3 February 2024
The statement, "I wasn't called for the interview because I don't live directly in the city where the job offer was," might sound surprising in many countries, but in Spain, it's a palpable reality. Geographical mobility, or the lack thereof, has emerged as a cultural and social issue that directly affects the country's economy.
Not everyone is willing to pack their bags and move elsewhere for a job. Some prefer to maintain social and family stability, and that is a completely legitimate choice. However, in Spain, where the majority of the population resides in owned homes, mobility is limited, as it is easier to move when living in a rented property.
The problem arises when companies themselves say "no" to mobility. This not only deprives them of the opportunity to retain talent but also hits their competitiveness. It's a problem deeply rooted in the Spanish business culture that, honestly, I believe should change.
All of this not only prevents companies from retaining talent but essentially drives it away.
It's not just about moving to a different city; there's also the dilemma of commuting to work every day. Many companies dismiss candidates who live "too far away" without even considering the option that commuting 40 kilometers daily is justified due to reasons such as traffic or public transportation irregularities. Moreover, in Spain, workers can't even deduct daily transportation expenses from their taxes. It's absurd!
All of this not only prevents companies from retaining talent but essentially drives it away. We need an urgent cultural change, but also some government measures to encourage the mobility that seems so elusive.
In Germany, where I currently reside, the situation is diametrically opposite. They even have a verb to describe the daily commuting to work: "pendeln." Workers can deduct all transportation expenses to work, whether using public transport or their own vehicle. And, mind you, they can also deduct all moving expenses, even if they come from another country.
Spanish administrations could benefit by taking note of these German measures to prevent the brain drain and promote business competitiveness. It would be necessary for these administrations to lead a cultural change that would ultimately benefit the country's economy. Tax incentives for mobility and relocations could be a crucial step in aligning the interests of companies and workers, thereby boosting the country's economy.