07 May 2010

Labor mobility and language (PS)

Just as easily as I asked why the Greeks (and Portuguese, and ...) don't learn German (or English, or ...) I could ask why the Germans don't hire Greek translators.  There are certainly plenty of companies in America that find it worthwhile to employ foremen who speak English and Spanish to work with Spanish-only laborers.  Does such an arrangement exist as commonly in Europe?  My hunch is that it does not.  Why not?  What is it about German (and other "rich" European) employers and Greek (and other "poor" European) labor that this is not worthwhile?

The facile answer is that too many Greek workers are only experienced as civil servants and these skills (if we can call them skills — cheap shot but I couldn't resist) do not travel well.  I have seen many conflicting reports of how many civil servants there are in Greece though, so I do not want to rely on this.

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