Spain: A land of sun, wine and growth
Michelle Reilly, managing director of CXC Global EMEA
Recognised as a country that has some of the best living conditions in Southern Europe with year round sunshine, Spain is certainly an attractive place to move to. With popular coastlines, diverse landscapes, a vibrant culture, a colourful historical legacy, and a well-developed infrastructure, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the country boasts one of the largest tourist industries across the globe.
But what do agencies placing professionals into Spain need to keep in mind?
At the time of writing this article the country is still in a state of flux concerning its political stance – it has been without a proper government since December – and the looming general election could certainly have an impact on work life in Spain in the near future. However, despite the political challenges facing the nation, there is a general air of positivity and productivity that could certainly be bolstered once a governing party has been decided.
Aside from its booming tourism, Spain also has a strong automotive industry that is ranked in the top ten across the globe, driving demand for specialist skills. While the Spanish firm, SEAT arguably dominates this, a number of big names also have a base in the country, including Nissan, Ford and Renault.
For professionals in the renewables field, Spain is certainly the place to be at the moment. The country is arguably at the forefront of renewable production and subsequently has a high demand for experts with niche energy skills. Spain has long been a leader in green energy and was the first country in the world to have relied on wind as its top energy source for an entire year. The country is also home to the headquarters of Repsol, a major energy company located in Madrid that employs about 24,000 people nationwide.
Despite a dip in investment in renewables during the recession, the country has made a real comeback, with reports last month from grid operator Red Electrica de Espana (REE) revealing that renewable energy sources accounted for 52.2% of Spain’s power generation in the five months to May 31st. This rise of renewable production is likely to lead to a continued growth in demand for engineering professionals with experience in harnessing green energy sources.
Spain has also long been known for its agricultural output and is the world’s largest producer of olive oil and Europe’s biggest producer of lemons, oranges and grapes. However, it has begun to move into more industrial production, becoming a top producer of textiles and subsequent machinery. As of 2014, six of the ten largest international infrastructure and transport construction firms were based in Spain, including Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), one of the world's largest manufacturers of railroad vehicles and equipment.
While the country has perhaps lagged behind most of Western Europe and still relies on the manufacturing and agricultural industries for its exports, the potential for professionals to be involved in the evolution of the country’s products and services industries is vast. And given that the economy is largely supported by small to medium sized enterprises, demand for experienced contracting staff to assist company growth will remain high.
It’s safe to say that there is a level of uncertainty surrounding Spain’s future at the moment. Despite the incredible progress it has made in moving on from its financial woes, there is still a long way to go. Unemployment levels are the highest in the Western world and public finances remain dire. But, if predictions are correct, Spain is on track to once again be one of the fastest-growing nations in the EU, ahead of Germany, France and Italy. And as a contractor, who wouldn’t want to be part of that growth?
For recruiters placing professional staff into the country, though, there are a number of things to be aware of. Contracting in Spain can be complex. The taxation system is a progressive multi-layered system and is one of the most effective in Europe. Not only this, but the country has also entered into Double Taxation Treaties with some nations. And given the uncertain political future of the country, it’s advisable to seek expert advice on local tax and employment laws to avoid any potentially hefty fines.