Portugal’s secretary of state for labour will be in Paris from Friday to promote the Return programme to encourage the return of emigrants, which has already received about 15,500 applications since 2019, the minister told Lusa.
“Today, as is known, all countries seek to attract people and we have a lot of talent scattered in different corners of the world. We have to do everything to attract those who left not by act of will, but by circumstance of not finding at the time the opportunities in the labour market that they would like, and that today the country (Portugal) has a very low unemployment rate, that we have an economy that is growing and that we have projects where they can fit in,” said Miguel Fontes, in statements to the Lusa agency.
The first stop of the secretary of state for labour in France is the Portuguese consulate-general in Paris, where he has planned a public information session to talk about this programme, then at the weekend a new session at the event Estados Gerais da Lusodescendência em França (General States of Lusodescendence in France), which is also taking place in the capital, with a team from the secretary of state leaving early next week to Lyon for another session with the community.
According to data provided by Miguel Fontes, since 2019, when the programme was launched, the Portuguese authorities have received around 15,500 applications from emigrants scattered around the world, with 11,200 being approved, or around 70%, although it is not known how many are actually already living in Portugal. The largest number of applications has come from Switzerland, France and the United Kingdom, he said.
Currently, this programme offers tax and financial advantages, assistance in finding work, support in recognising qualifications and even language improvement to Portuguese people who want to return to the country, including the children of emigrants, who even if they have never lived in Portugal, want to settle in the country of origin of their parents or grandparents.
“The idea is to attract people already born in the countries of emigration, even though the overwhelming majority of those who have returned are people who left between 2011 and 2015. And that is why it is important to hold these sessions in France to publicise this programme and show that even those who were born in other countries, who even have a desire to settle in Portugal, can do so,” indicated Miguel Fontes.
Among the candidates for the Return programme, about 40% have higher education qualifications, a feature that the governor points out.
In order to attract emigrants and descendants of Portuguese living abroad, where wages are higher than in Portugal, and with data showing that in 2021 about 60,000 Portuguese left the country, the secretary of state ensures that the executive is doing everything to retain young people in Portugal.
“We have to act on all fronts and, therefore, we are making a determined effort to create the conditions for this less desired and more forced emigration not to happen. And we have several measures underway in this direction, from the wage rise for young people,” indicated the minister, listing also the free nurseries and the fight against casual labour.
For Miguel Fontes, only thus Portugal will be able to overcome its demographic problem and win “the fierce fight” for talents.
“Today countries and organisations, in an economy based on knowledge, on information, need people and qualified people. So there is a fierce fight for these people, we know that we have a demographic problem in Portugal and that we cannot overcome it just waiting for the cycle to reverse”, he concluded.