As unemployment reached around 8.9 percent in Brazil during the third quarter and with those out of work soon set to reach around 10 percent of the population during 2016, increasingly unusual job opportunities are now available to those looking for work.
In fact, for Brazilian Christmas lovers who fancy sharing the festive spirit and may be carrying a bit extra around their middles there is now a new chance to cash in on the seasonal cheer: signing up for Santa School.
The Escola de Papai Noel do Brasil, (Brazilian Santa School), is located in Rio de Janeiro. Despite the sweltering temperatures during November and December, hoards of budding Santas have signed up, set to hone their craft before making hospital and shopping mall appearances in the run up to Christmas.
“It’s been a totally different year for us. Due to the crisis, we have had more interest than ever and from different candidates,” Limachem Cherem, school director for the past 20 years comments.
“Our Santa candidates are generally around 50-years-old and we prefer them to have a beard and grey hair,” he explains.
“But now we are receiving increasing numbers of applications from young people aged between 20 and 30-years-old, which isn’t very common,” he adds.
Pedro Martín, aged 60-years-old, lives in Guadalupe in the north of Rio de Janeiro. After over 30 years constructing oil drilling platforms and rigs he was made redundant earlier this year, the BBC reports.
Martín is not alone, some 14,000 workers in Brazil’s maritime industry were made redundant during the first half of the year, all of them in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The drop in global oil prices and ongoing Petrobras corruption scandal are some of the determining factors behind these mass job cuts, affecting thousands of workers across the country.
“My contract for working in platform construction was until 2018,” he recalls. “I felt very disappointed.”
But after finding an advert for the school online, Martín will now be spending his first Christmas season working as Santa Claus, fighting it out amongst the increasing numbers of lawyers, engineers and civil servants to gain a booking.
Between November and December 25 last year, Santa earned between $3,700 and $5,000 working in Rio de Janeiro, a drop from Martín’s previous $16,000 annual salary.
“I know I could get hired, so I have been sending out my CV. I intend to go back to working in the oil sector,” Martín comments.
For now, Santa is not only bringing a smile to children’s faces across Brazil. Adults too are cashing in on the magic of Christmas.