Europe is facing severe labor shortages, especially in certain critical sectors. What are the factors that are causing the labor shortage, and how can companies compete for the top talent? Let’s take a look.

Factors Causing Europe’s Labor Shortage

Post-COVID Europe has seen most unemployment figures return to 2018 levels, and sectors that have historically struggled with vacancies (like construction) have continued to do so. Naturally, industries like healthcare and hospitality are still reeling from the effects of Covid and pandemic restrictions, but there has also been a dramatic shift in worker behaviors, that may affect more and more industries in the coming months and years. Some of the key factors that are still affecting employment include:

  • Reduced movement of people. During the pandemic, travel within Europe was severely restricted, and even people who might have been able to travel for work were discouraged from doing so. This reduced movement of labor within Europe has affected many industries and countries that have historically relied on seasonal migrant labor, from agriculture to hospitality, and it is unclear when movement of people will return to normal.  
  • Systemic skills shortage. The “skill gap” remains an ongoing issue in Europe, dating back at least to the 2008 financial crisis. Even when employers attempt to attract more skilled candidates by offering higher wages, 34% of them still can’t find candidates with the desired skills. Driven by “mega factors” like population aging, globalization, and economic trends, the skill gap promises to continue to affect employment and recruitment, especially in health, engineering, and information and communication technologies.
  • Shifting employment behavior. We have yet to see the full effects of Covid on worker’s desires and behaviors, but we can read the trend pieces every day. The pandemic caused many people to rethink and perhaps permanently change their lifestyles and job choices. Some people left the hospitality and heath industry due to instability or burn-out, and may never return. Some workers left the office environment and have chosen to never return, in many cases moving to other regions entirely. While the full effects of Brexit are beyond the scope of this article, there is currently a trend of people leaving the service and hospitality industry for the transport industry, motivated by a spike in demand and higher wages. Employers are recruiting candidates with new expectations, new experiences, and new demands from the workplace. 

The truth is, employers in a post-Covid Europe are facing many of the same challenges they were in 2019, along with new and higher expectations from highly-skilled workers. It’s going to take more than higher wages to attract and keep the best people in the coming years. 

How to Recruit Top Talent in a Labor Shortage

We’ve already written about how important it is to use your company values to attract talent who share your passion and commitments, and make better matches that increase employee satisfaction and reduce turnover. However, in a tight labor market, employers need to do more. Here are some tips to attract the right candidates and hire the right people, even in a competitive labor market: 

  • Offer long-term growth. Covid caused a great deal of personal, social, and economic instability. Many people are hesitant to accept certain jobs or join certain industries because they are concerned about the long-term stability of the job, and want to make a solid plan for the future. Smart employers will collaborate with job candidates and current employees to help them map out their future prospects and keep them committed to the company. 
  • Rethink your assumptions. If you haven’t yet audited all your recruitment practices to eliminate implicit biases, now is the time. Many people make the unconscious assumption that a good new hire should resemble other people already in the workplace, and these assumptions influence hiring decisions. The right candidate may look different than you expect, come from a different place, or have a different CV than you imagined. Keep an open mind.  
  • Enhance your training. Finding candidates with all the skills you’re looking for is a huge challenge for European employers. However, there are more options than ever before for online and remote learning, on-site teaching, and advanced skills training. In many cases, it’s better to hire the right person, and then train the necessary skills, than it is to hold out for a candidate with the perfect qualifications. 
  • Use a great recruitment firm. Recruitment firms are specialized in finding talented people who may not be reading traditional job listings, but who are open to new opportunities. A great recruiter also knows how to evaluate everything you have to offer, including job location, career potential, industry connections, and more, and connect with talent who is a great fit for your role. Choose a recruitment firm with deep understanding of your industry, who can partner with you for the long term.

If you’re struggling to find the right people in Europe’s tight labor market, contact grapefrute today for more information about how we can help you.