The coronavirus pandemic hit Spain hard, causing an abrupt disruption in not only the country’s economic performance but also its labor market. Let’s take a look at the employment outlook of Spain.
By Mary Anne Thompson, founder, and president, GoinGlobal Inc.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Spain’s labor market was already characterized by high unemployment and a tendency to meltdown during global crises since its shift to democracy. Even during good periods, the country’s unemployment rate never dipped below 7.9%.
Then, in the early months of the pandemic, the country suffered one of the highest COVID-19 infection rates in Europe, and the national central government imposed severe lockdown periods. Not enough has changed since the onset of the virus, and now Spain’s employment market is one of the most damaged in Europe.
In the first phase of the pandemic, more than 1.2 million jobs were lost in the country, which represented an annual employment decrease of 6.1%. In the peak of the first COVID-19 wave, new job openings decreased by more than 70%, according to Adecco and Infoempleo. In 2020, the national unemployment rate registered more than 16%, its steepest increase since 2009, when the country was hit by the Great Recession.
In the Short Term
Many Spanish employees have been able to maintain their jobs thanks to smart-working or teleworking modalities. Remote working is expected to continue growing, and the Spanish government has recently passed new labor laws to facilitate the change and ensure workers’ rights.
While the economic panorama does not look promising in the short and medium term, the national government and the EU have recently agreed to channel new funding to the recovery of Spain’s employment markets. The central government has supported many temporary employment adjustment schemes (known as “ERTEs” or Expedientes de Regulación Temporal de Empleo) to cover around 70% of employee salaries. Other measures have been implemented to stimulate vulnerable sectors, as well as vulnerable social groups, and new ERTEs have been recently extended.
In the Long Term
As the new waves of the pandemic continue to affect the country’s damaged labor market and vaccines are slowly provided, experts do not foresee Spain’s job-creation levels returning to pre-COVID marks until past 2024. Analysts at Manpower predict the country’s employment market will not recover its best dynamism until 2026.
While it is not clear how the new EU loans and recovery funds (more than 140 million EUR) will be implemented in the future, experts believe much of this economic stimulus will be directed to improve the education system and the skills of Spanish workers, as well as public health programs and the acceleration of decarbonization. These plans aim to make the country’s workforce more competitive, while also opening fresh opportunities for professionals and experts in the future.
Areas of Job Promise
As well as health care professionals, the Spanish labor market also continues to look for highly specialized IT roles, sales professionals, and customer care experts. Most job openings are in:
- Health care
- Customer service
- Home delivery and home-care services
- Data analysis
As the pandemic has also forced many companies to accelerate their digitization transformation, these are the seven most demanded qualifications and occupations in the country – for which experts foresee companies will offer some of the highest average salaries in the country:
- AI experts
- Data architects
- DevOps engineers
- Cybersecurity experts
- Big data specialists
- Data analysts
- Digital Marketing professionals
While the public health crisis eliminated thousands of jobs, there are others in high demand.
Most demanded Vocational Training Degrees (higher education specializations):
- Administration and Management
- Electricity and Electronics
- Mechanical Manufacturing
- Installation and Maintenance
- Computing and Communications
Most demanded university degrees:
- Business Administration and Management
- Industrial Engineering
- Computer Engineering
- Business Administration and Law
- Labor Sciences, Labor Relations and Human Resources
- Commerce and Marketing
- Mechanical Engineering
Skills in Demand
These are some of the most important qualities and abilities that Spanish employers are now looking for, according to LinkedIn:
- Advanced communication skills
- Business administration
- Problem-solving competences
- Data sciences
- Technical support experience
- Project management
- Digital literacy
- Understanding of employee learning and development
As the pandemic has accelerated change in business dynamics and labor markets, most experts agree that the following four soft skills will be key to most competitive future positions:
- Crossed collaboration
- Constant learning
- Growth spirit
Spain, like so many countries around the world, has so much healing to do before it can get its economy back in shape and its people at maximum employment. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Spain was struggling to complete its economic recovery from the Great Recession. This latest setback could not be avoided, and the Spanish people will have to be steadfast and patient as the country works its way back from a devastating year. There is hope in the current employment needs, the growing crop of employees working remotely, and the brighter economic future on the horizon.
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