IndustriAll Europe's Executive Committee has adopted a new position paper on training in the context of the European Year of Skills and in response to a record tight labour market, which is exacerbating the long-standing problem of skills shortages. The position comes on top of a previous position on training, published in 2021, in which we already warned of serious skills shortages.

The paper presents an analysis of skills shortages in Europe, focusing on the situation in industrial sectors. Drawing on recent reports by Eurofound, the OECD, the IMF, CEDEFOP and the European Commission, the paper points to the poor quality and unattractiveness of jobs as the main causes of the current record shortages. In line with the recommendations of these reports, industriAll Europe calls for wage increases and improved working conditions to address the shortages.

Our position paper stresses that migration is not a sustainable solution to the current shortages. Migration risks exacerbating the brain drain already plaguing Eastern Europe and would widen the already wide gap between Member States. Unions insist that where labour migration is used as a short-term solution to skills shortages, it must be accompanied by clear rules to protect migrant workers from exploitation and ensure equal pay for equal work.

IndustriAll Europe's position on training follows a holistic approach based on industrial policy, employment and social policy, active labour market policy, education and training policy and collective bargaining.

Our main demands include:

  • An individual right to training, collectively negotiated and preferably guaranteed by collective agreement, to ensure access to training for all.
  • Significant public and private investment in vocational education and training (VET). Social conditionality on all public investment to ensure that it only funds the creation of quality jobs where collective bargaining is respected and training is guaranteed.
  • Full trade union involvement in all skills initiatives/strategies developed at company, local, sectoral and national levels.
  • High quality training leading to qualifications that are validated (quality assurance) and recognised (a qualifications framework comparable between Member States).
  • A commitment to skills forecasting at sectoral/regional level (e.g. local skills observatories) and at company level (e.g. strategic skills planning, including career guidance).

Isabelle Barthès, industriAll Europe Deputy General Secretary said:

“According to a recent ETUI study on job vacancy rates and wages in 22 EU countries, industries with the worst labour shortages pay 9% less on average than sectors where it’s easier to recruit. Although we all agree that there is no easy fix to tackle the skills and labour shortages, the results of this study clearly illustrate that low pay is one of the main drivers of Europe’s recruitment challenges. So employers need to offer quality jobs to end the damaging labour shortages. They also need to invest in their workforce and provide quality training, which is far from being a reality on the ground.”

Judith Kirton-Darling, industriAll Europe Deputy General Secretary said:

“Over 25 million manufacturing, mining and energy workers in Europe will need retraining or upskilling to meet the challenges of the green and digital transitions in the next decade as jobs change, are lost and created – a scale and pace which demands strong frameworks to ensure that Just Transitions are guaranteed. We can anticipate these changes if workers are involved from the start as actors of their own destinies with rights to training and employment security.”

Read the full position here: EN, DE, FR