There is no 'Great resignation', but low wages and lack of training: Spain seeks to fill 109,000 vacant positions

In a country with more than three million unemployed people it may seem paradoxical that unfilled jobs are increasing. Some 109,000 vacant positions that are becoming deserted in the country with the highest unemployment rate in the EU, around 13.5%. Although the vacancy figures in Spain are much lower than those of many European neighbours, unemployment here is also considerably higher. Therefore, what is happening in Spain so that these positions are not filled? The Ministry of Labour, unions and employers have proposed to answer this question through a joint diagnosis. At the moment, they have cleared one reason from the equation: in Spain there is no extended 'Great Resignation' as in the US.

The terms 'Great Resignation' or 'Great Resignation' name the massive flight of employees in the United States from their jobs after the pandemic, which has brought the level of vacancies to record numbers. Each month of the second half of 2021, some four million workers left their jobsleaving dropout rates at their highest in the last 20 years, pew research center encrypts.

In Spain, there is an increase in vacancies, but the situation is not comparable to the United States. There is currently no mass flight of employees, but something much "more focused", the Ministry of Labor, the unions and the majority employers agreed this Monday after holding a specific meeting on the increase in unfilled positions. "There is no Great Resignation", employer sources summarize this medium.

In Spain, the vacancy figure is around 109,000 positions, somewhat below 1%, while the EU average stands at "2.5%" and "3.8%" in Germany, highlighted the Second Vice President and Minister of Labor, Yolanda Díaz.

According to the latest data from the INE, the activities with the most unfilled positions are in the public sector, among which 31,521 vacancies stand out in "Public Administration and defence; Compulsory Social Security" and 12,903 positions in "Health and social service activities". The second activity with the most vacancies is "Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles", with 13,480 vacancies.

While waiting for the complete diagnosis, the Secretary of State for Employment, Joaquín Pérez Rey, appeared before the media on Monday and has advanced some of the causes that already account for the shortage of workers in some activities. If the Great Renunciation or the Great Abandonment of the USA does not fit in the Spanish context, it does President Joe Biden's famous "pay them more"according to Labor and unions.

"In the Ministry of Labor we are absolutely convinced that these problems, concrete and focused, have to do above all with the fact that they are not being paid, there are not the necessary conditions for workers to access these positions, fundamentally in the hospitality industry", Joaquín Pérez Rey has warned.

The union leaders, Mari Cruz Vicente (CCOO) and Mariano Hoya (UGT), have agreed that low wages are one of the causes of the shortage of personnel in some activities, such as hospitality and commerce. Especially in urban and tourist areas where housing and other living costs are high.

In these territories, there are wages that are not enough to make ends meet, or to rent a flat, indicate the workers' representatives. And sometimes the problem lies not only in low pay, but also in the low intensity of work of the positions offered, with a lot of temporary contract and part-time work that does not ensure a "decent salary" per month.

"It cannot be that in the hospitality industry in a coastal area, workers cannot pay for their housing, cannot reconcile their family life, do not have the right to breaks," warned Yolanda Díaz's 'number two' at the Ministry of Labor. "This breeding ground for poor working conditions, or conditions that are not attractive enough, means that we are in the presence of these specific problems", Joaquín Pérez Rey has assessed.

In any case, although the complaints about the lack of waiters are very present in the media and from Labor they have directly pointed to the hospitality industry, the unfilled positions in the sector only represent a small proportion of the vacancies reported by the INE . "Only 4%", has encrypted Joaquín Pérez Rey.

The problem of vacancies also lies in a second very important reason: the lack of trained candidates for certain positions. It is the second cause already detected by the social agents and the Ministry of Labor, in which the employers place the most emphasis. Employers warn that there are positions for which they do not find qualified personnel in Spain and demand that training in these fields be promoted.

The social agents and the Ministry of Labor have proposed to detect these specific positions that face a qualification deficit, although those of the STEM disciplines already stand out, marked by the constant renewal of new technologies and digitization. "Posts of more technical complexity, in computing, cloud computing, systems analysis, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, cybersecurity and blockchain," said the Secretary of State for Employment, by way of example.

Construction is another sector where a large personnel deficit is expected in the coming years, of about 700,000 workersand which combines both new training needs and a lack of attraction of personnel with less qualification requirements.

Labor will meet again with the social agents "in two weeks", Joaquín Pérez Rey has announced, with the aim of closing the diagnosis on the causes of the vacancies as soon as possible and to discuss the measures to fill these positions. The social agents have a large sectoral and territorial deployment, in which they rely on the Ministry to detect unfilled employment sources and to be able to detect specific territorial needs.

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