The food employers appreciate risks for employment due to inflation
The increase in the cost of energy and transport, inflation, uncertainty at the international level and a consumption that begins to show signs of weakness due to the prospects of an economic slowdown. The food and beverage industry has withstood the pull of the rise in costs in the first half -when activity still did not show signs of weakness- and has increased hiring by 3.7%. However, employers fear that the current context of uncertainty will end up translating sooner rather than later into a decline in employment.
From January to June, the sector reached an average of 518,400 employed (close to 90% belong to the food segment and around 10% to beverages), according to data from the Employment Report prepared by the Spanish Federation of Food and Beverage Industries (FIAB), by CEPREDE and with the support of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, and which confirm that it is practically close to the levels prior to the outbreak of the covid pandemic.
At this time of the year, the industry perceives a slowdown in demand that coincides with inflation that was still at 7.3% in October, with high energy costs, logistical tensions, supply problems and the increase in the cost of materials cousins. “All these factors are already seriously affecting both industrial productivity and consumption and, if the appropriate measures are not established, it could have an impact on employment,” they warn.
The sector demands a VAT reduction
They recall that they are the leading Spanish industrial sector in terms of activity and employment, so unstable behavior in the labor market would be “a bad sign for the Spanish economy as a whole.” Before this scenario occurs, they ask the Government to avoid approving any measure that could harm the competitiveness and employment of industries and claim a reduction in VAT on food and beverages that serve as an incentive to consumption, as well as accelerating the approval of the Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE) aimed specifically at the food sector.
The increase in employment is greater in these activities than in industry in general, although it is lower than in the economy as a whole. Yet the food and beverages represent 21% of employment in the manufacturing industry (employs 1 in 5 workers). “Food and beverages have reconfirmed themselves as the largest industrial sector in terms of employment, which shows that this is a resilient and strategic sector for Spain”, Mauricio García de Quevedo, general director of FIAB, has highlighted.
The problem of the lack of skilled labor
Regarding the distribution of employment by autonomous communities, Catalonia (20.3%), Andalusia (14.1%) and the Valencian Community (10.6%) head the list, followed by Castilla y León (9%), Galicia (8.2%) and Castilla-La Mancha (7.2%). By gender, the proportion of women employed in the food and beverage industry continues to be higher than in the manufacturing industry as a whole, with shares of 38.5% and 27.7% of the total employed, respectively. Youth employment (between 16 and 25 years old) improved by 49.5% in the sector, while that of those over 56 years of age did around 12%. The most representative age group continues to be between 46 and 55 years, with a share of 28.5% of the total employed in food and beverages. 80% of employees have a permanent contract.
As in other sectors, this industry is facing a problem of lack of skilled labor. For this reason, FIAB has asked the Executive to strengthen the educational offer as quickly as possible with training more adapted to the specific skills and needs required by these industries. “We must encourage closer contact between industry and the academic world to be able to respond quickly to the labor challenges of companies, guaranteeing the immersion of the best talent in the sector”, added García de Quevedo.
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