Skills mismatch: we are losing millions, and will be losing even more!

By the EESC's Employers' Group

The European economy loses over 2% of productivity per year due to a skills mismatch, according to a recent study commissioned by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). This means a loss of 80 cents per hour of work. The situation will get even worse if no reforms are undertaken.

According to the study, companies across most of the EU are witnessing a growing shortage of workers with adequate skills. In some occupations, such as ICT professionals, medical doctors, and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals, as well as teachers, nurses and midwifes, the impact is already significant. There is also a shortage of intermediate-level skilled profiles such as truck drivers, cooks and welders.

Consequences include additional spending on employee training, loss of competitiveness and slower recruitment processes. Over 70% of companies engaged in professional, scientific or technical services and 67% of ICT companies admitted that skills mismatches have a serious effect on their human resources policies.

The companies surveyed pointed to insufficient traditions in lifelong learning and (re)qualification as the key factor in skills mismatches. People under 24 and over 65 are the most severely affected by mismatches. The least likely to be affected are those aged 40 to 54.

Efficient vocational education and training, more lifelong learning and effective labour intermediation are key to bridging the gap, as is improving skills evaluation to help identify in advance the skills that will be needed in the future.

Slow educational reforms, over-reaching labour market regulations, excessive labour taxation and arbitrary wage-setting mechanisms are policy-related causes of skills mismatches. Change must be implemented both by national and local authorities and by stakeholders – educational institutions, employers and workers themselves.

The study was prepared by the Institute for Market Economics at the request of the EESC's Employers' Group and can be downloaded at: http://europa.eu/!dM96Ft (jl)