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WORKING IN SPAIN

EXPLAINED: Spain’s plans to recruit thousands of foreigners for construction and trade jobs 

Spain recently changed its migration laws to recruit more foreigners from overseas for industries with labour shortages, and its primary focus for 2023 is to hire carpenters, plumbers, electricians and other workers involved in construction.  

spain recruiting construction workers
Spain wants trade and construction workers with the skills needed to help with refurbishing and building to the latest energy efficient standards. Photo by Kat Wade/Getty Images/AFP

It may seem strange that a country with 12.7 percent unemployment is struggling to find workers for a number of sectors, from doctors to waiters, but this is indeed the case in Spain. 

READ MORE: The ‘Big Quit’ hits Spain despite high unemployment and huge job vacancies

Last August, the Spanish government amended its laws relating to the rights and freedoms of non-EU foreigners in the country, as a means of resolving the bureaucratic obstacles which often prevent Spain from using migrants to cover labour shortages.

The legislation changes are mainly aimed at addressing blue-collar work shortages, including those deemed high-skilled and low-skilled. 

Over the summer, the primary need was to find more waiters. Now the Spanish government is looking to find all manner of workers involved in the construction industry. 

The official list, although not published yet by the Spanish government, is reportedly made up of 31 different occupations including plumbers, foremen, welders, electricians, plasterers, waterproofing installers, bricklayers and forklift operators.

READ MORE: How it’s now easier for non-EU foreigners to work in Spain

Up until now, the only way for third-country nationals to be hired from overseas for a contract job was if employers could not find an EU candidate for the position or if the job was on Spain’s shortage occupation list.

Since 2008, this has been made up almost entirely of jobs in the maritime and shipping industry, but Spanish authorities have now realised that there are many industries that are central to Spain’s economy that are struggling to find workers.

The recruitment plan, spearheaded by Spain’s Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, also stems from the need to cover jobs that comply with the country’s Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan, which the EU is funding with billions of euros through its Next Generation scheme.

spain construction trade jobs

Some construction associations are calling for young Spaniards to be encouraged to learn a trade, but Spain’s construction industry needs highly skilled and experienced workers as soon as possible. (Photo by NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP)

That means finding trade and construction workers with the skills needed to help with refurbishing and building to the latest energy efficiency standards.

According to leading Spanish daily El País, ministry figures point to as many as 246,000 new jobs being up for grabs. The minimum number of craftsmen and other construction workers needed to cover the shortages is 62,000, Spain’s Ministry of Migration reports.

It has not yet been announced how the recruitment process will be carried out. 

The measure doesn’t have the support of Spain’s main trade unions, who criticised that the skills shortage list had been amended “unilaterally and without negotiation”, and even Spain’s Labour Ministry has not given the changes their seal of approval. 

CCOO and UGT union representatives are also sceptical about bringing over workers from overseas for industries which are known for their job instability and sometimes low pay. 

Up to 3.8 million construction jobs were lost when Spain’s property bubble burst in 2008. 

The industry has gradually recovered since then and has around half the workforce as it did back then, but there is still a shortage of workers in specific high-skilled fields and there are currently 42,200 foreign construction workers who are now unemployed in Spain.

Spain also needs to resolve the huge bureaucratic backlogs which are preventing thousands of foreign doctors, engineers, nurses and other skilled workers in regulated professions from working for years, even though the country has serious shortages in those fields as well.

If you are a non-EU national with qualifications and/or experience in a trade or construction job that the Spanish government is looking for, make sure to visit our Working in Spain page to familiarise yourself with salaries, tax and other aspects of having a job in Spain. 

Keep in mind that the majority of foreigners who move to Spain from Europe, North America or Australia do so to enjoy the benefits of the Spanish quality of life, whilst career prospects and jobs are renowned for not being as abundant and well-paid as in other neighbouring countries. 

READ ALSO: The downsides of moving to Spain for work

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WORKING IN SPAIN

Your questions answered about Spain’s digital nomad visa

Spain's long-awaited digital nomad visa is finally available, but there is still much confusion about it, so we've answered all your burning questions.

Your questions answered about Spain's digital nomad visa

Spain’s Startups Law, which also introduced a new digital nomad visa, was approved at the end of 2022, but didn’t come into force until January 2023 and all the details are only just now being revealed. 

From how much money you need to your tax obligations and if you can bring family, members, here are all your questions answered. 

What are the financial requirements to apply for the visa?

You must prove that you earn 200 percent of the SMI or Minimum Interprofessional Salary. The current minimum wage in Spain is €1,000 per month (across 14 payments) or €1,166.67 across 12 payments.

Keep in mind though that the minimum wage is currently being re-evaluated and is likely to go up to €1,082 (across 14 payments) per month in the near future.

This means that currently, you must be able to show that you will have an income of at least €2,333.34 per month or €28,000 per year, but it is likely this will increase. You can prove this amount either with job contracts, invoices or bank statements.

Can I bring family members with me on the visa?

Yes, you are permitted to bring partners and children with you to Spain on the digital nomad visa.

In order to add a family member, however, you must prove that you have an extra 75 percent of the SMI or minimum wage. This currently equates to an extra €875. For each additional family member after this, such as children, you will have to prove you have an extra 25 percent of the SMI, currently €291.66.

READ ALSO: Ten of the best cities for digital nomads to move to in Spain

Do I need private health care?

You must also make sure that you have either private or public health insurance, simply getting travel insurance with health coverage is not enough.

The Spanish government mentions the option of getting public health insurance instead of private cover, but it is not yet clear whether this means that you will have to contribute to the social security system or be eligible for the convenio especial – the public pay-in scheme.

Do I have to have any professional qualifications? 

You must prove that you either have professional qualifications or a degree relating to your job or that you have at least 3 years’ experience working in your field. 

How long is the visa valid for?

The visa will be valid for an initial period of one year, however, it can be renewed for up to five years. After that, if you want to continue living in Spain, you will be able to apply for permanent residency.

Does the visa give me access to travel around the EU?

Yes, once you have your visa and you’re in Spain, you will be able to apply for a residency card. This will allow you to travel throughout the EU during the time that you’re living in Spain.

Keep in mind though, it won’t give you the right to work or live in other EU countries, but you will be able to go for short breaks. 

How long do I have to stay in Spain for the visa to be valid?

Many digital nomads choose to split their time between different countries. If this is your case, and you want to split your time between back home in the US or the UK for example, you must make sure you stay in Spain for a maximum of 6 months per year for your visa to remain valid.

Do I have to pay tax in Spain?

Yes. If you stay longer than 183 days, then you will be considered a tax resident in Spain. This means that any money you earn while working in Spain, even if it comes from clients or companies abroad will be taxable.

However, the digital nomad visa grants you tax benefits, such as being able to pay the Non-Residents Tax Rate (IRNR) rather than the regular progressive income tax (IRPF) that Spain’s resident workers pay.

Non-Resident Tax was previously only applicable to non-residents such as second-home owners, but an exception has been made for digital nomad visa holders even if they spend more than 183 days a year in Spain and are therefore technically fiscal residents.

IRNR is generally 24 percent in Spain but this will be reduced to 15 percent for digital nomads and remote workers, as long as you earn below €600,000 a year.

This favourable tax rate will be available for four years, if you choose to renew your visa. 

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