MADRID – Spain is struggling with more than 111,000 unfilled vacancies, a record number since 2014. The government and unions believe that certain sectors should increase their wages and create better working conditions. However, SMEs have a different opinion.
According to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) in Spain, in the first quarter of 2020, before the pandemic, there were 102,000 unfilled vacancies. During the pandemic, this number dropped significantly to just over 85,000 vacancies. Not because the positions were filled, but mainly because employers were temporarily not looking for new people.
Relatively few vacancies in Spain compared to the rest of the EU
Although Spain has not had so many vacancies since 2014, it is relatively not that bad. According to Eurostat’s fourth-quarter 2021 data (the last quarter with data from almost all countries), at 0.7%, Spain is one of the countries with the lowest percentage of vacancies among the total number of jobs. At the end of 2021, the average percentage in the EU was 2.6%.
What is the real problem behind the vacancies in Spain?
According to unions and the Ministry of Employment, the high number of vacancies is not the real problem. According to these authorities, this must be sought in the degree of security for the workers and the conditions that employers offer them.
Particularly in the commercial, hospitality, and entertainment industries . Here, there is the lack of security, often in the form of temporary contracts. And, also too low wages are the main causes of so many vacancies. Furthermore, these sectors represent a quarter of all vacancies in Spain. On average, wages in these sectors are 25% lower than the national average, Eleconomista.es wrote at the end of May.
In addition, due to all the lockdown measures, many people who previously worked in the catering industry have started trying their luck elsewhere. Now that everything is running at full speed again and tourism is gaining momentum, the sector is short of a lot of hands.
SME Spain thinks the cause lies elsewhere
SMEs in Spain think differently about the cause of the staff shortage. Almost half of the number of unfilled vacancies can be found in SMEs. CEPYME, the association for SMEs, believes that low wages are not the problem, but the lack of a good match between training skills and the skills needed by the market. In addition, there is limited geographical mobility (Spaniards do not like to move far away for a job). Finally, the aging population and bureaucracy also contribute significantly to the imbalance in the labour market.
Also read: Spain has 1.5 million long term unemployed