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The outlook for the Spanish economy in 2014 is more optimistic, following positive export figures, improved foreign investment, and a timid GDP growth rate of +0.1% during the third quarter of 2013 which signalled the end of the recession. Although slow and weak, the recovery has begun.
Many staffing firms agree that there are green shoots in the Spanish labour market. The Spanish association representing private employment agencies, Asempleo, predicts a fragile return to growth in January.
According to Andreu Cruañas, President of Asempleo: "It will be the year in which employment starts to pick up, but companies will have to wait and do their homework well to revive the labour market… The export-oriented sectors will generate more opportunities. In the third quarter of 2013, agriculture, mining and quarrying, manufacturing, the service sector, and financial services saw their employment figures rise at a faster pace than the rest".
According to Mr Cruañas, candidates with IT expertise will be in high demand: "SEM or SEO specialists, web analysts, legal experts on the Internet, developers of e-commerce platforms, business developers for foreign markets, bilingual or trilingual office manager, engineers, and managers; in addition to workers in the fields of agriculture, hospitality, and tourism."
Noelia Lucas, Commercial Director of Hays, added: "There is clear demand in the automotive sector in Spain. And in computing, developers and anything that has to do with data management, especially project managers with English and German, quality managers, production managers and engineers in research and development will be in high demand. Despite 26% unemployment rate, the Spanish market is looking for talent, especially specialised profiles, and experience will be valued more than training."
Permanent recruitment has fallen dramatically in the last five years, as reflected by data from the Public Employment Services (Sepe) and the Labour Force Survey (LFS). According to recent figures from Asempleo, the uptick in recruitment in the last few months was almost exclusively driven by temporary contracts.
According to Javier Millán-Astray Director of Anged, the Association of Large Distribution Companies, in a recent interview on TVE, consumption is key to employment and connects directly to trade: "Signs of change [have been an] observed trend in consumption for several months, although we still see negative growth rates. Being reasonably optimistic this Christmas season will be better than last year.”
Mr Millán-Astray added that 12,000 people have been hired in the lead up to the festive season, representing a +5% increase compared to 2012. "The economic environment has improved and confidence indices are rising.”
The National Federation of Self-Employed (ATA) in its annual barometer reported that 27.7% of self-employed people hired staff in 2013 and 26.4% were planning to do so in 2014. In addition, 50.2% believe they will not reduce staff next year.
Lorenzo Amor, President of the ATA, explained: "Between 2008 and 2012 as many as 80 jobs per day were destroyed, according to our members. The situations has reversed in 2013. There were more than 65,000 jobs created and we expect a growth of +1% for 2013. A lot of it is beneficial to youth employment and entrepreneurship as more than half of the new self-employed workers are under 30."
The sectors showing slight improvement are tourism, industries ancillary to new technologies, services to people; such as child care, and caring for the elderly, veterinary medicine, and education. Mr Amor also added that the textile industry can give a strong boost in 2014.
A prediction shared by Manuel Garcia-Izquierdo, President of the Spanish Confederation of Commerce, who added: "Electronic commerce is creating new opportunities for businesses and this will generate recruitment. Our forecasts are being met, and we are confident [that we are] at a turning point where the recovery begins.”