Article

Human resources for research in Portugal and Spain

Laura Cruz Castro e Luis Sanz Menéndez, CSIC Institute of Public Goods and Policies, Madrid, Spain; Tiago Santos Pereira, Centre for Social Studies (CES) of the University of Coimbra, Portugal; Cláudia Sarrico, School of Economics and Management, University of Minho and Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies, Portugal;

Research is essential for economic growth and welfare, but resources for R&D in Portugal and Spain are behind those in the Europe of the Twenty-Seven (EU-27). Through an analysis of employment and working conditions of researchers in science and technology, it highlights the problems of low employment in the business sector and the limited attractiveness of research careers. A look at the number of college graduates and doctorate holders reveals a more optimistic picture. However, if highly educated workers are not integrated into the labour market, brain drain from these countries will continue.
Key points
  • 1
       In 2019, spending on R&D (as a percentage of GDP) was 64% (Portugal) and 57% (Spain) of the average EU-27 level.
  • 2
       Portugal has more researchers per thousand workers (9.6) than the EU-27 average (8.7), while Spain has fewer (6.3).
  • 3
       Since 2008, Portugal and Spain’s R&D spending as a proportion of total EU-27 R&D spending has decreased, and levels of gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) have not returned to pre-crisis levels.
  • 4
       While in the EU-27 on average 55% of all researchers are employed in business, in Portugal and Spain only 38% are employed in this sector.
  • 5
       Both countries experience a structural gap in employment in knowledge-intensive activities (KIA), especially in high-tech manufacturing.
  • 6
       The EU Recovery Plan is an opportunity for increasing the demand for highly qualified workers in Portugal and Spain. If such demand is not created, Portugal and Spain will consolidate their position as exporters of talent.

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