

Macri is accused of not attracting enough foreign investment and of underestimating the inflationary effect caused by cuts in subsidies to public services that Argentines took for a long time.

Today, unemployment is 10 percent, inflation is 55 percent and poverty is between 27-35 percent.

Macri faces a candidate who has former President Cristina Fernández as a formula partner, in a possible return to "Kirchnerismo", when Argentina had control of currencies and other interventionist policies.

Last weekend, the phrase "the only way out is Ezeiza", a reference to the country's main international airport, began to be a local trend on Twitter.

"I want my children to have a good future, and today I am not seeing it in Argentina," said Guillermo Galia, 38, who works in textile marketing. When he was offered a job in Italy a few weeks ago, he said he took the opportunity.

Gaul hopes to return eventually but did not rule out staying in Italy if the economic situation does not improve.

About the Andes

In Brazil, Kevin Gibson, regional head of British talent firm Robert Walters, said Argentina's eventual loss of human capital would benefit other economies.

He explained that he sees an upward curve since 2017 in Argentine applicants for positions in Brazil, Mexico, and Chile, but the number had doubled the week of the elections.

"Argentines are extremely flexible in terms of salaries and have a very good reputation in the region," he said.

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Colombia, which according to the IMF would be the Latin American country whose economy grows most this year, also attracts interest.

Marco D'Andrea, commercial director of the Experis-ManpowerGroup talent scout group in Bogotá, said several of his Argentine candidates who worked before in Colombia had contacted them to say they wanted to leave again.

He added that the head of human resources of a multinational pharmaceutical company based in Argentina told him that they would discuss possible transfers for the personnel in question.

"It is not easy for everyone to change countries, the people who are going to do it quickly are people who have already had experience abroad," he said.

Chile, one of the most stable economies in Latin America, has absorbed successive waves of highly qualified Argentine migrants.

Among the newcomers is Agustina Bertuzzi, a 29-year-old public relations graduate who moved to Santiago two months ago to work for Robert Walters.

"It was a difficult decision, but you have to think about professional growth and the future," she said. "I already had friends in Chile and my family supported me."

Now recruit other Argentines. "It is more attractive to single candidates, but even those with families are considering it now because of the attraction of a stable job with prospects," she said.

In Argentina itself, the companies that help their countrymen out are experiencing a boom.

Bernardo Carignano, creator of the visa assistance website "I cheer up and you," said he saw traffic to his site increase the week after the elections to the highest levels since he entered online in 2008.

"On Instagram too, in these last weeks we have begun to notice that our followers are increasing day by day much more than previous weeks," he said.

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