Spain launches plan to woo workers who left during crisis

Spain's Socialist cabinet on Friday approved a plan to persuade some of the roughly one million workers who left the country during its 2008-2013 economic slump to return home.

Spain launches plan to woo workers who left during crisis
Photo: kesto/Depositphotos

Among the 50 measures included in the two-year plan are scholarships and grants for scientific researchers and lower social security payments for selected workers, the government said in a statement after cabinet approved the programme.

The plan also calls for the creation of an online search engine for job opportunities in Spain and a web-site which will make it easier to complete the bureaucracy related to moving back to the country.

The plan will cost €24.2 million  ($27.5 million) and the government hopes it will lead 23,000 Spanish workers to move back to Spain, government spokeswoman Isabel Celaa told a news conference.

“These people left, with their talent and training which Spain gave them, most of them seeking opportunities that they could not find in their own country,” she added.

The number of Spaniards registered as living abroad jumped by around one million since 2009, according to government figures, as unemployment soared in Spain due to a steep recession sparked by the global financial crisis.   

The majority were young doctors, engineers, scientists and other skilled workers. While the government plan “mainly” focuses on skilled workers, it could also allow people with “other profiles” to return, Celaa said.

The government, which is facing an early general election on April 28th, first announced in November that it would introduce the plan.   

Over 2.5 million Spaniards live abroad, according to government statistics.

The majority, 1.5 million, are in the Americas, mainly in the country's former colonies in South America, with another 900,000 in Europe.

READ ALSO: UK bids adios to Spanish nurses 'betrayed' by Brexit

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Ten business ideas that could work in Spain (Part II)

Spain's Startups Law is now in force, so if you're thinking about moving to Spain and starting up a business, here are ten niche ideas that have been successful abroad, but are still fairly new in Spain.

Ten business ideas that could work in Spain (Part II)

Back in November 2022, we published a list of nine bright business ideas that haven’t been exploited yet in Spain and now we’ve come up with 10 more to give those of you thinking of creating a startup here, lots of inspiration. 

Spain’s new Startups Law has many enticing perks and reduced tax rates for foreign digital nomads, entrepreneurs, investors and remote workers who want to start a business or work in Spain.

READ ALSO – New details: Spain’s rules and benefits for foreign startups

Networks against food waste

Food waste is a big issue in our society and lots of perfectly good food gets thrown out every day because it’s past its sell-by date. Companies like Too Good To Go have already started tackling this issue here in Spain, but there is still room for many more. The idea is to ​​create a sustainable business model that has a network of shops that can avoid throwing away perishable products by connecting them with customers who want discounted products that they have to consume quickly. 

DIY decoration stores

There are of course stores in Spain such as Leroy Merlin and Bricorama that sell everything you need for your home DIY projects, but what about a simpler type of shop that focuses just on décor instead of all the tools and technical parts that professionals use too?

In France, there are several chains of shops such as 4murs and Saint Maclou that do exactly this. They are solely dedicated to the decoration of walls and floors and sell items such as paints, tiles, wallpaper, rugs and curtains, items that the everyday person can use.

Machines to re-charge mobile phones and sell accessories

We’ve all been in that situation where we are out and our battery is really low and we’re scared of using our mobiles in case we run out of power and then we’re stuck, unable to contact anyone or even use Google Maps and find out where to go. While there are occasionally places to recharge your phones in airports or shopping malls in the larger Spanish cities, dedicated mobile charging stations could be the next great business idea.

In China, this is already a successful startup and now mobile charging vending machines can be found all over. They also allow customers to buy batteries, cables, headphones and chargers, something which some of the vending machines in Barcelona metro stations already do.

READ ALSO: Buying a franchise in Spain – the cheapest and best businesses to set up

A business that will look after the needs of your car

Busy car owners these days may not have the time to take care of their cars and carry out all the necessary cleaning and repairs. Here’s where your business could come in, offering a range of services from simple tasks like washing or something a little more complicated such as taking your car to the garage to pass its ITV (MOT) test.  An example of this is Cafler, which has been dubbed the Glovo of the automotive sector.

A one-stop shop for all car services for the busy professional could be a successful idea. Photo: Dariusz Sankowski / Pixabay

Services for the over 65s

Spain has an aging population and experts predict that by 2035, in just 14 years, around one in four (26 percent) of Spaniards will be 65 or older. This opens the door for many types of businesses directly serving this age group. Examples of this are startups such as Viejenials, a company that is committed to alternative aging through modern dance for people over 50 or Sasoibide, a company that takes older people on nature walks to help combat loneliness.

Services to help students move abroad

Many Spanish students dream of moving abroad temporarily to help improve their English language skills, but an international move and all it entails can be quite a difficult and daunting task. As a foreigner, you could be in a great position to be able to market and organise relocation services and language packages in English-speaking countries such as the UK, US or even Australia.

Companies such as YouTOOProject have already been successful at helping to solve problems that arise during students’ stays in their new countries.

Rent a butler  

Butlers may just be for the upper classes you think, or only if you lived in the past, such as during the time of Downton Abbey, but renting a butler for events or parties is becoming more and more popular. ByMayordomos is web portal that offers people the possibility of having a specialised butler at short notice, but there are lots of possibilities for more companies to do something similar.

A business to rent a butler could take off in Spain. Photo: Vic Padilla / Pixabay

Services for the self-employed and small businesses

Spain has around 3.3 million self-employed people or autónomos, which accounts for 16 percent of the population. This means that there’s plenty of scope to set up businesses aimed at this sector. There are plenty of gestores (similar to accountants) helping freelancers with their taxes, but there are lots of other services that could be offered such as consulting services, and helping people digitise their businesses by creating website, design or software.

Sustainable packaging companies

In January 2023, a new tax came into force in Spain on the use of non-reusable plastic packaging, and companies, particularly food manufacturers, as well as others, are desperately looking for ways to make their packaging more sustainable.

More and more entrepreneurs are betting on zero-waste business models and are looking for everything from boxes and labels to protective packaging to be sustainable and plastic free. Creating these types of solutions for other businesses could be a profitable idea.

At-home cooking classes

Most people sign up for a cooking class or school if they want to be taught by the professionals, but what about chefs who can go directly to your door? It could be a novel idea for parties or even as gifts for foodies.

As a foreigner, you could think up ideas that might not already be available here, such as sushi-making classes or learning how to make Mexican tortillas from scratch. It could focus on vegan cuisine, gluten-free cooking or even private classes for children or beginners. One company – Summumm, in Madrid has already made a success of similar services such as show-cooking at home too.