As soon as the effects of the economic and financial crisis and the bursting of the real estate bubble were felt, the need to turn the tide became clear. Our growth model has always been based on the same. In the first place, the easy currency of tourism, which served to finance imports. And then construction, which brings with it an increase in government revenue, income generation and increased consumption for various sectors.
The weight of the industry has fallen in Spain. It is a sector that has a multiplier effect on the rest of the economy, affecting GDP and job creation. The tractor effect of sectors such as the automotive, metal and food and beverage industries is striking. Without forgetting the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, electronics and ICT or mechanical engineering, which are very relevant both for their current contribution and for the growth prospects they offer.
Despite the importance of the industry, there are certain pressures that are sometimes difficult to get rid of.
A country of SMEs. The average size of Spanish industrial companies is smaller than in the European Union. This leads to fewer economies of scale, more difficult access to credit, restrictions on investments in R&D and, above all, problems in entering international markets.
In the past, one of the solutions that Spanish industry has found to solve this problem has been to merge geographically to exploit synergies. The concentration of machine tool manufacturers in the Basque Country or the aeronautical sector in Andalusia are two examples.
Subjects. Although much progress has been made in this regard, Spanish companies have yet to shake off the stereotypes that portray Spain as a tourist and leisure destination that condition our exports. Together we all need to create an image that Spain is not only a great country to live in, but also has a high level of technology and top companies.
professional qualification. There is a gap between highly qualified and unqualified personnel, and a worrying shortage of middle-level workers such as technicians, team leaders, workshop managers… In Spain, you’re either an engineer or you’re nothing. This is a problem because these intermediate positions employ highly qualified people. And sooner or later they become demotivated.
geographic imbalances. Catalonia and the Basque Country are traditionally the most industrialized municipalities in Spain, while there are areas where there is practically no industrial activity. This concentration affects companies far from the main industrial poles. Machine manufacturers often only have technical service offices in Barcelona, Bilbao or Madrid.
workforce competitiveness. Labor reform in Spain has increased flexibility and reduced labor costs, but we are in no man’s land: we are cheaper than the Europe of the Fifteen, but more expensive than Asia or Eastern Europe.
Therefore, we must opt for a quality competition. Competitiveness goes in two directions: in price and in quality. Spain has a component that focuses on quality rather than price. Our labor level competitiveness is not that of countries like China or Vietnam because the economies of scale are smaller.
We sell badly. Although quality should be the main argument, it is still difficult for us to use it. There are differentiators in quality, benefits and value, but we don’t know how to sell that. We don’t know how to convey that a slightly higher price is compensated by the quality offered. We don’t transfer it to the market so that what we charge is paid for.