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Image © Kirsten Davis/Adobe Stock
Image © Kirsten Davis/Adobe Stock

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Skills alone will not solve labour shortages in Europe

Reducing the levels of labour shortages in Europe - which are limiting production and service delivery in several sectors and causing growing concern for employers - will only be possible by improving job quality factors such as pay and autonomy, in addition to growing skills and learning and addressing other factors, according to Eurofound’s latest report Measures to tackle labour shortages: Lessons for future policy.

This unique new research reveals that Europe’s growing labour shortages are particularly prevalent in sectors with challenging working conditions, such as health and long-term care, where issues such as greater levels of employee autonomy, access to training and career progression are important to address to make these sectors more attractive to workers and increase retention.

Measures to address them must be prioritised to not only help businesses meet production targets and deliver quality services, but also ease work intensification for those in the most affected sectors. This will involve skills development, but also increasing the attractiveness of certain sectors and occupations, activating underutilised labour, and better matching supply and demand.

Eurofound’s new report looks at measures implemented at national level to tackle labour shortages in the health, care, and information and communication technology sectors, as well as those arising from the twin green and digital transition, to assess what works and the contextual factors supporting or hindering effective policy implementation and outcomes.

At the end of 2022, the overall job vacancy rate in the EU was 2.8%, ranging from 0.8% in Romania and Bulgaria, to 4.6% in Austria. In total, five EU Member States recorded a job vacancy rate above 4%. Skills was an important aspect of difficulties in filling vacancies requiring specialist ICT competencies: 6% of European companies found it difficult to fill such positions in 2022, up 3.4 percentage points compared with 2014. This was particularly the case in Belgium (10.5%), Germany and Luxembourg (both 8.4%).

The report also notes that greater efforts are required to overcome stereotyping or attitudinal barriers among pupils and parents, students, workers and employers to occupations and sectors as they are preventing entry to certain training and career paths, recruitment of specific groups or take-up of training by women in male dominated professions and vice versa. Policymakers and social partners have a vital role to play in these efforts.

Speaking on the publishing of the report, Eurofound Executive Director Ivailo Kalfin said, ‘This research shows the importance of job quality and working conditions in addressing labour shortages in Europe. In addition, targeting underutilised groups in the labour market is vital, as is providing holistic support that addresses factors preventing labour market participation, such as health issues and lack of access to affordable care, as well as training and work experience needs.’

‘Going forward, this requires the close collaboration of social partners and other relevant bodies in the context of broader measures, such as work-life balance policies and tax and benefit incentives.’

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James Higgins

James Higgins

Press contact Communication Officer +353-1-204-3100
Måns Mårtensson

Måns Mårtensson

Press contact Media & Promotion Manager Media relations, marketing and promotion +353-1-204 3124

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Eurofound, a tripartite European Union Agency, provides knowledge to assist in the development of social, employment and work-related policies

Eurofound (European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions) is a tripartite EU body, whose mission is to provide knowledge to assist in the development of better social, employment and work-related policies.

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