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Spain mulls visas for non-EU truck drivers to cover haulier shortages

The Local Spain
The Local Spain - [email protected]
Spain mulls visas for non-EU truck drivers to cover haulier shortages
Up until now, the only way for third-country nationals to be hired from overseas for a contract job was if employers could not find an EU candidate for the position or if the job was on Spain’s shortage occupation list. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

The Spanish government looks set to offer work visas to third-country lorry drivers who can cover a shortage of hauliers that’s expected to reach 15,000 by 2030.

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Spain’s ruling left-wing coalition government continues to look for solutions to the country’s lack of workers in key fields.

Spain and Europe as a whole currently have a shortage of truck drivers, with the continent already needing 400,000 more hauliers in 2021.

There are 25 percent fewer vehicle carrier drivers in Spain than in 2019, and solutions such offering higher salaries or lowering the minimum age to drive a truck from 21 to 18 have not proven successful enough to rejuvenate a sector with an ageing workforce.

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According to the Spanish Confederation of Transport and Merchandise (CETM), by 2030 Spain’s transport sector will need 15,000 more hauliers.

CETM, together with ANFAC, the Spanish Employers' Association of Car Manufacturers, are now in talks with the Spanish government to facilitate the granting of visas to foreign workers with a licence to drive trucks.

Latin American countries and Morocco have been touted as the main recruitment markets, with a pilot training scheme for budding hauliers from the North African country already in the works.

This will see budding bus drivers and hauliers who have begun their training in Morocco finish their preparation in Spain before being offered a temporary work visa and a job.

Up until now, the only way for third-country nationals to be hired from overseas for a contract job was if employers could not find an EU candidate for the position or if the job was on Spain’s shortage occupation list.

Since 2008, this has been made up almost entirely of jobs in the maritime and shipping industry, but Spanish authorities have realised that there are many industries that are central to Spain’s economy that are struggling to find workers.

The recruitment plan, spearheaded by Spain’s Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, also stems from the need to cover jobs that comply with the country’s Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, which the EU is funding with billions of euros through its Next Generation scheme.

In August 2022, the Spanish government amended its laws relating to the rights and freedoms of non-EU foreigners in the country, as a means of resolving the bureaucratic obstacles which often prevent Spain from using migrants to cover labour shortages.

Lorry drivers now look set to be added to Spain’s shortage occupation list.

So far, the primary focus for 2023 was to hire non-EU carpenters, plumbers, electricians and other workers involved in construction, but more blue-collar jobs look likely to follow.

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