Skills Shortage - a Definition
In numerous industries and professional groups, there is a continuous demand for workers with professional qualifications (commonly known as skilled workers). These qualifications are either related to a recognized education or a relevant academic degree. Naturally, once demand is higher than the available supply of trained individuals, there is a shortage of skilled workers. In an international context, the term "skills shortage" is used for this exact phenomenon.
To genuinely speak of a skills shortage, the demand for workers must persistently exceed the supply of available individuals. This leads to a scarcity situation that can have sustained effects on the respective sector.
Causes of Skills Shortage
Primary reasons for the skills shortage in Germany include demographic changes regarding the population development in the coming decades, particularly concerning age. The aging population contributes to a gradual decline in the number of workforce in the coming years.
While the economic growth in recent years has been significantly boosted by skilled workers from the European Union, this alone cannot compensate for the skills shortage due to the overall aging of the population.
Another cause lies in the changing educational landscape. More and more young people are pursuing high school diplomas and subsequent university education. The skills shortage is not limited to academic fields but even more so affects blue collar professions. Overall, the labor market is encountering a decreasing number of young individuals who, in turn, are less likely to choose professions affected by the skills shortage.
Professions and Affected Industries
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Field
Professions falling under the category of STEM are significantly affected by the skills shortage. Industries related to these fields, such as manufacturing, are growing faster than there are graduates from the corresponding programs.
Another significant area is the healthcare sector, especially professionals in elderly care and nursing. The unfavorable working conditions and low income are the main reasons for the skills shortage. Fewer young people want to pursue a career in healthcare, and many of the already trained professionals eventually switch to other sectors.
The logistics industry also faces a severe shortage of skilled workers, particularly long-distance truck drivers for e-commerce. There is a high demand for these professionals due to the increasing number of people purchasing products online.
The craftsmanship sector is also experiencing a lack of new recruits. Although salaries and career prospects in these professions are considered good, more young people are interested in pursuing higher education rather than a job training career.
Effects of Skills Shortage
A shortage of skilled workers in a company makes it more challenging for the business to innovate and grow. A deficiency of trained personnel poses a problem for a company's competitiveness. Missing skilled workers make it difficult to accept profitable contracts and meet supply chain demands. In serious cases, companies have to reduce their production and service offerings.
Companies often attempt to offset the shortage of skilled workers through overtime. The expectation to consistently work beyond contractual hours often creates a negative work atmosphere and dissatisfied employees. The work-life balance is significantly disrupted, and employers become less attractive. Resignations follow, creating a vicious cycle.
Effective Measures against Skills Shortage
Companies can do a lot to counteract the skills shortage. Proactive measures are essential to foster opportunities within the organization, making it attractive to employees and appealing to new skilled workers.
The most important and effective option for companies is to create conditions that enable employees to acquire their professional qualifications within the organization. Investing in the education and training of their employees ensures that a potential skills shortage does not arise within the company.
Furthermore, investing in effective marketing concepts to enhance a company's visibility can be beneficial. Worth mentioning everyone speaking about the concept of "Employer Branding" at this point. It focuses on the company as an attractive employer brand that stands out positively from competitors. Over the long term, the costs of recruitment measures can be reduced since there will be an increase in unsolicited applications, and suitable candidate profiles will emerge.
Another point to consider is that an aging workforce reaching retirement can be kept in the workforce longer if options like partial retirement (e.g., age-related reduced work hours) are available. This not only eases the transition into retirement for individuals but also benefits employers by reducing knowledge loss and stabilizing the workforce within the company.