Sabine de Buyzer gets up early in the morning and gets ready for work. She works for Candelia, an furniture company based out of Lille in north-eastern France. She reaches her office and turns on her computer. Candelia is doing well. Its revenue that week is outpacing expenses, even counting taxes and salaries. “We have to be profitable,” Ms. de Buyzer said. “Everyone’s working all out to make sure we succeed.”
But there’s a catch. Candelia is not a real company, and de Buyzer is not doing a real job. Sick of being unemployed, many Europeans are turning to fake jobs, the New York Times has reported.
The phenomenon is pervasive. Europe is battling a severe unemployment crisis, with 50% of young people out of jobs in countries like Greece. This has led to the mushrooming of thousands of fake companies across Europe that hire fake employees to sell fake products to fake customers.
The Times described Sabine de Buyzer thought process behind the bizarre arrangement:
She lost her job as a secretary two years ago and has been unable to find steady work. Since January, though, she had woken up early every weekday, put on makeup and gotten ready to go the office. By 9 a.m. she arrives at the small office in a low-income neighborhood of Lille, where joblessness is among the highest in the country.
While she doesn’t earn a paycheck, Ms. de Buyzer, 41, welcomes the regular routine. Since says that she has a lot more confidence since she’s joined, and just wants to work.
These fake companies are all part of an elaborate training network that effectively operates as a parallel economic universe. For years, the aim was to train students and unemployed workers looking to make a transition to different industries. Now they are being used to combat the alarming rise in long-term unemployment, one of the most pressing problems to emerge from Europe’s long economic crisis.