Construction employs 1.3 million people in Spain and despite the materials crisis or the slowdown in housing, it closed 2022 with more employed persons (+2.7%) and companies (+2.1%) than the last year. It does not seem that its pace is going to slow down this year, when a real use of European funds is expected, which will take brick to a new level, associated with the rehabilitation of homes or the improvement of energy efficiency in buildings. But the companies in the sector have found themselves with a difficult problem to solve: lack of personnel.
The National Construction Confederation (CNC), which acts as an employer, has been requesting a crash plan for some time that facilitates the access of certain groups to its labor market, including women (today they are 11% of the total number of employees), young people or unemployed people who want to retrain their profession. And in this attraction plan they aspire to repeat a formula that was already used in the other great bullish cycle of works (2000-2008): the labor insertion of immigrants. According to his figures, the shortage of workers for the work is around half a million.
five ministries involved
The problem lies in the formula that is set to facilitate this access, which the Government discussed in its day but which has been forgotten in a drawer for a long time. While the union organizations propose to regularize irregular migrants who already reside in Spain, other voices advocate facilitating the arrival of qualified personnel from their countries of origin. The first depends exclusively on the Ministry of Labor, in the hands of Yolanda Díaz, while the second requires José Luis Escrivá, Minister of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, who holds the powers in this regard.
But the complaints of the sector do not reach these cabinets, but the Ministry of Transport, which holds the powers of housing and executes the large infrastructures. And to curl the loop, they also involve Education, in charge of designing all the part related to the qualification and professional training of these workers, with which they would receive their residence permits. Nor should we forget the Ministry of the Interior, which must validate foreigners arriving in Spain.
For this reason, the Government abandoned the debate and its possible solutions to updating the catalog of difficult-to-cover occupations (CODC), a tool with which the Government facilitates authorizations for companies from certain places and sectors to meet workers, who otherwise In this way they can legally reside and work in Spain.
From the Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migrations they assure that this matter is being addressed “normally”, but that there are no news at the moment. Work argued that it was not a general problem of vacancies, but that the facts were limited to certain territories or sectors.
6,820 million European funds at stake
Another department of Raquel Sánchez, together with Transición Ecológica are in charge of distributing 6,820 million funds
The calculation of the Government set at 188,300 direct jobs the contribution of European funds to the Spanish economy only in rehabilitation. To these we must add another 100,000 workers who today are over 60 years old and who will gradually retire, which creates a bigger hole. Most of them work on site in the construction of buildings and in functions such as masons, stonemasons, laborers or stone engravers, intensive jobs that also require prior training.
While the great public work continues its course supported by the PGE and does not suffer from a lack of workers because they relocate their own employees in those most outstanding works, it is the small companies and works, which descend on premises, homes or neighboring communities, those that went up were limited by the lack of personnel. Some of the tasks that are requiring hands are the installation of photovoltaic panels or the execution of enclosures, actions where the weight of SMEs is greater and their labor is much more intensive.
“We ask that they come to an agreement because there is a very important intensity of work,” they comment from the CNC, which ensures that the need for personnel is “urgent.” Its training arm, the Fundación Laboral de la Construcción, claims to have the capacity to teach a total of 200,000 workers a year: “the sector has the tools and the capacity to do it, but political will is needed,” he concludes.