EU Skills Shortage: Is it As Bad As it Seems?

EU Skills Shortage: Is it As Bad As it Seems?
EU Skills Shortage: Is it As Bad As it Seems?

The focus on skills shortages across Europe has heightened since the result of the Brexit referendum, with Britain and the remaining EU Member States thinking about how tighter borders will affect international recruitment.

Research by Cielo has found that nearly half of all Talent Leaders today cite skills shortages as the biggest obstacle to securing high-quality talent. These shortages were highlighted as being more significant issues than the usual suspects, including cost of hire, time to hire, etc.

Cielo’s study found that just 31% of businesses that work with an RPO provider are impacted by the skills shortage, compared to 43% that recruit in-house. This prompts us to ask whether Europe’s skills shortages are real, or if instead they reflect that businesses are not fully utilising the best techniques to attract and hire the best talent.

Let’s examine the possible scenarios:

1. There is a Skills Shortage in Europe.

Recently, there has been extensive research undertaken into the advantages of internal hiring over external hiring, and the outcome appears to be impacting European recruitment. Matthew Bidwell of Wharton University claims that external hires receive “significantly lower performance evaluations” compared to internal hires. When a senior position cannot be filled internally, there is an obvious skills gap between what a company expects and what is available externally.

In some industries, there appears to be an increasingly limited talent pool. The education sector is a prime example, with more and more UK schools being “forced” to hire staff without the experience to fill the skills gap. The Department for Education reports that in recent years there has been a 10% increase in unqualified teachers being recruited for teaching positions in the UK.

2. There is Not a Skills Shortage in Europe.

It has been reported that the average graduate job – one which requires a specific set of criteria including a 2:1 degree at university – receives 39 candidate applications per position. So why do we feel that the majority are not suitable hires? While this could suggest many things, one scenario is that some businesses are not in a position to undertake an end-to-end process and finalise the hire. It could also imply that some organisations may not have the capability to provide learning and development opportunities should a candidate need upskilling on one area of the job role.

A report by iCIMS software states that “many organisations do not have strategic global recruitment plans in place”. This could mean that businesses simply don’t know how to recruit, and making the skills gap is wider than it needs to be.

The State of the Skills Shortage

While there is no definitive data-based answer on whether the European skills gap is real, businesses don’t have to suffer in silence. The right talent is out there, and better Talent Acquisition – whether it’s achieved through increased training for recruiters, talent leaders and others on how to engage with diverse talent or working with an RPO provider – can make a big difference.


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