IT Outsourcing Services Cure Skill Shortage in Spain

Iva Kozlovskaya
Managing Partner

Being once a rich and prolific country, nowadays Spain faces lots of hurdles on its way to recovery. The process slows down because of high level of unemployment (2nd in Europe), and at the same time, skill shortage. The latter one makes desperate employers hire web developers and other tech specialists from outside of the country. Hays Global Skills Index for 2016 showed the negative tendency as Spain took the 4th place out in the list of countries with the highest labor market stress.

hays index 2016
Hays Global Skills Index 2016


This is a short story why one of our Spanish customer interested in IT outsourcing addressed us. He asked Qubit Labs find him a PHP developer in Ukraine as soon as possible. The client was in a rush, disappointed by the local candidates. Some of them lacked the necessary experience – IT labor market is full of newbies entering the industry because of the pursuit of money. The others were bad at design or third-party integration.

Is Spanish labor market so poor indeed? We decided to sift the question to a bottom, and research talent shortage in Spain.


Here and Now

All the forecasts and predictions are based on the analysis of the current situation. They might be right or wrong, but the things we observe now speak for themselves. Let’s open Glassdoor and see what specialists are in demand in a whole Spain. Out of 13 000 jobs offered there almost 1000 is IT-related – people want to hire iOS and Android developers, front-end and back-end specialists, app developers are also in demand. The figures don’t look impressive until you look for teacher or doctor – 20 and 6 respectively.
Google shows some more interesting facts – people in Spain are looking for “freelance web developer” and “hire programmer online”. Such keywords also prove the lack of local labor and growing demand for remote programmers.


What’s So Hard?

  1. Education system
  2. Vague requirements
  3. Brain drain
  4. Digitalization
  5. Visa issues

The pursuit of money keeps everything under control – when school leavers find out that front-end developers get high salaries, they rush to study front-end. Although when they graduate, the job market situation changes. And actually, they trigger this change by creating a surplus of front-enders, and consequently, talent shortage of other tech specialists. Education system appears to be unable to satisfy the needs of the local market.

IT industry needs people able to understand client’s requirements, set the tasks and manage programmers. These are not only skilled app and web developers, but also product managers, customer service managers, and big data experts,specialists dealing with code, analysis and service delivery. But the younger profession is (generally IT is relatively young industry), the harder is to define clear requirements to a prospect candidate.

In 2017, The United Nations estimates the 13 out of the 33 Hays Global Skills Index countries will experience “declines in their working age populations: the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Spain, China, Hong Kong and Japan. The issue is that in 2014 Spain lost a reasonable number of professionals as a result of the worst brain drain in Western Europe, with only a few of them coming back.

According to EU laws and regulations, industry-related business should bring a member country 20% of its GDP. In order to meet the target figure, Spain launched a program Connected Industry 4.0 aimed at reindustrializing of the Spanish economy. What impact will this course have at job market? Further increase of demand for engineers dealing with IoT, Internet as a service, and cyber security.
And the more Spanish economy will rely on technology, the bigger demand it’ll generate.

One more thing pointing at the talent shortage is visa facilitation regime. Spain ranks the 2nd in Europe for unemployment. So, it’s obvious that the authorities are interested in hiring Spanish citizens to tackle the issue. The previous law banned hiring foreigners immediately – an employer had to advertise a vacancy for 28 days before hiring a foreigner, but now employers are officially allowed to offer a job to a non-EU candidate if he/she fits the description.

Labor and Skill Shortage

The reports of the recent years forecast further labor shortage in Spain. European University Institute published a report with a gloomy prediction for Spanish employers – the market is going to lose 30 percent of young workers. And by the end of 2025 Spain would need more than 4 million of new workers. To be more precise, the country will lack programmers and developers (25-50 thousand jobs) and specialists in digital visual design and creativity (15-45 thousand jobs). Taking into account a rapid development of technologies, by 2025 more tech-related jobs will emerge.

What Can Be Done?

When you know the reasons of the problem, you can easily work out methods to solve it.The first issue we mentioned was weak education so the government has to provide more opportunities for Spanish citizens to cover the needs of the local labor market.
But business cannot wait for so long that’s why Spanish entrepreneurs has already started to improve the situation. IT skill shortage in Spain boosted interest in outsourcing. Spanish employers in need of experienced workers address to other countries, mainly Spanish-speaking America. For example, they hire PHP developers in Mexico, but by doing this they face two problems – difference in time zones and pretty low level of English. When employers want to save money, they look through Indian labor market, but what they actually get is poor communication because only a few Indians speak Spanish, and low quality of the product respectively. On the other hand, Spain started paying more attention to Eastern European labor market and hiring web developers there on a remote basis. Who knows, maybe exactly this method helped Spain to go down to the 7th place in Hays Index in 2017, and outsourcing is a cure to world-wide talent shortage?


skill shortage spain



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Iva Kozlovskaya
Managing Partner
Iva Kozlovskaya is a Managing Partner of Qubit Labs. Iva has been working in operations, sales and project management from the beginning of her career path. Nowadays Iva runs her company that helps clients from the USA, Europe, and the Middle East to establish their development teams in Ukraine.