The Spanish economy is a service economy, as in general are those of developed countries. The service or tertiary sector represents 74% of Spanish GDP, not counting construction, which contributes just over 6% to national wealth. Industry accounts for 16%, compared to almost 30% in Germany, and the primary sector, that is, agriculture, 3.4%. If there is a subsector that weighs on services as a whole, it is tourism, which in 2022 and once the health crisis is over, is expected to be 10.8% of GDP.
And this distribution will continue in the coming decades. The sources of our economy are not going to change more than one point more or one point less in total participation. Tourism will continue to be a prime mover in our economy and in the services sector, where many of its activities overlap with this subsector, defends Antonio Pedraza, president of the financial commission of the General Council of Economists of Spain (CGE).
Although everything is moving forward and within the tourism sector itself, new developments are being produced that will be consolidated in the coming years. “The sun and beach model will continue to be essential, but other forms of tourism such as culture, gastronomy or events are being developed with great force.”
Another change in this economic activity is also important. “Temporality is beginning to expire and tourists are already coming more in autumn and spring and not just massively in summer,” adds Pedraza. He does believe that there is a sector that is evolving, and more so in the future, and that is agriculture: “It is becoming industrialized and its role in Spanish exports is increasing. This sector is, together with the technological one, one of the powerful sources of foreign sales”.
Funcas director of the situation, Raymond Torres, thinks the same about the structure of our economy. “If we look at the trends, the Spanish GDP will continue to be based on the same activities as before, there will be no disruption and tourism will have the important attraction it enjoys now.” This does not mean that the country’s economic course remains exactly the same in the short and medium term and that there are aspects that do not change over what already exists.
The Funcas expert assures that Spain is going to have a greater internationalization towards Europe, “it is no longer going to be as global as it has been in recent years and the links with nearby countries in terms of trade relations are going to be closer. ”.
The digitization of production has hit some sectors hard
Another change pointed out by Torres refers to digitization. “The trend is that there will be production of digital services in more sectors.” In the automotive industry, for example, it is now betting on digitizing production and also on sustainability, as is also the case in the capital goods subsector. The crisis in the supply chain has changed the status quo and this may favor our country, “which, due to its lower production costs, especially labor costs, may be a focus for locating industries.” The expert also points to changes in the energy model, with a clear dominance in the near future of renewables.
Regarding the business world, reality is in a movement that will accelerate in these years. Raymond Torres points out that “if any progress is being made, it is in connectivity. It is a paradigmatic change due to the digital transformation itself that results in great potential for business.”
New technologies, in addition to climate change, geopolitical tensions, pandemics and globalization, “will mark the life of the activity of Spanish companies in the coming years”, according to the president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Spain (ICJCE), Ferran Rodriguez. “We auditors believe that one of the elements that will play a key role in all these megatrends, and that it will experience its own revolution, is corporate information and its verification,” says Rodríguez.
The legal framework and companies will have to adapt and offer different information in both the financial and non-financial spheres. The president of the ICJCE explains that an example is sustainability, “on which a series of directives are being developed in the EU, such as information on sustainability, green bonds or due diligence, which are going to generate a drastic change in the reporting obligation that institutions are going to have to comply with.”
The transformations that are taking place affect and will especially affect the most demanded professional profiles. Both Ferrán Rodríguez and Raymond Torres agree that a “qualitative leap” is going to be made both in training and in work organization. This tends to be more horizontal and to value the capacity for innovation and teamwork.
The areas of artificial intelligence and the automation of processes are already main and this is reflected in the data. A study published last May by the CYD Foundation (Knowledge and Development) indicates that 96% of graduates in computer science and 92% in engineering, industry and construction are working five years after graduating with the highest quality in their labor insertion (duration of the contracts, highly qualified positions and more net salary).
The international indices that measure the degree of preparation of a country for digital development place Spain in the world average and slightly above the European Union average.
For its part, the Cotec Foundation, in a recent report carried out in collaboration with Iseak, concludes that the occupations with an increasingly growing demand are “those that require greater qualification: scientific and intellectual technicians and professionals, support technicians and professionals , directors and managers.
On the contrary, the occupations that have been declining since the end of the 20th century are those of workers in the manufacturing industry and construction, artisans, and elementary occupations.
The economy of the future is also the object of official concern. Last year, the Government produced a report entitled Foundations and proposals for a long-term strategywith an eye on the year 2050. The text, prepared with the contribution of more than a hundred experts from the Independent Tax Authority (Airef), the Bank of Spain and the European Commission, examines the country’s challenges and proposes measures to reach the middle of the century as a “competitive, innovative and equitable” country.
In the economic section, the report highlights one of the burdens that must be combated: the low level of productivity in the economy, which affects all sectors. As less wealth is produced, wages are lower and there is less competition than in neighboring countries. The calculation that is made is that, in 2050, this factor, productivity, must be increased by 50% over the current one.
10.8% It is the weight that tourism will have in GDP in 2022, once the health crisis is over.
48% of the Spanish active population only have ESO studies.
Being such a long-term strategy, the proposals are rather illustrative, but highlight the concepts that are indicated as essential to increase productivity and competitiveness: commitment to the training of citizens in general and of workers in particular, since a 48% of the active population has only Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO) or even less, and “a strong modernization of our productive fabric”.
The high presence of small companies and the scarcity of medium-sized ones, as well as the small size of newly created companies, are two fundamental handicaps for our economy to be productive, according to the report. This is what the economist Antonio Pedraza believes, who explains that in Europe it is going to larger sizes, 15 or 16 employees at least.
Business organizations also point to the small size of companies as a major economic problem and claim fewer bureaucratic obstacles to increase staff. Cepyme has quantified in almost 20 procedures, accounting, labor and tax, those necessary to go from small to medium-sized company.
Life expectancy in Spain, 83 years on average, is one of the highest in the world, specifically the third highest after Switzerland and Japan. This great human progress is accompanied, however, by important challenges for the economy. It is estimated that in the next three decades public spending on pensions will increase by up to five points of GDP and health spending by up to one point.
The sustainability of the public pension system has been on the table for some time, but with more intensity in recent years, since the forecasts for workers who retire after 2030 are rather pessimistic in terms of the amount of their benefit and, therefore, in terms of their standard of living.