Press Release  | 

The Covid-19 crisis does not affect the demand for digital professionals in Catalonia

  • The Digital Talent Overview 2020 report, produced by Barcelona Digital Talent, concludes that digital professionals are still the most sought-after by companies, despite the Covid-19 crisis

  • The city of Barcelona remains a tech-pole for talent and now has over 77,000 ICT workers on account of the increase in technical university graduates and migratory flows: 31% of the total professionals are from other cities

  • In the last two years, demand for digital talent has increased by 80% in Barcelona while the supply of digital professionals has grown by only 23%

  • The presence of women in Barcelona’s digital sector (26.5%) has grown since last year (22%) and is above the European average


Barcelona, 22 June 2020.- The crisis resulting from measures to contain Covid-19 has strongly impacted the European labour market.. The need to digitalise companies and public administrations in order to keep them operating has nonetheless sustained demand for digital professionals. This is one of the conclusions of the Digital Talent Overview 2020 report, which is produced by Mobile World Capital Barcelona, the Technological Circle of Catalonia and the Regional Government of Catalonia as part of the Barcelona Digital Talent initiative, a public-private alliance promoted by Mobile World Capital Barcelona, the Technological Circle of Catalonia, Barcelona Tech City, 22@Network, Foment del Treball Nacional employers’ association, Barcelona Global, Barcelona City Hall and the Regional Government of Catalonia, with the aim of making Barcelona the capital for digital talent.

In Catalonia, despite people being hired at a slower pace, the digital professions have remained the most sought-after during the pandemic. In March, April and May 2020, over 6,700 digital job offers were published. This figure is much higher than those for the next highest sought-after job categories during the crisis such as management and financial and business operations, for which there has been a highly significantly fall in demand.

The report’s presentation, which took place remotely, included the intervention of the Minister for Digital Policy and Public Administration of the Regional Government of Catalonia of Catalonia, Jordi Puigneró; of the director of the Talent Digital programme of Mobile World Capital Barcelona and spokesman for Barcelona Digital Talent, Jordi Arrufí; and the Chairman of the Technological Circle of Catalonia (CTecno), Joan Ramon Barrera.

Barcelona, a pole of attraction for digital talent

Barcelona continues to strengthen its position as a tech-pole for talent. According to the study, the number of digital professionals from other cities increased by 3,600 in 2019. They now account for 31% of the total number of ICT ecosystem workers in Barcelona. Madrid, London and Buenos Aires are the main exporters of talent to the Catalan capital. A breakdown by technologies shows that cybersecurity brings the most talent to Barcelona, with 37.9%, followed by Big Data, with 34%.

The gross salary of digital professionals in Barcelona stands at around €37,500, a figure that is significantly higher than Spain’s €30,807 average salary for all sectors as a whole. This figure is, however, far lower than that of the digital hubs that compete with Barcelona for global talent: the average salary in London is over €73,000, although the high cost of living in London and in other European cities has enabled Barcelona to establish a competitive edge over other cities, except for Madrid.

The variety of company types demanding talent in Barcelona reflects the diversity and richness of its ecosystem. IT consulting firms, global centres for digital services of multinationals based in Barcelona, research centres and so-called scale-ups (startups growing in employees and turnover as a result of several consecutive years of high growth) feature on the list of the companies that hire most. There is also a broad range of sectors: 56% of technology companies operate in non-IT industries such as the media (11%), services for companies (10%), manufacturing (8%) and finance (6%).

The city currently has a total of over 77,000 workers in this field, which is 14% more than last year. One of the driving forces of this growth, alongside migratory flows, is technical universities (which have produced 19% more graduates than last year).

This trend is intensifying in Europe, where jobs in the digital sector are being created at a fast rate. In the period from 2008 to 2018, employment among ICT specialists grew by 41.3%, a figure that contrasts with the modest figure in the same period for the overall creation of jobs, which was 3.4% for all sectors as a whole. The United Kingdom and Germany are the great tech-poles for talent in Europe. The two account for 36% of tech professionals although they only represent 29% of the population.

The digital talent gap, even larger

In absolute terms it is estimated that for each digital talent job offer, there are only 15 candidates. This rate has fallen two points in comparison with data for last year and lies a long way from the 36 candidates for non-technological profile job offers. In the last two years, demand for digital talent has risen in Barcelona by 80% while supply of digital professionals has grown by only 23%. In the European Union, Spain has experienced the third highest increase in digital sector job offers, and is exceeded only by Austria and Portugal. The advance in digital transformation means that digital professionals are increasingly cross-sectoral and working in areas other than ICT. Artificial Intelligence remains the most sought-after emerging technology in Barcelona, followed by the Internet of Things (IOT). Reducing the digital talent gap is now more urgent than ever in order to answer market demands.

This digital gap is also accompanied by gender inequality. The percentage of women working in digital jobs in Barcelona is 26.5%. Although the figure has grown in comparison with last year (22%) and is slightly higher than the European average (25.1%), the percentage demonstrates broad room for improvement. The only area of digital knowledge in which there is gender parity is UX/UI, for which 51% are women.

Hence, according to the data from the Digital Talent Overview 2020 report, Spain suffers from shortfalls in generating talent and academic excellence. Spain, which is home to 9% of Europe’s population, only has 6.6% of its digital talent (323,000 professionals). Insofar as mobility is concerned, the balance of tech talent flows is positive: the country attracts 8.5% of tech talent mobility within the EU and exports only 4.3% of total tech talent outside the EU.

Academic excellence in technology remains a challenge for Spain and none of its universities feature at the top of the world or European league tables, in which countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland stand out. The Polytechnic University of Catalonia is the best-known centre for Computer Sciences and Information Systems in Spain as a whole.

The report considers different lines of action for reversing this situation that range from encouraging social awareness to promote digital skills and professional retraining to attracting international talent. It also considers measures such as adapting training programmes to market needs, raising the awareness of society as a whole about digital talent and encouraging the presence of women in the digital world.

Regional Government of Catalonia Technical Office for attracting and retaining digital talent

In autumn last year, the Regional Government of Catalonia established a technical office to promote the generation, attraction and retention of digital talent in Catalonia, with a view to guaranteeing the competitiveness of the business fabric and of startups and to positioning Catalonia as a pole for digital talent in Europe. Through this programme, which has been allocated a budget of 366,000 euros for three years, the skills of non-digital talent will be developed to make them digital, international professionals will be attracted, existing training programmes will be adapted to the digital skills base required by the market, training contents and itineraries will be designed and the digital training and interest of both today’s workers and of new generations will be encouraged.