Barcelona City Council has opened the ‘Barcelona International Welcome Desk’, a new office located in the MediaTIC building in the city’s 22@ innovation district, aimed at international talent that wants to come and live in Barcelona or has just moved here.
It is a strategic municipal initiative that brings together in a coordinated way the services of City Promotion, Barcelona Activa and the Department of Information and Citizen Attention. The new office will offer information, advice and the possibility of carrying out various useful procedures on arrival in the city. It is the first office of its kind in Spain.
The new service, focused on the arrival phase of talent in the city, complements the portfolio of services currently offered by Barcelona City Council, such as the landing phase of international companies. This is therefore a key service, in terms of attracting, welcoming, retaining and boosting international talent. Barcelona International Welcome Desk responds to a demand from the local business and technological ecosystem and civil society.
The foreign community in Barcelona continues to grow – by 2.9% in the last year – and it represents 22.4% of the population, according to the latest municipal census. As a significant figure, 40% of the founders of start-ups in Barcelona are people born abroad.
Furthermore, the need has been identified to attract key areas of talent, especially in the technology sector following the announcements of large companies based in Barcelona and with vacancies. There is a need to recruit talent, whether for local companies, start-ups, multinationals, universities or research centres. The City Council, through Barcelona Activa, also offers training for local talent. One of the areas where the gap between supply and demand is significant is in the city’s digital business ecosystem. In the last two years the demand for digital talent has increased by 80%, while the supply by only 23%.
Barcelona International Welcome Desk is physically located in the emblematic MediaTIC building in the 22@ innovation district and will help people from other countries who decide to settle, work, invest, study and live in the city
Barcelona’s first Deputy Mayor of Economy, Work, Competitiveness and the Tax Office, Jaume Collboni, highlighted the fact that ‘with this office, Barcelona is once again a pioneer regarding a strategic issue of public policy such as attracting international talent. This one-stop-shop is a key city service that complements all the actions for attracting and retaining talent, so as to continue to be a global benchmark for economic activity and development, and above all to create quality employment. It will contribute in a key way to the mission of consolidating the city as a pole of attraction for international talent’.
The Spanish Government’s Delegate in Barcelona, Teresa Cunillera, emphasised ‘the commitment of the General State Administration to provide the maximum facilities, within the framework of our competences, to enable the arrival of this international talent’. Cunillera added that ‘she is committed to making documentation procedures, such as obtaining the NIE (National identity Card), quick and agile. Therefore, the government delegation aims to contribute to strengthening the ecosystem and the digital and knowledge hub that had already been set up in Barcelona’.
The president of Barcelona Global, Aurora Catà, highlighted that ‘for Barcelona Global, committed to making Barcelona one of the best cities in the world for talent and economic activity, this office was a very relevant “let’s make it happen”, which from the first day of the association we have been asking for and trying to achieve. We are very grateful to Barcelona City Council for making this possible’. Catà underlined the fact that for many years now the international talent living and working in Barcelona has made it known, through the International Talent Monitor survey carried out by Barcelona Global every two years, that the administrative procedures are one of the main problems that they come up against when they land in Barcelona’.
The president of the 22@ Network, Enric Urreta, emphasised that ‘the City Council should play a facilitating role for the arrival of professionals, and their training, like that which Barcelona Activa offers, and also as an enabler in the investment of companies and quality of life. The city has 10,000 jobs still to be filled in the ICT sector, and the city must respond with dynamics, talent and projects’. Urreta added that ‘we are in the district of innovation and talent, the DNA of the city’s values’.
Barcelona is the first Spanish city with a service of this nature, which offers advice to foreigners on arrival. Currently, 22% of the residents in Barcelona were born outside Spain
The main profiles of attention of this service and that are defined in the Entrepreneurship Law are people who come to invest, with positive impact on the territory; to create companies in strategic and job-creating sectors, to work as qualified professionals, to research and carry out investigation and innovation, and to study at universities. That is to say, a target audience that creates value in the territory. Furthermore, the new Start-ups Law foresees an improvement in the attraction of talent through procedures and taxation.
Barcelona, along with Madrid, attracts most of the international talent. The province of Barcelona represents 33% of the work permits for international talent granted in Spain through the Entrepreneurship Law (UGE). It is also worth highlighting that the province of Barcelona represents 16% of all residence permits granted under the EU free movement regime in 2019 in the whole of Spain.
The city is thus consolidating itself as one of the locations on a Spanish scale that cares the most about international talent, and is now a pioneer with the launching of this personalised service. Other European examples that offer similar services are the International House Copenhagen in Denmark, In Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the International House Gothenburg in Sweden, the Brno Expat Centre in the Czech Republic, or the Hamburg Welcome Centre in Germany.
Procedures, expert advice and information on life in the city
The office, both face-to-face and digital, is designed for people who have just arrived or are about to arrive in the city.
The three levels of personalised attention are:
- Basic and practical general information about life in the city. How the education or health system works, as examples of the most demanded by this profile. This information is reinforced by the Barcelona International Community Day event, which hosts thousands of people every year.
- Processing of priority administrative procedures upon arrival. A portfolio of more than a dozen specific municipal procedures, and for other administrations, will be offered, such as the processing of the municipal register or residence permit, mobility procedures or obtaining a digital certificate, among others.
- Expert advice and assessment on key issues, such as immigration, taxation and labour regulations.
The system of attention will be channelled through the Barcelona International Welcome Desk website. The platform’s digital social networks are @welcome_barcelona on Instagram and Barcelona International Welcome on LinkedIn. Another way to be kept up to date with all the news and activities is subscribing to the newsletter.
The method of prior and online appointments allows for those who have already arrived to be attended to, as well as those who are planning and preparing for their move to Barcelona.
Delegation of the Spanish Government, Barcelona Global and 22 @ Network
The Welcome Desk was created as a municipal service and will have the collaboration and involvement of the Delegation of the Spanish Government, as the key administration for improving the service to the community of international talent – and also with associations such as Barcelona Global, the 22@ Network, as well as from the business ecosystem to give voice to the demands and needs of companies and professionals in the city. The office also has the future ambition of joining other administrations and becoming an inter-administrative reference office that can offer a wider portfolio of services to talent.
A key service within the Barcelona Easy Plan strategy
The launch of the Barcelona International Welcome Desk is key to the Barcelona Easy Plan strategy, the roadmap to facilitate economic activity in the city. The office aims to promote the link between business and the city’s talent, as well as facilitating landing and connecting the international talent with the business ecosystem.
Barcelona also has a Government Measure on Talent which, in addition to promoting the policies of generation, attraction, reception and loyalty, has specific actions aimed at digital, female, young and senior talent.
This is a special Spotlight Feature in collaboration with Barcelona City Council and Barcelona Activa.