The European economy loses over 2% of productivity per year due to a mismatch of skills, according to a recent study commissioned by the European Economic and Social Committee. This means a loss of 80 eurocents for each hour of work. The situation will get even worse in the future due to demographic trends and ongoing technological developments, if no reforms are undertaken.
According to the study, companies in most of the EU’s Member States are witnessing a growing shortage of workers with skills tailored to their needs. 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 on the economy is already significant. Moreover, there is also a noticeable shortage of intermediate-level skilled occupations, such as truck drivers, cooks and welders.
The way skills mismatches affect European companies includes additional spending on employee training, loss of competitiveness and innovation capacity 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 of five reference countries surveyed in the study pointed to insufficient traditions in lifelong learning and (re)qualification as being the most significant factor in skills mismatches. People aged under 24 and over 65 are the most exposed to these mismatches. The least likely to be affected are those aged 40 to 54.