We live in times of conflict and conflicting mental frameworks, also in the field of migration. On the one hand, the world continues to deepen a trend that began in the second half of the 20th century: capital is cross-border, the lines between countries are porous and the world system is increasingly globalized. However, on the other hand, processes such as Brexit or the rise of extreme right-wing parties mark an opposite trend, that of the retreat of the nation-state towards its borders.

At this crossroads, the Spanish government has opted for the first path: that of greater openness to immigration. It has done so through the reform of the regulations that develop the Immigration Law, which will make it easier for foreigners - whether they are students, immigrants in Spanish territory, professionals abroad or seasonal workers - to obtain a residence permit that will allow them to live and work in the country.

So perhaps it is time for Spanish employers to start looking at the foreign labor market, which will now open its doors a little wider. There awaits a talent rarely explored by the national business fabric, but which offers diversity, muscle and gray matter to an increasingly aging workforce.

The reform of the Immigration Law regulation

There is no doubt that the new reform of the Immigration Law, carried out by José Luis Escrivá's Ministry of Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, will mark a turning point in the treatment of foreign talent. The changes it introduces are in four main areas.

  • The "arraigo por formación": is a way to fill jobs with low demand with foreign workers. Through this new system, any immigrant who has been in Spain for more than two years will be able to access a residence permit, valid for one year, in exchange for obtaining job training. The profession will be chosen by the beneficiary, but it will be easier for those in which there is a greater demand for workers.
  • Student population: it would not make sense to educate an extract of the population with resources in the country so that they can then apply that talent outside Spain. And that, precisely, is what this reform of the regulations of the Alien Law wants to avoid, by allowing any student who pursues a higher education, or a regulated training for employment or aimed at obtaining a certificate of professionalism, certificate of technical aptitude or professional qualification, can also work, on a regular basis, up to a maximum of 30 hours per week. In addition, upon completion of such higher education studies, the former student may enjoy an additional twelve months during his stay to find a job —provided he has previously completed undergraduate, graduate or master's degree studies—, or modify his authorization to a residence and work permit by submitting a job offer.
  • Contracting at origin: a common figure in the Spanish economy, such as seasonal workers, will also see its status modified. Following the reform, and inspired by a model already present in other European countries, the government will allow them access to a four-year authorization to work for up to nine months a year. Their only obligation will be to return to their countries of origin in between. If they comply with the stipulations, they will then be able to apply for a two-year renewable residence and work permit.
  • The catalog of hard-to-fill occupations: Finally, the national employment pathway or catalog of hard-to-fill occupations, which already existed, has incorporated new facilities and shorter deadlines. The objective of this pathway is to attract foreign workers for occupations not covered in the country. Now, this catalog of hard-to-fill occupations must begin to be updated on a quarterly basis, reflecting the reality of vacant occupations by provinces.

Is it time to invest in foreign talent?

Thus, this reform of the Foreigners' Regulation carried out by José Luis Escrivá's team has laid the groundwork for Spanish employers to finally be able to turn to fishing for foreign talent, as there are different situations that allow them to obtain a work permit in Spain.

For example, the change in legislation regarding students with higher degrees is of vital importance: what is the point of helping to train people if they cannot access our labor market? Domestic companies will now be able to recruit their talent there, in a pool that will be radically expanded.

Moreover, it must be said that this modification — and that of the training roots, or the facilities implemented in the recruitment at origin — not only expands the amount of talent available, but will do something equally or even more important in the long term: diversify the workforces of companies, as well as the characteristics of the Spanish working population.

You may be interested in reviewing our article: How to stay and work in Spain as a foreigner after higher education.

Diversity is always positive, it always brings new points of view and solutions. With the new regulations governing the treatment of foreign labor by the Spanish State, the country's companies will find it easier to apply this diversity to their workforces. And perhaps there is no better option for their managers than to start, from now on, to keep an eye on the foreign labor market that has opened up to them.

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