What is the current state of the labour market in Spain?

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A recent study looking at the Spanish labour market in the post-pandemic period has shown that while the number of permanent contracts has risen and that certain industries have more vacancies than ever, this is not always translating into higher salaries for some Spaniards. 

The study by InfoJobs, a jobs portal, has shown that the number of contratos indefinidos (permanent contracts) have increased substantially. According to their data, 38 percent of job vacancies published in 2022 offered permanent contracts, an increase of 493,612 jobs which represents 92 percent more than the previous year.

READ ALSO: How a spike in permanent contracts is improving job security in Spain

The Spanish labour market has long been based on unstable working arrangements. This was something the government tried to rectify with reform in 2022. Before the government’s labour reform came into force, fixed-term contracts represented the vast majority of those signed month on month in Spain, many of which were lined up one after another and some contratos temporales could last just hours.

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In fact, in 2021 Spain had the highest number of temporary contracts in Europe, and in 2021 the percentage of jobs offering permanent contracts was 24 percent, so 2022 represented an increase of fourteen percentage points in terms of permanent contracts as a proportion of the job market. 

READ ALSO: Spain’s labour market buoyed by sharp drop in temporary contracts

By the end of 2022 20.5 million people were employed in Spain, close to the all-time high of 20.75 million recorded at the end of 2007.

According to the study, the average salary offered by Spanish companies is now €24,395 per year, just 1.6 percent more than in 2019, the year before the pandemic, but inflation has pushed prices up by double-digit figures across the board, meaning that for many this will actually feel like a pay cut.

Vacancies and salaries

The report studied over 200 professional industries and concluded that the position with the most job openings in Spain was teleoperator, a role with 347,122 vacancies throughout 2022 and offering an average salary of €17,409 per year.

Despite the fact that call centre work usually requires neither training nor experience, InfoJobs reports that there are just 13 applications per vacancy, one of the lowest competition ratios.

The secretary of the UGT in Galicia, Suso Mosquera, who is herself a teleoperator by profession, says it is a career “that people enter on a provisional basis, always hoping to find something better.”

When searching for teleoperator jobs on the InfoJobs portal there is an abundance of vacancies for permanent, full-time contracts, but only around half of those pay above Spain’s minimum wage (known as salario mínimo interprofesional or SMI) of €15,120, typifying the study’s conclusion that the creation of more permanent contracts is not necessarily translating into higher salaries or more stable working conditions for all.

“The average salary has not risen and the difficulties in filling some positions have become more acute,” Monica Perez, Director of Studies at Infojobs, said of the job market. 

READ ALSO: Spain’s govt salvages key labour reform thanks to voting error

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Emerging jobs 

The study also identified emerging jobs in Spain, particularly in the digital and green energy sectors.

Digital security jobs, cloud security and analysis, data and artificial intelligence positions are all growing, but also digital jobs in the marketing, law, healthcare and engineering sectors.

Though the speciality of these positions often means there aren’t that many vacancies, digital and tech positions are clearly on the rise: if we take job offers for cybersecurity engineer positions, for example, there are only 249 on the InfoJobs portal, but that figure has quadrupled in just one year.

The rapid expansion of green energy jobs also stands out. Solar panel installers, for example, are in demand, with vacancies increasing almost eightfold. The same applies to digital economy consultants, which has increased tenfold.

Best paid

According to InfoJobs, the job with the best average salary in Spain in 2022 was IT business analyst, which was €53,727 per year, with an increase of €6,571, a 14 percent rise.

Overall, when ranking salaries by sector, computer and telecommunications jobs dominated the results, with an average gross salary of €32,520 across the board.

Along with IT business analysts, the other top earning professions were estate agent (€51,721), IT system design, (€51,343), software architects (€50,045), and IT technical managers (€48,966).

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Regional breakdown

Madrid, with 791,662  job openings in 2022, and Catalonia, with 578,819, were the regions with the most vacancies throughout the year, making up 29 percent and 22 percent of the total number of positions offered on InfoJobs respectively.

The next highest number was in Andalusia (282,356 jobs, 11 percent of the total vacancies) and Valencia (236,651, 9 percent).

Mental health

However, the return to work after the pandemic also seems to have brought with it another consequence: mental health struggles.

The results of the InfoJobs survey showed that 27 percent of workers have considered leaving their job, and many of them for mental health reasons. In fact, around a third of workers cited mental health as the reason, closely followed by those citing working conditions, a desire for a career change, and to improve their work-life balance.

Analysing the data by age, workers over 45 are the ones who most often cite mental health as a reason for leaving or thinking about quitting their jobs.