6/7 – Tackle labour shortages – EU Elections

In general terms, a skills shortage occurs when the demand for a particular skill is greater than the supply of qualified workers.

Our sixth priority in the run-up to the European elections concerns the labour market shortage of skills. A global situation that has already been experienced in other periods of our history, such as the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century.

Europe is suffering from an aging population. In addition, the labour market trends, with the emergence of new technologies, Artificial Intelligence, and sustainability requirements, make the relationship between supply and demand more tense.

As highlighted in the report published by our colleagues from BusinessEurope, Analysis of Labour and Skills Shortages: Overcoming bottlenecks to productivity and growth, “the EU’s working-age population is projected to decline by 57.4 million by 2100, and the old-age dependency ratio to increase – from 33% to 60% by 2100. As a result of these trends, the EU’s share in the world’s population will continue to fall – from 6% today to below 4% in 2070.”

A decrease in loyalty or commitment among job seekers to go through a full recruitment process has also been detected, and as younger generations take over, the situation is expected to become more challenging. Concerning skills, although it is true that lots of companies seem more inclined to provide specific training after hiring, there’s still a gap between the educational world and the working world.


The EU’s share in the world’s population will continue to fall – from 6% today to below 4% in 2070.



It is important to consider that jobs are evolving and that the skills achieved at the beginning of a professional career will have to be updated and optimised regularly in order for competitiveness to be maintained.

Retraining, upskilling, and reskilling 

At CEC European Managers, we think that the best solution is to foster retraining and re-education. We believe that the most cost-effective way to ensure productivity in the labour market and guarantee social cohesion is to train European citizens and equip them with the necessary new skills.

This is the best of all the possible solutions because, beyond a fair wage, European citizens need confidence, prospects, and a positive impact of work on their lives and living conditions. 

In this sense, we welcome EU institutional initiatives such as the European Year of Skills or the specific European Commission action plan.

In this sense, the European Year of Skills is responding to the EU 2030 social targets endorsed by Member States, making sure 60% of adults participate in training every year, and aiming for an employment rate of at least 78% by 2030, the EU Commission action plan tackles skills’ shortage through five action areas:

  1. Supporting underrepresented people to enter the labour market
  1. Providing support for skills development, training and education
  1. Improving working conditions
  1. Improving fair intra-EU mobility for workers and learners
  1. Attracting talent from outside the EU


European citizens need confidence, prospects, and a positive impact of work on their lives and living conditions.


The European Commission invited Member States to optimize their education systems and fostered the creation of a specific European Skills Agenda. Its objectives include the participation of at least 30% of low-qualified adults 25-64 in learning during the last 12 months or a 20% share of unemployed adults aged 25-64 with a recent learning experience, among others, to be achieved by 2025.

The role of social partners

Among the many recommendations and initiatives launched by the EU Commission, some advice is also made on the role social partners should have in dealing with this issue, and managers are essential.

If we want to solve the skills shortage, we must:

  • address poor working conditions through collective bargaining in the sectors characterised by inadequate working conditions
  • help to activate underrepresented groups and find adapted solutions to promote the employment of older workers
  • support apprenticeships, and partnerships between vocational education and training (VET) providers and employers
  • train long-term care workers on more person-centred care and digitalisation
  • update the multi-sectoral guidelines to tackle violence and harassment in the healthcare sector
  • work together towards a European framework to improve working conditions for third-country professional drivers
  • contribute with their expertise to setting up the EU Talent Pool to attract talent from third countries

As leaders and managers, we are personally invested in our organisations’ and companies’ success. That is why it is in our interest to solve the skills shortage satisfactorily in a way that helps and promotes the idea of a prosperous and unified European Union. We facilitate and sometimes lead the inevitable workplace transitions and build bridges between employers and employees.

Regarding the EU Elections, we think it’s important that social dialogue remains the main tool to address our common problems as we contribute to Europe’s project with social justice and competitiveness.

We invite European institutions to capitalise on improving the attractiveness of the European Union labour market.

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