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Contracting in Spain: What agencies need to know when placing talent

Michelle Reilly is CEO of 6CATS International

With its beautiful weather, picturesque beaches and diverse cuisine, it’s perhaps no surprise that Spain is a popular destination for contractors. In recent months, this tourist hotspot has also seen a real boom in economic activity, making it a desirable location from both a professional and personal viewpoint.

But what is driving demand for overseas expertise and what do agencies need to be aware of when placing talent in Spain?

A booming economy

At the height of the financial crisis the country had to be bailed out by the EU in 2012 as confidence plummeted. However, despite years of economic struggle since, Spain is now performing increasingly well.

According to statistics from the National Statistics Institute (INE), in the second quarter of 2017 the country’s economy had at last returned to the size it was before the credit crunch, with a 0.9% growth reported.

While it is doing well economically, Spain is known to have a high quality of life without ridiculous costs.  Renting a one-bedroom apartment in a city centre could cost as little as €550 and utility bills for an average 85m2 apartment are around €150 per month – all of which will appeal to any candidate looking for exciting opportunities overseas without the heavy financial burden. However, it is important to note that some cities are more expensive to live in – in particular San Sebastian, Barcelona and Madrid. 

Naturally, with a boom in economic activity, there is a growing need for contract professionals to fill skills and resourcing gaps. But which sectors are noting the most demand?

High-performing sectors

The tourism industry is very large in Spain – perhaps unsurprising given the attraction of sun, sea and sand that’s on offer. However, with a heavy reliance on this arena, employment figures can be impacted at the end of high season. Indeed, reports in September revealed that almost 3.4 million people were out of work.

It’s important to note, though, that while this figure is high, many commentators don’t find it concerning. With a booming seasonal industry, it’s expected that unemployment numbers will rise at the end of summer. In fact, looking at the statistics, the tourist season for 2017 resulted in the lowest jobless rate in the country in eight years.

Spain is also proving to be a real hotspot for the biotech field, with numerous reports of large investments being directed to Spanish biotech firms. One such company is Peptomyc which specialises in peptide cancer therapies. The Barcelona-based business received a €4.2m investment in September alone. However, like much of the world, the country has struggled to source the experienced STEM specialists required for large-scale projects.

Other sectors currently performing well are the health and social services industries, which have seen the highest number of new jobs created according to Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities. In comparison, manufacturing, education and construction haven’t fared as well with a slight drop in employment opportunities, though reports suggest these will pick up again towards the end of the year.

Legislative matters

While life is relatively similar to that of the UK, there are a few things recruitment firms placing contractors in this country should be aware of. Firstly, very few firms based in Spain are seeking professionals who can’t speak the local language in some form – even for English facing roles. Any candidate, then, needs to know basic Spanish.

In terms of work permits, non-EU nationals will require one but unlike most other EU countries, they are not impossible to get.  There are currently no special requirements for UK nationals, however this could change following Brexit.  Recruiters do need to be aware, though, that professionals seeking employment in Spain need to obtain a Numero De Identificacion de Extranjeros or ‘NIE’ (pronounced ‘near’) number. This is the foreign equivalent of the national identity number (DNI) that local residents have.

For any placements you’re making which will be over 90 days, the individual will need to sign up to the foreigners’ register. This is a separate registration process which secures the individuals tax residency and is a must when it comes to avoiding potential fines or prosecution of any parties involved in the placement as a result of incorrect tax payments.

There’s no doubt that Spain has many appealing features for professionals seeking opportunities overseas. And with a growing economy and high performing sectors seeking specialist skills, recruiters can certainly benefit from operating in the country. However, with the on-going global crackdown on tax evasion and the potential for fines or prosecution, partnering with a specialist on international contractor management solutions is certainly advisable.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

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