Escrivá finalizes a reform to cover the lack of personnel with foreign workers

Moroccan women work as seasonal workers harvesting strawberries in Lepe, Huelva. / afp

The text, debated between different Ministries, will allow irregular immigrants to obtain permits if they are trained in jobs for which labor is needed

Clara Dawn

Whether due to low wages or the lack of professionalization that is needed in some sectors, the lack of labor has become one of the serious problems of the labor market in Spain. In the midst of a debate on how to deal with this risk, the Ministry of Social Security confirmed this Friday that it is working on modifications to the Immigration Law to speed up the regularization of immigrants who fill vacancies in sectors such as hospitality or construction.

This was explained by the minister of the branch, José Luis Escrivá, during the balance of the first six months of the reform of the Immigration regulation that came into force in October 2021. «There are many aspects of the regulation that can be improved, but we are still in the process of interaction within the collegiate bodies of the Government”, stated Éscrivá during his speech.

That is, the possible modifications will not be immediate. Ministry sources confirm that the draft aims to reform some current measures and create new figures. They remember that there was already a "commitment from the beginning of the legislature" for this. "Our current regulations are not flexible enough to respond to the bottlenecks that occur in the labor market and generate highly bureaucratic and complex procedures," they say.

Although the draft is in a very initial phase of the regulatory procedure, among the ideas that the Executive is considering is that of regularizing migrants who are trained in those sectors in which there is a lack of labor, as well as allowing international students to work to favor that, once their training is finished, they can remain in Spain.

The economic impact through training would be practically immediate. According to a recent ICEX study, a total of 1,044,898 international students enrolled in Spanish institutions in the 2018-2019 academic year (latest available data, before the pandemic). "We determined that its global economic impact on the Spanish economy amounts to 3,795,740,732 euros and that the multiplier effect of student spending is 2.27," they indicate from the institution. In other words, for every euro spent on their academic program, these international students spent an additional 1.27 euros across a wide range of sectors of the Spanish economy.

More changes

In the same way, and as 'El País' advanced this Friday, the decree prepared by the Government also provides for changes in the types of roots if the minimum vital income is received for a year or if a legal work activity of at least six is ​​accredited. months for foreigners who have been in Spain for two years.

It is also intended to modify the model of contracting at origin, which now only allows hiring when profiles are not found within the so-called Catalog of Occupations with Difficult Coverage, limited to very few professions such as professional athletes and trainers, ship cooks and waiters, ship firefighters or naval frigorists.

Another idea is to extend the 'temporary' model to other sectors such as construction, but improving their conditions to prevent them from staying irregularly in the country after finishing their work. The Executive works with the possibility of offering, among others, four-year permits instead of seasonal ones and, if the worker returns to his country at the end of his contract period, he could renew for another four.

In the same way, the Executive opens the door so that workers who report irregular jobs can be rewarded with the permit without the need to prove a minimum stay in Spain.

Social Security has also taken advantage of the recent reform of the regulation to favor the incorporation of young people under guardianship into the labor market. Specifically, and in just six months of life of the norm, four out of five already have authorization to work being agriculture, but also hospitality, manufacturing and construction, the most benefited sectors.

more affiliates

Institutions such as the Bank of Spain have been warning for months that the reactivation of the labor supply registered after the pandemic "has been limited to national workers." In fact, as indicated by the supervisor in a recent report, "migratory flows abroad are showing a considerably slower recovery, with which a notable gap has been opened with respect to the pre-crisis trend".

Something that has had an impact, above all, on the shortage of labor "indicated more frequently as a limiting factor of economic activity in branches characterized by a greater weight of foreign employment, such as hospitality and construction."

It is true that immigrants already working in Spain have continued to increase in recent months, reaching a maximum of 2.426 million affiliates in May. But in Spain there are no official figures on the number of foreigners in an irregular situation.

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