Oct 162010


So, the registered jobless total in Spain is over the 4 million mark (4.02m)!  Indeed, over 20% of the Spanish working population is now unemployed, which is over twice the Eurozone average.

This is dreadful news and heralds an increasingly hard time for anyone working in Spain conventionally.  Indeed, the outlook for the Spanish economy looks nothing if not gloomy – despite the Spanish government trying to ‘spin’ the reality to make it look better.  How they can do this escapes me as, shortly, austerity measures are going to come into play and further restrict government spending and thereby further increase unemployment.

Of course, no-one should be surprised at the poor prospects for economic recovery in Spain.  This is because the country faces a huge structural problem – namely how to replace the economic value of the ‘deceased’ Spanish construction industry.

In fact, I suspect, that Spain’s economic prospects could be crudely distilled to the question of: what has Spain got (or can develop quickly) to replace the wealth generation of its defunct construction industry?

This may seem an odd way of putting things but the Spanish construction industry accounted for something like 18% of GDP at the height of the boom, according to Spanish government figures.  In reality, I suspect that it was more like 30% of GDP, if its full impact was taken into account.  So, it was a major part of the Spanish economy and drove the economic miracle of Spain.

Of course, it is not ‘rocket science’ to realise, when there is a hole in the GDP of well over 18%, that it needs ‘filling’ – before any meaningful economic improvement can occur.

This may be a very simplistic way of looking at the economic prospects of Spain and offend professional economists.  However, the professional economists got the ‘boom and bust’ of Spain appallingly wrong (together with the world credit crunch!) and I am sure that looking at basic fundamentals is what really counts.  This, I fear, is no more than just the application of plain common-sense.

Certainly, I am unaware of anything ‘new’ that is occurring in Spain to replace the huge past value of its construction industry which, it is universally acknowledged, will be in the doldrums for years to come.  Until ‘something’ does, the future for the economy in Spain, frankly, looks dire.

What does this all mean – if you want to work in Spain?

Well, many of the ‘old certainties’ of easy money have gone and you should be under no illusions that you will be entering a tough marketplace if you move to Spain.  That does not mean that you cannot work in Spain or that there are no possibilities.  That would be the wrong impression.

However, as I write in my new book, you need to know the ‘cold’ truth and then be much cleverer than before to target and exploit precise niches.  These certainly do exist and I am a great believer in the cliche that states: ‘where there are problems – so also are there opportunities.  This is never more so the case than when a country has long term economic problems.  You just need to know where the opportunities are – or how to operate laterally within a troubled economy!

If you are well prepared you can work in Spain and earn a living here but be under no illusions about the Spanish economy revitalising fast – regardless of what, in the short tem, you read or hear elsewhere…


The Secrets to Working and Making a Living in Spain

(80,000 words, 327 pages, 26 sections and 9 expert contributors – e-book 14.96 euros)

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