DESPITE a slowing economy, Spain needs 100'000 qualified foreign workers per year until 2012 due to a shortage of IT, health and other professionals, a consultant's report published yesterday said.

In total the country will need between 250'000 and 300'000 immigrants per year - half the amount which has arrived annually in recent years - if low-skilled workers are included, according to the study by Etnia Comunicacion. “The shortage of highly qualified professionals in the technology sector, especially in the Internet area, as well as health professionals, engineers and consultants is starting to become urgent,” it said.

Spain's low birth rate and ageing population were cited by the report, which was based on data provided by the European Central Bank, the United Nations and the OECD, as reasons for the continued need for immigration.

There is currently a shortage of 25'000 engineers alone, mostly in the telecommunications sector, according to industry groups. “Spain needs to change its economic model and is losing opportunities to grow because it is very hard to recruit talented immigrants,” the president of telecommunication business association AETIC, Jesus Banegas, told a news conference called to present the report. “We need a future based on high work qualifications and not on temporary work contracts of low qualifications,” he added.
Earlier this month the Spanish government said it planned to slash the number of jobs on offer to foreigners recruited in their countries of origin, mostly in low-skilled areas like construction and the services sector. It reduced the total number of professions requiring foreign workers by 35 percent.

Speaking at the press conference, Secretary of State for Immigration, Consuelo Rumi, said there remained a “considerable need (for immigrants) in the health, engineering and IT sectors”.


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