Will ‘The Great Resignation’ also become a problem in Spain?

by Lorraine Williamson
The Great Resignation

MADRID – In Spain, it is not that bad yet, but elsewhere it almost seems like a new pandemic: a lot of people are quitting their jobs. The phenomenon started in America and is called ‘The Great Resignation’. Subsequently, for Spain, it is growing to the point of concern for the government. 

The number of voluntary resignations in Spain is still too low to speak of a ‘great resignation’, as is done in countries such as America or Italy. However, businesses in Spain are so concerned that the government is already investigating how to handle the situation. 

This was confirmed by Labour Minister Díaz during an informative breakfast organised by Europa Press. The second vice president of the government has also assured that in the coming weeks she will call on social partners to tackle The Great Resignation. Entrepreneurs are especially concerned about technology vacancies that are not being filled. 

Growing worries 

The minister pointed out that, despite the fact that the phenomenon is not currently having the same impact as in other countries, it is worrisome nonetheless. Therefore, it is a problem that needs to be addressed before it escalates. 

“Spain needs 109,000 workers. Some of these vacancies concern the hospitality industry, but there are also other vacancies that require highly qualified personnel. These are often related to technological and digital transformation,” said the minister. 

The Great American Resignation 

The Great Resignation phenomenon started in the United States early in the year 2021. Tens of thousands of people voluntarily gave up their jobs en masse. They decide to look for better opportunities, without being forced to do so by dismissal. Some of them didn’t even have another job when they submit their resignation letter. 

From 2021 to now, the number of layoffs in the United States is staggering, with nearly 4.5 million workers leaving their jobs. The phenomenon can also be seen in other countries, such as Italy. Here, however, La Repubblica newspaper reports that 1.3 million workers resigned voluntarily in the first nine months of last year. 

Modest numbers in Spain 

Due to the high unemployment rate in Spain compared to other European countries, it would be astonishing if so many people left their jobs here. Still, there were just over 30,000 voluntary redundancies last year, according to Social Security data. 

However, several elements, apart from Minister Díaz’s announcement, indicate that a major Spanish resignation is simmering. First, the same social security data, broken down by months, shows an upward trend: between January and March, there were an average of 2,000 layoffs per month. That figure rose to an average of 2,600 between April and June. After a drop in the summer, the average from September to December 2021 was 3,000 cancellations. † 

On the other hand, the Hays Guide to the Labour Market 2022 indicates that 77% of Spaniards surveyed say they would change jobs if they could. Furthermore, 68% of them admit they are actively looking for another job. The main reason is to find a better salary. 

Companies need more people 

Companies also participate in this climate of labour optimism. According to the Hays Guide, 71% of Spanish companies surveyed plan to hire more workers by 2022. Moreover, 67% of them think their business will grow this year. The most sought-after profiles are salespeople, engineers, and IT professionals. 

Important barriers 

Despite all this, the Great Denunciation in Spain faces two major barriers: low wages and labour laws. The fairly low salaries, which are now even lower with inflation, make it difficult to find better-paid work than people already have. Furthermore, often the difference is so insignificant that changing jobs is not worth it. 

On the other hand, the accumulation of seniority, giving the Spanish worker 33 days a year in severance pay, makes many people think twice before quitting their job. The right to this compensation naturally lapses in the event of voluntary departure. 

ICT sector 

There is already a major battle for talent in the technology sector in Spain. This means that the exit barriers play a less restrictive role here. Professionals, according to human resource experts consulted by tech website Xataka, would be more willing than ever to change jobs given the proliferation of good offers due to the talent shortage. 

Also read: Spain needs more migrants to keep the economy going

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