MADRID – Recruiting new employees in Spain continues to be a tricky endeavour. A recent survey among 300 Spanish companies reveals that a staggering 93% find filling vacancies this year as difficult or even more challenging than in 2022.
Only 7% of companies find the recruitment process easier this year. This is according to the Human Resources Trends Report, compiled by Randstad in collaboration with CEOE.
To tackle the acute shortage of qualified staff, companies are focusing on flexibility, employer branding, and revising selection criteria. “Especially flexible working hours, the option for remote work, and an intensive workday without the interruption of a long lunch break between 2.00 pm and 4.00 pm are popular in terms of flexibility,” says a spokesperson for the research firm.
The study also highlights that companies’ main organisational goals are aimed at the following areas;
- increasing productivity (58%)
- adapting to new operational circumstances (75%)
- seeking financial efficiency (45%).
“Most companies plan to implement organisational changes to meet these challenges and adapt to the current complex economic reality,” continues the spokesperson. “The focus is primarily on cost reduction, in 87% of cases, and promoting digitization and technological innovation (82%).” Companies should thus develop proactive strategies that not only focus on recruitment but also talent retention.
Spanish SMEs: Job vacancies “a gigantic problem”
According to Gerardo Cuerva, Chairman of Cepyme, the trade organisation for SMEs in Spain, the numerous job vacancies in Spain form “a gigantic problem.” The situation is so dire that seven out of ten companies report difficulties in finding suitable staff.
A study of over 200 companies among the roughly 1.3 million SMEs with employees shows that most businesses are unable to attract the talent they need. However, contrary to public opinion, Cepyme does not identify wages as the main cause of the problem.
Official figures and reality
According to official statistics from Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE), there are around 150,000 unfilled job vacancies in Spain, which make up 0.9% of the total. Although this figure is alarming, Cepyme argues that it still underestimates the actual scale of the problem.
Most SMEs attribute their problems to a range of factors, including inadequate training, demographic challenges, bureaucratic hurdles in attracting foreign talent, and even social benefits that discourage people from working.
Interestingly, wages are almost absent as a significant factor in Cepyme’s study. This contrasts sharply with trade unions and the Ministry of Labour, who see wages as one of the core issues.
Increasing wage pressure
“The mismatch between supply and demand in the labour market has multiple causes,” emphasises Cepyme in their press release. Despite the wage issue, which does come up in the survey but is downplayed in the report, Diego Barceló, responsible for the research, warns of increasing wage pressure.
Gerardo Cuerva of Cepyme made a call in the newspaper Eldiario: “We cannot be a subsidised country. There’s a clear discrepancy between social policy measures and active labour market policies. We must train our workers so that they can find employment,” states Cuerva.
Unions blame public employment agency
It seems paradoxical that Spanish companies suffer from a staff shortage while the country still has millions of unemployed. Unemployment in Spain is the second highest in Europe, only after Greece. Unions, however, point to the public employment agency SEPE as the cause of the staff shortage. SEPE is criticised for its inefficiency, and spokespeople from the unions even call the employment agency “a disaster” in Elmundo.es.
People register as job seekers only to hear nothing for months. “As long as this is the case, companies will continue to have problems finding staff,” says Pepe Álvarez, General Secretary of UGT.