Spanish, Portuguese swamp VW training offer

Volkswagen has been inundated with applications for a program that gives young engineers from hard-hit Portugal and Spain two years of training and a chance for a permanent job.

The company says it had 1,800 applicants for 43 spots in its "StartUp Europe" program for new engineers from southern Europe.

Both countries are suffering from the eurozone debt crisis. In Spain, unemployment for people under 25 is 52.7 percent.

VW's personnel chief, Horst Neumann, said that even with strong qualifications "many young people in southern Europe have problems entering a career in their home country." It said Volkswagen was looking for young people who already had some international experience.

Trainees work for two months in Spain and Portugal, then 21 months in Germany, where the economy remains strong.