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Finding work in Spain in Covid times: the most in-demand jobs

Getting a well-paid and secure job in Spain was challenging enough before the coronavirus pandemic. So where do foreigners looking for work in the country now stand when it comes to landing "trabajo" in a weakened labour market? And what jobs will be most sought after in post-Covid Spain?

Finding work in Spain in Covid times: the most in-demand jobs
Photo: Brooke Cagle/Unsplash

First, the bad news.

One of the saddest consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic for Spain’s work market is that, after years of gradual recovery from “la crisis”, the country’s economy is once again staring into the abyss.

Spain’s current unemployment rate is still not as sky-high as it was when it peaked at 27 percent back in 2013, but the full consequences of Covid-19 on the economy haven’t been felt yet.

According to Eurostat, Spain saw an unprecedented drop of 18.5 percent in its GDP in the second quarter of 2020, more so than any other EU country and enough to push its economy into recession.

Around 1.35 million jobs – most of them in tourism – were destroyed during the months of lockdown, the country’s National Statistics Institute (INE) reported in July.

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A further 739,000 workers were still receiving protection through the country’s temporary redundancy plans (ERTE) in February.

In late September the Spanish government announced it would extend this coronavirus furlough scheme until the end of January, (and again until May) which means that until then and in the months following that financial aid withdrawal, it will be hard to judge just how many people will be laid off.

All this is fairly disheartening information if you’re looking for a job in Spain, but it shouldn’t necessarily deter you from moving here or staying here.

“Spain has a historic opportunity to use the Recovery Fund and look at best practices from other EU countries to lessen the chronic weaknesses of its labour market,” BBVA Institute researcher Rafael Doménech writes.

So, is there a silver lining?

The advent and acceptance of teleworking in Spain as a result of the coronavirus lockdown and other mobility restrictions opens up more possibilities in terms of flexible working conditions for foreigners and locals.

This means that if you don’t want to commute to a Spanish city every day or live in one, and your job allows for it, you have higher chances of negotiating remote working.

“This change has arisen unexpectedly and it is evident that it has caused an absolute revolution in the way of working in Spain”, Manuel Primo, director of Europea University’s master’s degree in Human Resources Management, told ABC.

Studies by human resources and recruitment leaders such as Adecco and ManpowerGroup carried out before and after the start of the pandemic also suggest that many job trends in Spain remain the same.

Professional training and language teaching are still sought after professions in Spain. Photo: Neonbrand/Unplash

Although it’s true that the outlook for Spain’s all-important tourism and hospitality industry (accounting for around 12 percent of Spain’s GDP and 2.6 million jobs) depends largely on how long the virus lasts , the shift towards automation and digitalisation is now stronger than ever. 

An Adecco report published in February 2020 before Spain’s lockdown suggested that new technologies such as artificial intelligence, e-commerce, cybersecurity, app and web development and big data analysis were some of the sectors in Spain with the lowest unemployment rates.

Adecco’s report in May found that these online digital job fields are still very sought after.

“All companies have seen the need to digitize their organizations, and this is no longer going backwards,” Carmen Mur, founder of the Mur & Partners consultancy firm for engineers, told El País.

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What are the most in-demand jobs in Spain currently?

According to Adecco Institute, employers are not just interested in finding candidates with tech skills.

The lockdown’s essential workers continue to be some of Spain’s most sought after as the country recovers from the coronavirus.

Commerce and distribution

Warehouse personnel

Supermarket assistant

Delivery person

Manufacturing

Factory workers

Agriculture

Fruit picker

Customer service

Operator, sales

Admin and secretary (languages wanted)

IT

Help Desk technicians

Technical teams (app and web developers)

Health

Care home workers

Specialised health workers: doctors, nurses, social service workers

Group services

In-person service at hospitals, care homes, canteens

Public service

Cleaning personnel

Bus driver

Other workers in the health, pharmaceutical, food and transport sector will continue to be highly sought after as they were during the height of the pandemic.

“We’re getting a lot of requests for temporary workers, consulting solutions for health and safety matters relating to the return to the workplace, training of workers on the furlough scheme, outsourcing of new extra tasks in sectors that require specific health and safety measures and even highly qualified roles to address medium-term strategies,” Rubén Castro, commercial director of the Adecco Group in Spain, explains in his company report.

Where do foreigners in Spain stand in terms of jobs?

Foreigners can take advantage of skill they’ve acquired in other countries to have the competitive edge in Spain.

This can also help to make up for a lack of proficiency in Spanish (a good command of the language is a must in most companies). 

Professional training is also highly sought after in post-Covid Spain so you may be able to give courses in your speciality.

According to Expatica, foreigners “can still find jobs in Spain in a number of sectors including IT, automotive, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food and beverage and tourism”.

Job opportunities vary greatly across Spain’s different regions, which you can check on EURES job mobility portal.

Language skills continue to be a good way for foreigners to land a job in Spain.

Whether it’s through English teaching or a job in real estate or customer services, foreign languages can help international candidates stand out. Once Spain’s tourism industry has recovered, there will also be opportunities for English speakers and linguists in Spain.

Many more school teachers are also needed in post-Covid Spain, with the latest reports pointing to a lack of 160,000 teachers in public schools, some of which are international.  

You can search for English language jobs on The Local’s Jobs portal.

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Do I have to take most of my annual leave in August in Spain?

Many Spanish companies still expect their workers to take their holidays at specific times of the year, primarily in August, right in the height of summer when many hotels are fully booked. So what are your rights, are you obliged to take your vacation in one particular month?

Do I have to take most of my annual leave in August in Spain?

While it’s your right as an employee to be able to take holiday days, do you have to take them when your company wants you to take them, or are you able to choose and have more flexibility?

Despite August being one of the hottest months in Spain and the one month of the year when many official companies and offices shut up shop, not everyone necessarily wants to take their break at the same time as everyone else.

Taking your holidays in August means less availability in hotels, overcrowding and more expensive transport and accommodation. If you don’t have children who are off from school during the summer months, then you may wish to take your vacation days at another time of the year, when it’s less busy and cheaper.

To answer the question it’s important to know the details about what the law says about how paid time off is taken, requested, imposed, or granted.

What laws or regulations dictate the rules about paid holiday time?

There are three different sets of rules and regulations, which are responsible for regulating the laws on vacation time in Spain. 

Firstly, you need to look at the Spanish Workers’ Statute, which includes rights, duties and obligations applicable to all salaried workers in Spain.

Secondly, you need to be aware of the collective sector and/or company agreements, which may dictate the rules for a particular industry for example.

Thirdly, you need to look at the contract, which you signed with your employer when you started working for them. This sets out your individual circumstances and the rules you must abide by.   

Workers Statute

As a general rule, all employees are subject to the Workers’ Statute. Holidays are part of this and are the subject of article 38. These conditions can never be contradicted by individual companies and are set as a guaranteed minimum. 

The minimum number of holidays in Spain is 30 calendar days per year. This equals two and a half days per month worked, in the case of temporary contracts. The statute states that vacations must be taken between January 1st and December 31st in separate periods, but one of them must be for at least two weeks. They are always paid and cannot be exchanged for financial compensation.

The period when you can take them is set by a common agreement between the employer and the worker, in accordance with what is established in the collective agreements on annual vacation planning. If there is disagreement, the social jurisdiction is resorted to.

At a minimum, the company must offer vacation days at least two months before the beginning of the holiday period, so that the employee has time to organise and book.   

When the planned time to take vacations coincides with a temporary disability, pregnancy, or childbirth, you have the right to enjoy the vacations at another time, even after the calendar year is over.

Collective agreements on vacations  

Your sector’s collective agreements may also help to answer this question. These aim to improve upon the basic and general rights that are included in the Workers’ Statute. They seek to adapt the rules to each type of industry or company. They could, for example, set out extra vacation days, which are greater than the standard 30 calendar days. 

You will need to find out what your specific sector or company’s collective agreement is. There is a possibility that your sector or company has mandatory summer vacations for the month of August and in that case, you can choose vacation dates, but only within this month.

Your work contract 

Lastly, you will need to consult your individual contract which you signed with the company when you were hired.  As well as the minimum conditions set out in the Workers’ Statute, your contract sets out your particular agreement with your employer in terms of holiday duration, the work calendar and other details.

Therefore, you should state in your contract whether you have to take your holidays during August, or if you’re free to take them at other times of the year.

If after consulting these three sets of regulations and there are still in doubt or in disagreement with your company about vacations, such as having to take them during the month of August, you should consult a lawyer specialising in labor law. They should be able to give you an answer specific to your situation.  

Can I appeal or disagree and what are the consequences? 

To appeal or express disagreement with what is proposed by the company, there is a period of 20 business days from when the vacation schedule is sent out, after which time you don’t have the right to show that you disagree.  

Companies can proceed to disciplinary dismissals due to abandonment of the job if you decide to take vacations that have not been granted or agreed upon with your employer. To avoid this type of problem, always make sure you have a record in writing of your request for vacation time and subsequent approval by the company.

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