Spain was one of the countries most affected by the coronavirus health crisis, which caused great damage to many nations. Because? Well, because hehe Spanish economy depends heavily on tourism and what is known as the horeca sector: hotels, restaurants and cafes. These businesses are the ones that employ many Spaniards, especially young people and those with less qualifications. But they are also the ones who suffered the most from the restrictions and confinement. These were very hard times for many who were left without income, without clients and without hope.
Now we ask ourselves: how are things going? Has employment been recovered? Has consumption been reactivated? Have we learned anything from this crisis? According to the latest data, there are reasons for optimism, but also for caution. The Spanish labor market is still very fragile and unequal, and it needs structural reforms to adapt to the post-pandemic world. I mean, It is already obvious that we cannot continue to depend only on the sun and the beach, but that the time has come to bet on innovation, training and diversification.
Now, how has employment changed three years after the pandemic? The coronavirus pandemic has meant a before and after for the labor market. What has changed in these three years?
Teleworking is a topic. Many companies have opted for remote work as a preventive and saving measure. Workers have had to adapt to new technologies, the lack of human contact and family reconciliation. Some see it as an advantage and others as a disadvantage.
Digitization has gained a great push. The health crisis accelerated the digital transformation of many sectors, which have had to renew themselves to survive. This has implied a greater demand for qualified profiles in areas such as computing, robotics or artificial intelligence.
The pandemic has made it necessary to make working conditions more flexible to deal with fluctuations in demand. This has meant an increase in temporary contracts, ERTEs and part-time jobs. It has also favored the emergence of new forms of work such as freelancing or the gig economy.
The crisis has affected different social groups unequally. The most vulnerable have been young people, women, immigrants and workers in sectors such as tourism, hospitality or commerce. These groups have suffered more unemployment, precariousness and poverty.
The pandemic also highlighted the need to update the skills and knowledge of workers to adapt to change. Continuous training has definitely become a key tool to improve employability and competitiveness.
According to the latest labor reports, the labor market in Spain has registered great improvement, despite quite high unemployment: Employment continues to hold up despite the difficulties. However, not all is good news: unemployment has also grown. How is this contradiction explained? Well, because there are more people looking for work: the active population has increased. This means that there are more people willing to work, but not all of them find a position.
Employment in Spain is in luck: historic figures for employment and affiliation have been reached. What is this miracle due to? Well, to several factors, such as mass vaccination, the reopening of businesses, summer tourism and European aid. What factors have contributed to this success?
The labor reform promoted, apparently, has managed to reduce temporary employment by prohibiting work and service contracts and creating the figure of the discontinuous permanent, a type of intermittent permanent that allows the worker to be sent home when the company does not need him, but without firing him.
In other words, The Spanish economy has experienced a strong rebound after the negative impact of the pandemic. The progress of vaccination, the lifting of restrictions and the arrival of European funds have boosted activity and business and consumer confidence.
According to the latest reports, The service sector has been the engine of employment, coinciding with the start of the tourist season and the reopening of the hotel and leisure industry. This sector has generated new affiliates, especially in hotels, commerce, and health and social activities.
The groups hardest hit by the crisis have also been the ones that have benefited the most from the improvement in employment. The number of affiliated women has grown more than that of men. The number of affiliated young people under 25 years of age has increased more than that of those over 25 years of age.
Permanent contracts have registered their greatest improvement in recent times, which represents a significant increase compared to a year ago. Temporary hiring has also grown, but at a slower rate. This indicates greater stability and confidence in the labor market, although there is still a high percentage of workers with precarious and short-term contracts.
However, despite what has been said, Spain continues to have a relatively high unemployment rate. Unfortunately, there is still a hard core of long-term unemployed who are unable to rejoin the labor market. Suddenly, these people need a push. They need more support and training to improve their skills and adapt to new job demands.
The Spanish labor market has experienced a roller coaster in the last three years. First, it suffered the impact of the pandemic, which caused massive job destruction, especially in the tourism and hospitality sectors. Then, it experienced a partial recovery, thanks to vaccination, reopening and European aid. But there is still a long way to go. And not only that, but you have to face new challenges.
The situation of the Spanish labor market makes us reflect on our personal situation, regardless of the country where we reside. Do we have a secure and quality job? Can we reconcile our work and family life? Do we have training and professional development opportunities? Are we prepared for the changes that are coming? These are some of the questions we should ask ourselves to improve our employability and well-being.
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