As a result of deciding to participate in the General Strike, I have been doing quite a bit of reading about the Spanish economy and its current state, which is quite bleak. In some expat sites, I was able to find information that even pertains to foreign workers here and the challenges that are being thrown at them.
The most interesting thing that I have seen in my regular life and have read about is the extreme overqualification of the Spanish workforce. I see it first-hand in my current job, where I myself fall into that category. I hold a Bachelor's degree and am working at a job that only requires high school graduation. A workmate of mine is in the same boat except sailing from England instead of the USA. Two business graduates cleaning diapers for low pay doesn't seem to be the 'Spanish dream' but it turns out is quite a reality for many of the residents.
The average percent of workers in the EU working below thier education level is 19% due to the recession. However, in Spain that number jumps to 31% according to Eurostat's 2008 figures. Nowadays, with jobs a dime a dozen, I am sure that number has increased. If you can find a job - any job - now, you take it and are just happy you have some money to pay your rent.
The last decades in Spain have been focused highly on the construction industry. With immigration and life booming in the country, new buildings and infrastructure were all the rage right along with tourism (a major cash cow for Spain). However, during that time, attendance at higher level educational centers rose as well. Unfortunatley, the money invested in the construction and service industries does not serve all of the highly educated people that were graduating. Spain failed to invest more in newer fields that would offer jobs to these qualified workerks. With high unemployment rates ransacking the country, people are taking the opportunity to increase thier qualifications even more - working on second Master's degrees, studying a completely new discipline, etc, which creates an even larger over-qualified working pool.
Specific to foreigners is the sad fact that while the over-qualification rate in the country rests at about one third, for us its almost two thirds - an amazing jump. Foreigners are also about 15% more likely to fall into poverty.
Looking for a job with these stats is just utterly depressing. The last Marketing job I saw online had over 226 hopefuls who had submitted thier resumes. The odds for getting that job were slim, as they are for many. This, along with the bleak outlook with the current labor reforms was even more reason to strike!