This week, Real Economy travels to Spain, the first country to receive billions from the European pandemic recovery fund.
We chat with Spain’s Economy and Digitization Minister, Nadia Calviño, and meet students in Tenerife, where stimulus funds are being spent on job training.
Laying the foundations for Europe’s recovery
Europe’s response to the pandemic crisis has been a historic €806.9 billion stimulus package (in current prices).
At its heart is the Recovery and Resilience Facility, worth €723.8 billion (in current prices), which aims to help EU countries get back on their feet through investment, job creation and building a green and digital future.
Spain is set to receive 69.5 billion euros of this money – the largest public investment plan in the country’s recent history. So far, it has received €9 billion in emergency pre-financing and its first tranche of €10 billion in December 2021.
In Tenerife, Canarians like Adrián are learning new job skills to help them find jobs.
“At university, you can have a lot of theory but little practice. The advantage of vocational training is that it is possible to do internships”, explains Adrián.
“If they like the way you work and they need people, they will take you. How do I see my future after this training? Well, I hope to start working on something related to that. I I would love to work in different countries around the world. USA, Germany, England, anywhere, but work in different places,” he adds.
While training centers like the one where Adrián is located already existed, partly thanks to the European Social Fund, 2 billion euros from the Recovery Fund will be dedicated to the creation of 135,000 new vocational training places throughout Spain .
Jorge Rivero Antuña, director of the CIFP César Manrique vocational school, says the money is already being used to teach technology and business.
“We receive funds from Europe, known as the European Social Fund. This covers 80% of teachers’ salaries and training for the unemployed and manual workers. Regarding the resilience mechanism, we have already received funds to finance courses in technology, entrepreneurship, etc. We hope to continue to receive funds throughout 2022 and 2023.”
The rise of technology
Tourism remains the main driver of economic activity in Tenerife, but the archipelago’s rapidly growing technology sector also offers job opportunities.
Carlos Rodríguez is the founder of Omnia Infosys, a company that helps SMEs and public bodies in the Canary Islands meet their digital transformation needs. Despite high regional and national youth unemployment rates, Carlos says the company struggles to find the right candidates.
“At the moment people don’t have the right training to meet what we need now – both in the Canary Islands and in the rest of Spain. All the skills that we need people don’t have. just not,” he explains.
Despite this difficulty, Carlos concludes on an optimistic note: “This sector is going to grow a lot. There will be a lot of demand. We need more and more people with different skills because the demand since COVID-19 is incredible. The growth has three or four times over the past two years. And this growth will continue to increase. In fact, in Europe, there are millions of job vacancies in this sector.
Transforming the Spanish economy
To receive its first €10 billion installment, Spain had to implement dozens of structural reforms, including measures to improve its vocational training ecosystem and reduce the gender pay gap at work. .
Other EU member states are also launching reforms to receive their share of recovery funds.
For more information on Spain’s national recovery plan and how the country intends to use recovery funds to transform its economy, Real Economy spoke with Nadia Calviño, Vice President of the Government and Minister economy and digitization, .
Euronews: “Spain should receive almost 70 billion euros. What will this mean for Spain and the Spanish economy?”
Nadia Calviño, Vice President of the Spanish Government and Minister of Economy and Digitization:
“This is very important for the present of Spain and for the future of Spain, the next generations. Our recovery plan is focused on four axes: green, digital, social and territorial cohesion and gender equality, engine of all our programs. Digital will represent around 30% of the total investment.”
Euronews: These funds are accompanied by a set of structural reforms. How difficult was it to fulfill all these conditions?
Nadia Calvino: “The process was heavy and very intense. We were a bit of the guinea pigs, we opened the process. We learned with the Commission how to implement this unprecedented recovery plan.
Regarding the reforms, we have accelerated them during 2021, now the challenge is to finalize those pending in parliament and to continue the flow of funds that has already started last year. »
Euronews: “Are you satisfied that there is the necessary administrative capacity to provide it? »
Nadia Calvino: “It is a very, very important challenge for any administration. Spain is a big country, it is a complex country. We have a multi-level administration. So we have put in place a governance structure and reinforced the mechanisms we have.
We will launch in the coming weeks some of the most significant strategic plans, for example to lead the transition to the electric and connected car.
Euronews: “What difference do you think vocational training projects will have on unemployment?
Nadia Calvino:“Vocational training is one of the keys to unlocking a better functioning labor market in the future. Our unemployment rate has fallen to 13.3% and this gives us a good base which, together with structural reforms, in particular the reform of the labor market, and also a very significant investment effort in education, vocational training, lifelong learning, which can enable Spain to finally tackle certain imbalances that have held back growth and prosperity for decades.”