In the space of ten years (1996-2006), the immigrant population of Spain has jumped from 1.37% to 8.75% of its total population, and 10.4% of the country’s total employed population. Within the same time frame, many Spanish jobs have been created, but unemployment remains relatively high at 10.4%.
Construction and agriculture, personal services, and hotels and restaurants are the sectors that have the most number of hard to fill vacancies. Most foreign workers are, understandably, concentrated in these areas. Spanish employers prefer to hire either Spanish nationals or expatriates fluent in the Spanish language
Moving to Spain
First, make sure you can get by in simple conversational Spanish before you leave for the country. Once you’re in Spain, you will find it easier to enrich your vocabulary and polish your grammar. Resist the temptation to hang out only with English speaking friends, or you may never achieve any degree of fluency, and that will hamper you greatly in getting the job you want.
Second, make sure that there’s a job awaiting and that your salary and benefits will enable you to afford the basics – food, rent, utilities, education if you have children, clothing, and insurance. Otherwise you should bring enough money to live on while you’re still job hunting. This is especially true if you are not from a EU member state.
In general, you can live a bit more cheaply in Spain than in France, Germany, the UK and the US. A family of four with a modest lifestyle needs about 1,400 euros (US$1,900) a month. If you have to find your own house or apartment, you can arrange for temporary housing and look for better accommodations when you arrive. This will allow you enough time to look around and find a nice but affordable place in a safe neighborhood. It is probably best to opt for a community where there are many expatriates as this can smooth your adjustment to living in Spain.
Typical Job Prospects in Spain
A good knowledge of Spanish is a must for foreign workers. Jobs can usually be found in hotels and restaurants, personal services, construction and agriculture. There are job openings for English speaking employees in the field of real estate, in companies that have to deal with English-speaking counterparts and clients, in English newspapers and other media that use English, and as English teachers or tutors, as long as you have the proper qualifications (TEFL). There are jobs in the coastal areas but these are usually seasonal in nature.
Typical Salaries and Benefits in Spain
You should be aware that in Spain, your pay will be lower and you will work longer hours than Spanish nationals. You will also do more overtime work, and work at night and during weekends more often than your Spanish counterparts. Working hours usually compute at 41 hours per week (no OT).
Almost 66% of foreign workers earn less than 1,205 euros a month. Foreign workers are also more likely to do physical labor and suffer more accidents (8.4 accidents per 100,000 foreign workers vs. 6.3. accidents per 100,000 Spanish workers). Foreign workers are more likely to enter Spain on the basis of temporary contracts, and are usually employed in sectors with bad working conditions (construction, agriculture, restaurants, and domestic help). Almost a third of foreign workers are overqualified education wise for their jobs.
Basic Data on Taxes in Spain
In 2006, Spanish income tax rates varied from 15% to 45%. If an expat has spent 183+ days in the country within the tax year, he or she is considered a tax resident. An expat tax resident has to pay taxes on global income, regardless of what residence or work permit he or she carries. The global income includes retirement pensions. Half of your net rental income is taxable. Net rental income refers to the amount of rent due after deducting costs such as local taxes, repairs, and depreciation. An expat who is a Spanish resident or who owns property has to get an alien identification number, which the expat uses when he or she pays taxes
High Demand Jobs in Spain
As mentioned earlier, the hardest jobs to fill are in the personal services, agriculture, construction, and restaurant sectors. However, we have also seen that wages and working conditions are below par in the same sectors, resulting in a high degree of labor dissatisfaction. Southern Spain offers mostly agriculture and tourism related jobs. Employment for professionals exists mostly in Northern Spain. A good knowledge of Spanish is vital if you want to find a job.
Immigration and Visa issues in Spain
Foreigners who want to work in Spain as an employee or to engage in a business have to apply for a Work and Residence Permit. If you are going to work as an employee, you have to apply for a Type B permit (a specific area or activity) or a Type C permit (any activity and any area). If the work is temporary in nature, you have to get either a Type A or Type T permit. The prospective employer or employee himself or herself can apply for the permits. You need a residence permit if you are going to live permanently in Spain.
A temporary residence permit allows you to stay in Spain from 90 days to five years. A permanent resident permit is given to foreigners who have lived in the country for five years continuously. Some foreigners are exempted from having to get a residence permit. For instance, those married to Spanish citizens and those who come from war-torn countries are exempted.
Best Job Locations in Spain
The Costa del Sol in Malaga and the Costa Blanca in Alicante are the best bets for expatriates trying to find jobs. Large numbers of expatriates drawn by the sea-sun-and-sand lifestyle reside in these coastal areas where there are a lot of seasonal jobs available.
Job Finding through Websites in Spain
The Eures network is a good and reliable source of information on finding gainful employment in Spain (www.europa.eu.int/eures). It contains data from 29 countries and was established by the European Commission. The Spanish Public Employment Service (www.inem.es) also provides information and training. Temporary employment agencies are valuable tools for finding jobs. ETT’s charge a commission based on the employee’s salary. These agencies tend to offer vacancies in jobs that do not require higher education such as waiters, cooks, salespeople, secretaries, domestic employees, etc. The Ministry of Employment and Social Affairs offers a list of all Temporary Employment Agencies throughout Spain. They are also listed in the Yellow Pages.