This recent paper from the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) looks at European labour shortages and what that brings with them.
It notes that:
“Digitalisation and technological change are increasing labour market tightness for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and IT occupations. With demand for people with a university or higher VET qualification increasing after the pandemic, the hiring challenges employers face have become even more intense.”
The paper points out that:
“Jobs upgrading is mirrored in projected employment shifting away from sectors such as agriculture, basic manufacturing, distribution and retail towards service sectors. At the same time, the twin – digital and green – transition is driving employment trends up to 2035.”
This is what we are seeing here in Australia too and this is what the recent Government White Paper we highlighted recently also points out.
Cedefop suggests that:
“Job openings will be highest for high-skilled non-manual occupations such as business and administration professionals, legal, social and cultural professionals, and science and engineering professionals. At the lower end of the labour market, occupations such as clerks, service workers and shop and market sales workers, craft and related trades workers, and skilled agricultural and fishery workers, are expected to lose market share.”
In addition, “the ageing population and workforce means that, in the run up to 2035, job growth and most job openings will emerge because of replacement demand.”
The digital revolution will make jobs more ‘high tech’
The paper points out that:
“Technological innovation, particularly via digitalisation, automation, connectivity, and blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), transforms jobs and skill needs. Demand for professionals in the computer programming sector is expected to grow, particularly for highly skilled profiles such as IT software and application developers and analysts.”
“Automation, robotisation and other forms of digitalisation transform skill needs in all types of occupations and at all qualification levels. Digital transformation will shift upwards the level of digital skills employers ask for; even in low-skilled occupations, where no special training was needed in the past (such as agriculture), the demand for medium and high-level digital skills (e.g. using sensors-based technology) will grow.”
“Cedefop’s skills forecast anticipates strong job growth for highly skilled tech workers, such as ICT professionals, up to 2035. The employment shares of technicians are expected to decline, because of automation, labour market tightness leading to outsourcing, and because the population becoming better digitally skilled supresses the need for service provision to support advanced technologies.”
Recruitment may be an issue
The paper points out that “alongside lacking skills, the ‘great resignation’ workforce ageing and companies adopting new digital work and learning practices also underpin recruitment bottlenecks.” In addition,
“The finding that jobs of workers in shortage occupations give them more discretion in organising and planning their work, learning, and adapting to unexpected situations or varying tasks, suggests that the lack of such skills may explain why hiring difficulties occur.”
Finally, recruitment difficulties in highly skilled occupations “could be substantial when, among the growing group of highly qualified young people, not enough have the specific job requirements (qualifications or experience) occupations require.”
And for VET?
Happily, for VET, the paper concludes the sector has a major role to play in addressing current and future skills shortages, “because its close connection to the world of work makes it possible to offer the right mix of technical and soft skills, while fostering innovation and project- and team-based learning.”