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Half of Spain’s employees find work through contacts, survey reveals

Foreigners rely most on who they know to get jobs, with 61.4% attaining posts this way

Employment centers place barely 2.5%, with private agencies managing 3.6%

A line outside an employment office in Madrid.
A line outside an employment office in Madrid.

Just under 47 percent of Spaniards still rely on family, friends or acquaintances to find work, according to a new survey by the National Statistics Institute (INE).

The study also shows that the country’s network of state-run job employment offices place just 2.5 percent of positions, with private agencies managing 3.6 percent. The remaining posts are filled as a result of job seekers sending their résumés to companies.

Public and private job centers find work for even fewer non- Spaniards than nationals: just 1.34% and 3.25%, respectively

The figures show that 46.7 percent of those who have found paid employment in Spain in the last five years did so through their contacts, while just 22.2 percent earned their position purely on the basis of merit, after applying to a company or organization directly.

More worrying is that job centers are responsible for placing such a small percentage of people in work. That said, private agencies are not much more successful.

The percentage of employees who found work through advertisements, either online or in the press, is almost twice that of private agencies, at 6.9 percent.

The data comes from a specific survey carried out by the INE on people in employment last year to discover more about the situation of first- and second-generation immigrants within the workforce.

The detailed analysis shows that foreigners rely even more on contacts to find employment, with 61.4 percent attaining positions in this way. Furthermore, public and private employment offices find jobs for even fewer non-Spaniards than nationals: just 1.34 percent and 3.25 percent, respectively.

The survey also asked why immigrants had come to Spain. In the majority of cases – 2,086,900 out of 4.7 million, which is to say 44.45 percent – the reason was to find work. The remainder came here to join a spouse or family member.

The data collected by the INE also shows differences in education and training between Spaniards and immigrants. In both groups, around 40 percent have a high school diploma, while among foreigners, the number of people who have studied up to age 18 is 32 percent, compared to 22.5 percent of Spaniards. But 33.8 percent of Spaniards have a higher education qualification, compared to 25.5 percent of those born outside the country.