What’s it like to work in Spain?
February 19, 2024 | by Admin
Are you thinking of working in Spain? In the video below I talk about some of the main topics related to working in this country.
I have been working in Spain for the last 20 years teaching English. If you want to know what that’s like, check out this blog post.
Spain’s Job Market
The job market here in Spain is pretty bad. Basically, there are not many jobs and to get a good job you have to be very good at what you do, have a little luck, and have a good network of contacts that can open doors for you.
If you think I’m joking, check out this article. It’s in Spanish but the headline translates to “The Disgraceful Spanish Job Market”.
No need to say a lot more. Here’s an article in English if you are still not convinced.
The problem is that Spain has a two-tier labour market which means that about 30% have jobs with excellent conditions and salaries while the rest have little job security and go from temporary contract to temporary contract.
This creates a very volatile labour market where people can lose there jobs as soon as the economy goes bad, which has been known to happen here in Spain.
The last recession lasted a long time so always keep it in mind.
Spain’s Unemployment Rate
Spain’s unemployment rate hit a peak of nearly 27% in 2013 and youth unemployment was a whopping 55%.
Those figures would have caused a revolution in any other country but not in Spain.
In fact, the only change to the political system was a rise in support for anti-system political parties.
Millions of young people had to flee the country in search of work while those that decided to stay had to fight it out for crappy jobs with low salaries and poor conditions.
High unemployment is not new to Spain. Since 1980, the unemployment rate has hit 20% on three occasions.
If you are thinking of working in Spain, be prepared for the roller coaster ride.
Salaries in Spain
Salaries in Spain are not high. And since the crisis started back in 2008/9, they have been getting lower and lower.
This has been due to a process known as internal devaluation.
The country needed to become more competitive so labour costs had to be cut.
A monthly salary of €1000 was considered low before the crisis but if you are earning that amount in 2018, you can consider yourself lucky.
Even in the English language teaching sector salaries have either dropped or stagnated. There is still demand for teachers but we have to stretch our euros further.
Teaching English in Spain
Although not as good as it was back in the 2000s, you can still find a job fairly easily in the ELT sector in Spain. Companies still need to train their employees and families still want their kids to learn English.
And you can still earn a decent salary if you are prepared to put in the hours.
Check out my video on the topic for a more detailed explanation.
However, with rising cost of living expenses in the big cities and falling salaries, make sure that Spain really is the country for you before deciding to come here.
Work-Life Balance in Spain
This article sums up the work-life balance argument pretty well. Spain is a great country to live in if you don’t have to depend on the job market.
Quality of life and work-life balance are pretty subjective things. I have managed to find a balance but it is not easy.
To find a balance you might have to work for yourself and control your time.
Keep in mind that Spain has a long-hours work culture. Many people, especially in companies, start early and finish late.
People work hard and play hard.
Big companies often pre-retire people in their fifties, so people probably see this as a trade-off. You work long hours with not much quality of life for 25-30 years and then you get to enjoy life from the age of 55.
This is a good option for many provided they are in good health and the kids are off their hands.
Many people are just happy to have a job and be able to live close to family. Whether they are happy or have a good work-life balance is secondary to that.
In any case, Spain is a country of diversity. It’s very hard to generalise.
My experience comes from living and working in Madrid, Spain’s biggest and most dynamic city.
I am sure that the balance is better in smaller cities but the downside is there are not usually as many jobs of offer.
What’s your opinion?