Skills shortage does not seem to be the most pressing problem of European labour markets, a new global survey suggests. But an abundance of trained workers can also point to a shortage in the job supply.
Almost half of business owners in the United States have had trouble finding sufficiently skilled staff between February and August 2006, but only one in six European employers has had similar problems, a recent survey by Manpower suggests. The temporary work company surveyed 32,000 employers in 26 countries on all continents. According to the report, supply and demand of well-skilled labour are much more balanced in Europe than in the Asia-Pacific region and than worldwide on average.
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* “Positions such as accountants, engineers, nurses, sales/marketing managers etc. that typically require a university degree.”
** China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan
Source: Manpower Talent Shortage and Wage Inflation Survey
The report points to one of the reasons for Europe’s high unemployment, in particular of well-trained job seekers: the continent’s high supply of skilled workers is not counterbalanced by a sufficient excess demand for labour.
The report also shows that in some regions and branches, limited shortages in the supply of skilled labour do exist. In Austria, the figure of employers having experienced skills problems is almost as high as in Asia. France and the UK are experiencing shortages in business services, Ireland in agriculture, the Netherlands in the electricity, and gas and water industries, Norway and Switzerland in construction and Spain in hotels and restaurants.
Regions with a big demand for skilled work (with more than 30% of businesses reporting difficulties) are Carinthia and Lower Austria in Austria, Brussels in Belgium, Connaught in Ireland and North West England.
In many cases, employers say they try to make up for the shortages by paying higher wages. In some cases, however, very few employers have done so. Whether or not skills shortage leads to higher wages seems to depend of a number of other factors that are not subject to this research.