Europe is grappling with an increasing shortage of skilled workers, a challenge that has been highlighted by recent press releases from both the Confederation of Danish Employers (DA) and the Polish Confederation, Lewiatan.
Over three-quarters of businesses in the European Union (EU) report difficulties in finding employees with the necessary skills. This was underscored during a business luncheon titled “Skills and Talents for Europe”, organized in Brussels by employers from Germany (BDA), Denmark (DA), and Poland (Lewiatan).
The primary objectives of the ongoing European Year of Skills are to enhance and adapt the qualifications of EU workers and to address the shortage of skilled labor. These goals align with the “Better Skilled” project initiated by the Confederation Lewiatan, which seamlessly integrates with the EU initiative.
The scarcity of workers is one of the most significant constraints on the European economy, with demographic shifts posing challenges for society at large. Ensuring a supply of skilled workers is paramount to maintaining Europe’s future prosperity and appeal.
Participants of the meeting emphasized the need for an EU strategy for skilled labor, encompassing both European workers and talents sourced from abroad. While the domestic skilled workforce is vital for growth, innovation, and competitiveness, there is a pressing need for more workers from overseas to counteract labor and skill shortages. Fair wage migration is essential, benefiting migrants, businesses, and national economies alike.
Maciej Witucki, President of the Confederation Lewiatan, stated, “Across Europe, we need more entrepreneurial skills, targeted migration policies, education, and the sharing of best practices.” EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the importance of skills in the EU’s policy due to their impact on the economy and competitiveness. He noted that over 70% of companies find it challenging to recruit workers with the right skills.
Given the challenges faced by the EU, such as the green and digital transformations and geopolitical shifts, there is a pressing need to focus on skill development. Schmit stressed that businesses should invest in skill development as much as they invest in new machinery.
The European Commission points out that while unemployment in Europe is at an all-time low, the number of job vacancies has reached a record high. This underscores the importance of increasing investments in education and training.
The European Year of Skills aims to help the EU achieve its social objectives, including ensuring that at least 78% of people aged 20-64 are employed and that 60% of adults participate in training annually. This initiative also supports the digital compass goals for 2030, which aim for at least 80% of adults to possess basic digital skills.
Improving access for foreigners to the EU job market, recognizing their qualifications, and creating efficient mechanisms to attract labor from third countries are also essential. This is particularly crucial for sectors facing persistent shortages and for recruiting specialists with the required skills.
The conference was organized as part of the project “Building the capacity and internal expertise of the Confederation Lewiatan in the field of skills and competencies in the workplace after the COVID-19 pandemic”, co-funded by the European Union, represented by the European Commission.