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Analysis of labour and skills shortages: Overcoming bottlenecks to productivity and growth

General context 

Structural skills mismatches and the insufficient orientation of education and training curriculum relative to labour market needs is a further component leading to shortages of appropriately skilled workers. The European Year of Skills emphasises the importance of improving skills matching, something that can play an important role in helping to address the shortages that all Member States and sectors are experiencing in one way or another.

As a contribution to the Year of Skills and in framing a proposals for further actions to help address labour and skills shortages, BusinessEurope has undertaken a survey on labour and skills shortages with companies and employers’ organisations across Europe, covering a broad range of sectors.

The findings presented in this study reflect the input received from 110 respondents (93 companies and 17 employers’ organisations) and reflect the views of companies of all sizes, with around a third of responses being from companies employing less than 50 workers. Input to the survey was anonymised. 

Findings related to digital skills

The findings from BusinessEurope’s survey reflect that companies need workers of all skill levels, with shortages reported as being most acute in technical (especially mathematics and IT). Almost half (46%) of respondents identified a need for digital and STEM skills, which reflects the growing need for these skills sets to underpin the digital and green transitions. 

Emphasis is also placed on the necessity to support up-skilling and re-skilling in a lifelong learning
perspective. European Commission analysis has identified that 90% of job-related training is funded by employers. The results from BusinessEurope’s survey underscore the emphasis that employers put on investing in continuous training and developing a company culture and mindset towards participation in training, especially in the context of the digital and green transitions. 

It is necessary to continue to explore ways to open up access to training for individuals, both in terms of the infrastructure and course content and learning outcomes. Social partners and companies need to make the best possible use of new technologies in education and training: this entails the digital transformation of the learning process; enhancing teachers’ proficiency in using new means of learning; and improving learning outcomes, focusing on training that delivers the skills that are in high demand on our labour markets, notably digital skills (eg coding, cyber skills, data analysts and other advanced ICT skills sets), skills for the greening transition, as well as transversal/social/linguistic skills.