The job market Spain's unemployment rate is one of the highest in Europe – with around one in five people without work – although Spain is also one of the European Union's (EU) fastest growing economies. As the country slowly recovers from economic downturn, unemployment is decreasing, falling 2.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 20.8 percent. Some sectors have even reported increased recruitment in past years, for example, in Spain’s largest region, Castilla y León, there were more opportunities than before the crisis for personal care workers, construction workers and chefs.
Youth unemployment, however, continues to be an issue and graduates report difficulties finding quality and permanent work. With a youth unemployment rate at more than 45 percent, many of the country's educated workforce has looked abroad for better opportunities. The highest levels of unemployment, however, have been among unskilled workers, so those with education and experience will fare better when looking for jobs in Spain.
If you’re looking for graduate work, you’ll still be competing against large numbers of Spanish graduates but you stand the best chance in the consulting, industry and IT sectors, which have all grown in past years.
Spain's protected labour laws have also allegedly contributed to the employment crisis by influencing an environment where almost half of new contracts are temporary, as companies are reluctant to hire new or young staff because of the potentially high costs.
Available jobs in Spain There are certain sectors in Spain where vacancies exist as the positions are difficult to fill, particularly in highly skilled positions.The Spanish government maintains a list of shortage occupations in each Spanish region, and allows for an expedited and a less restricted hiring processes for such job vacancies. The EURES job mobility portal also supplies job vacancies and labour market information for Spain.
Shortage occupations generally include medium to highly qualified positions in teaching (including language teachers and in universities), mechanical, industrial and production engineers, computing and business experts, commercial relations, medical practitioners, web and multi-media development, real estate, hotels, restaurants and tourism.
In 2015, the top growing job sectors included accounting and finance, agribusiness, business management and marketing, renewable energy, the creative sector, engineering and information technology (IT).
Seasonal work in the tourist trade and teaching English are both popular sources of employment for foreigners, as are services catering to the large expat populations along Spain's coastal regions and in major cities, such as Madrid, Barcelona and Seville. Otherwise, Spanish is typically a job requirement.
In the current job market, it's important not to rule out getting a temporary job or taking on a lower salary at first until you can find something more permanent.
Spanish work environment and labour law The average full-time working week is just over 40 hours, from 9am until as late as 8pm, with long lunch breaks between 2pm and 4–5pm still practised in some companies. Work talk starts after the coffee, and lunch is considered a time to relax and mix with colleagues, rather than the working lunch you may be used to back home. However, in larger companies and multinationals, particularly in major cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, you will likely find the usual working hours and standard one-hour lunch break.
Companies still tend to be hierarchically structured, with strategic and other decisions being taken at the top. Meetings are held to exchange information or give instructions, not to come to a consensus.
Expect business colleagues to spend time getting to know you at a first meeting – it’s all about establishing trust between you with personal qualities being highly valued – and negotiations can be lengthy. Individualism is preferred over teamwork although modesty is more appreciated than assertiveness in employees.
Salaries in Spain contracted across almost all sectors following the economic crisis, with the public sector particularly affected. However, as the economy strengthens salaries are showing signs of growth, particuarly in the private sector and in e-commerce, tourism, engineering, procurement and construction. In 2016, the Ministerio de Empleo y Seguridad Social (Employment and Social Security Ministry) raised the minimum salary (salario mínimo interprofesional (SMI) to EUR 655,20 per month or EUR 21,84 per day.