Labor market | The myth of the lack of staff: vacancies represent less than 1% of employees


Absolutely not”. This is how Jesús Cruz Villalón, professor of labor law and social security at the University of Seville, answers when asked if vacancies, jobs that are not yet filled, are a problem important in Spain. Álvaro Gaertner, technician of the economic cabinet of the CCOO and one of the people in charge of the publication ‘Analysis of job offers in Spain’ is in complete agreement with Cruz. The data backs them up. The percentage of vacant jobs, jobs calculated in relation to the number of employees, represented a 0.9% at the start of 2022, well below the European average of 2.9%, according to Eurostat data. In addition, 94.4% of companies declare that they have no vacancies, according to the quarterly survey on the cost of labor by the INE.

So how do you explain that every summer of tourism they deplore the lack of manpower? Or, how is it that from different sectors it is criticized that there are no qualified personnel?

The truth is that although the percentage in relation to vacancies is very low and “especially affects certain sectors, it has increased a lot in the last two years”, points out Cruz. Thus, while in the first quarter of 2021 there were a total of 100,041 vacancies, this figure was 133,988 in the same period of 2022, which represents an increase of more than 30% in a single year.

The public sector is the one with the most vacancies, due to their slow hiring process. However, sectors that are closely linked to tourism, especially in places where the temporary rental offer is very limited and expensive such as on the islands, are also strongly affected by this problem, which in this case has much more visibility. . The third and fourth sectors most affected by vacancies are health activities and more technical professionswhich require a more qualified workforce, which is often not recycled at the speed required by the labor market.

“The pandemic has accelerated this process because with the ERTE, employment was blocked and, when the market reactivated, the number of job offers increased and, consequently, that of vacancies”, explains the teacher.

However, this phenomenon may be surprising if one takes into account the fact that Spain has the rate of unemployment highest in the EU. A figure that was 13.65% at the start of 2022, according to the Active Population Survey. How come there are vacancies with such a high percentage of unemployment?

The explanations of the experts consulted coincide: the problem of vacancies is not general, but is sector-based and the labor market is not agile, there is a mismatch between the needs of employers and candidates. “There’s no perfect solution when you make an offer and the right candidate responds immediately, a phenomenon we call labor market friction,” Gaertner said. In addition, say these experts, there is a problem of adequate and continuous training, in particular professional retraining of those who lose a job that is no longer in demand on the market.

public administration

“Public administration is the sector most affected by this phenomenon, because hiring procedures are slow and rigidsaid Cruz. With 38,685 vacancies, it represents almost 29% of the total number of unfilled jobs, according to data for the first quarter of 2022 from INE.

Trade, according to the same figures, is in second place. In this case, he says, “the biggest problem is linked to seasonal jobs where wages are low and the cost of housing very high”. A good example of this are vendors located in tourist locations like the Balearic Islands. “That’s what’s happening in the case of the hospitality industry,” says Gaertner of CCOO. The working conditions, he adds, “are very bad and the housing market prices for the season are unaffordable”.

Even though the hostelry Not understood Among the sectors of activity most affected by these vacancies, the INE data only describes the situation that prevailed at the beginning of the year when 6,949 workers were needed, and not with regard to the period holidays, where most job offers are concentrated. In this sense, Emilio Gallego, Secretary General of the Hospitality Employers of Spain, assures that of the 100,000 additional workers that the sector needs every summer, only half can be covered. Even so, Gallego says that the hospitality industry is not one of the sectors that suffers the most from staff shortages, but it is one of those that has increased visibility and suffers more during the summer period.

Fhigh recycling

The health activities and scientific and technical professionals They are respectively third and fourth. In the latter case, believes Cruz, what happens is that “we have a dysfunction of professional retraining and the unemployed cannot respond to more technical positions”. These are, he says by way of example, jobs related to the digital domainamong others.

Thus, “while in the case of low-skilled vacancies, poor working conditions and, in some sectors, associated factors (such as the price of rents) explain a large part of the difficulty in finding workers, when we talk about of highly qualified jobs, the problem is the lack of training, especially practical training”, summarizes the professor. “Companies preferred to hire from the outside rather than train the people they had inside and since there aren’t so many such profiles, now they can’t find workers,” says Gaertner. Despite everything, he considers that the government has promoted good initiatives. Measures such as the approval, at the end of March, of the new law reformulating vocational training which establishes a flexible modular offer, intended to ensure progressive and continuous training.

Appropriate and continuous training, but also mobility are key elements, according to Antonio Di Paolo, associate professor at the Department of Econometrics, Statistics and Applied Economics at the University of Barcelona (UB). To respond to vacancies, but above all, to resolve the problem of long-term unemployment (equal to or greater than 12 months), which affects half of the unemployed, “people must be given the ability to readapt to other sectors because “the unemployed generally do not look for work outside their area of ​​experience or in other parts of the country, which has not been sufficiently encouraged by the public administration”.

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