The lack of labor worsens and puts SMEs in serious trouble

The lack of labor worsens and puts SMEs in serious trouble

The Government denies time and again that there is a problem of lack of labor but SMEs, the true lung of the Spanish economy, made up of more than 98% of small and medium-sized companies, stand up, demand not to turn their backs on a "pressing problem" that is "getting worse" and is seriously hampering its productivity, putting its competitiveness and even its survival at risk. For this reason, the Cepyme employers' association urges the Executive to solve it by involving the different ministerial portfolios and, above all, to work on training.

"Our companies, our economy, cannot afford to stop growing because they cannot find the workers they need," denounced this Monday the president of Cepyme, Gerardo Cuerva, during the presentation of the report 'The challenge of vacancies in Spain'.

And this is precisely what happens to the Soriano construction company Hernando y Dueña, which has paralyzed part of its activity due to not finding qualified workers. Their manager, Mayte Hernando, lamented at the meeting that they have five machines stopped because they do not have personnel to handle them. «No matter how much we search, no one shows up, not even students in the summer. There aren't those types of workers," she explained. For this reason, they are processing to bring foreigners, although this process – she pointed out – takes time and will be delayed until December. "It can't be that it takes us nine months to get going," she protested.

The figures that the employers offered on this day are totally contrary to the official records, which are those published every quarter by the National Institute of Statistics (INE). 71% of SMEs have problems filling job vacancies, a mismatch that "is increasing" in the Spanish labor market, which also makes it more worrying and paradoxical given the high unemployment rate it has, more than 11% , the highest in Europe, and especially affects SMEs, which on too many occasions are forced to close due to the lack of relief, according to Cuerva. However, the INE highlighted last Friday that 93.5% of companies claim to have no vacancies because "they do not need additional workers", from which it follows that only 6.5% are unsuccessfully searching for labor.

Almost 150,000 vacancies, a record

The employers' association also questions the little more than 148,000 job vacancies detected by the INE and considers that the real figure is "visibly higher", but the vacancies are not detected because they are continually being created and disappearing in the face of the multitude of discouraged companies, " especially small and medium-sized companies", since having fewer resources can allocate them to a lesser extent to the active search for workers, which leads them to their offers declining more quickly or to declining the search for professionals directly due to their inability to have success in the process. What's more, precisely for this reason, despite the fact that more than 70% of SMEs claim a lack of labor, only 44% are looking for employees at this time, according to the report.

In any case, INE data also confirms that the number of vacancies is at historic highs, it has doubled in just six years, reaching for the first time in 2023 one job vacancy per 100 employees, a record.

Young people are needed

The aging of the population, the lack of young people (more than 38,000 have been lost each year since 2003), the depopulation of large areas of the country, the lack of training and the mismatch with demand, the "very poor effectiveness" of the Public Employment Service (SEPE) to place the unemployed and, in some cases, subsidies are some of the causes behind this shortage of workers that fully affects construction and technology, but which already extends to most sectors. and, furthermore, there is a lack of both qualified and unskilled labor.

And the consequences are important: it hinders both production and productivity, hinders the full use of capital goods, reduces the possibilities of generational change in family businesses, causes another obstacle to the growth of SMEs and even produces closures. of companies, loss of projects and a diaspora of the productive fabric from depopulated areas to the most dynamic ones, without this preventing vacancies from also occurring in the provinces with greater economic activity, as this study indicates.