Brain drain: Spain wants to woo back skilled workers who left due to crisis

The Spanish government said Wednesday it is working on a plan to persuade skilled workers who left the country during its 2008-2013 economic slump to return home.

Brain drain: Spain wants to woo back skilled workers who left due to crisis
Photo: kesto/Depositphotos

The number of Spaniards registered as living abroad  jumped by over 940,000 after 2009, according to government figures, as unemployment soared in Spain due to a steep recession sparked by the global financial crisis.   

The majority were young doctors, engineers, scientists and other skilled workers which the government would like to help return to Spain, secretary of state for migrations, Consuelo Rumi, told a news conference.

The plan, which is due to come into force in 2019, does not set a target for the number of workers it hopes to woo back, she added.

READ MORE: 'Working poor' abound in Spain despite economic recovery

The scheme will mainly involve facilitating contact via the internet between Spanish expats and firms in Spain looking for skilled workers.   

“The profiles of workers demanded by companies…are linked to technology and research,” Rumi said.

The government does not plan to provide financial aid to encourage skilled workers to return, except for “important” research projects which would bring “added value” to the country, she added.

Rumi acknowledged there is “resistance” on the part of skilled workers to return to Spain, where working conditions and pay are often less favourable than in their new home countries.

Spain is more reliant on temporary contracts than any other EU nation. More than one in four workers, 26.9 per cent, was employed on a temporary contract in the second quarter, according to the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat.

While the country's jobless rate is down from a peak of nearly 27 per cent in 2013 to 14.5 percent in September, it is still the second-highest in the eurozone after Greece.

Britain and Germany were the two countries that saw the biggest jump in the number of Spanish immigrants during the economic crisis.   

Of the roughly 2.5 million Spaniards who live abroad, 1.5 million are in the Americas, mainly in the country's former colonies in South America.

READ ALSO: UK bids adios to Spanish nurses 'betrayed' by Brexit

For members


Why does my salary vary between months in Spain if I’m a contract employee?

If you’re employed by a company in Spain, you may have noticed that what you get paid each month is sometimes higher and other times lower. Here's why this happens and how you can understand it better.

Why does my salary vary between months in Spain if I'm a contract employee?

Many asalariados (salaried employees) across Spain will have noticed that their wages at the beginning of 2022 may have been lower than that net salary they received at the end of 2021.

This is in fact usually not down to error, but comes as a result of your company withholding a higher amount of personal income tax (IRPF) at the start of the year, resulting in you getting paid less.

Companies in Spain are obliged to withhold a certain percentage of your salary called IRPF (Impuesto sobre la Renta de las Personas Físicas).

This, in turn, gets passed on to Spain’s Hacienda tax agency. Your gross salary and personal circumstances mean that the income tax withheld will vary.

Your employer will calculate the amount of your gross salary you must pay to the Treasury as personal income tax and will deduct it from your payroll month by month. This can be done between the 12 or 14 salary payments per year.

Alternatively, a lower percentage of tax may be applied in the first months of the year, which is then adjusted by raising it in the final few months of the year, or vice versa, which is why fluctuations can occur.

You should keep in mind that if at the beginning of the year you received a raise, had a baby or opened a pension plan, it may mean that the tax withheld from your company will go up or down. Having a new baby for example gives you a reduction.  

What if I believe there is an error in my IRPF calculations?

If you still believe there is an error, this can be rectified whilst filing your annual income tax return – la declaración de la renta – which you should each year between April and June.

READ ALSO – La Renta: The important income tax deadlines in Spain in 2022

If you receive an annual gross salary of less than €22,000, you are not required to fill out an annual tax declaration, but may want to do so if you believe that your employer has been deducting too much tax. If the error is found in your favour, Spain’s tax agency will return your overpaid tax.

How can I find out how much tax will be deducted in advance?

If you want to be prepared and find out exactly how much tax your company will deduct from your salary each month, you can fill out this tax calculator for 2022 found on the Hacienda website. This will let you know exactly how much IRPF should be deducted from your wage, depending on your personal circumstances. 

Your employer may also ask you to fill out the form Modelo 145 to help them work out how much tax you should pay.

The form will ask you for your current personal situation such as marital status, if you have children or other dependents. Depending on the outcome of this, you may get further discounts on the amount of tax that is withheld.