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Employment: report shows lower skilled workers face increasing difficulties to find a job

23/06/2014 Employment: report shows lower skilled workers face increasing difficulties to find a job

Low-skilled workers encounter increasing difficulties to find a job, face lower job stability and are out-competed by medium-skilled workers even in elementary occupations. In contrast, job opportunities are growing in some high-skilled professions. These are the main findings of the European Vacancy and Recruitment Report 2014 published today.

The report also highlights the increase in temporary and part-time work during the crisis and underlines the need to better support school-to-work transitions, to decrease segmentation of the labour markets and to up-skill jobseekers, particularly the low qualified.

The Vacancy Report analyses the diverging nature of employment in EU Member States during the recession.

It identifies three clusters of countries according to their labour market conditions:

  • countries worst hit by the recession (such as Greece, Spain and Portugal);
  • best performers during the crisis (such as Austria, Sweden and Germany);
  • countries (such as Hungary, Poland and Slovakia) characterised by labour market shortages in certain high-skilled professions.

Key findings:

  • Employment: at 218 million, average EU employment in 2012 was 2.6% less than in 2008. Only five countries (Austria, Belgium, Germany, Malta and Sweden) have recovered both their pre-crisis GDP and employment levels.
  • Vacancies and hiring: the number of vacancies went down by 19% and hirings by 14% on average between 2008 and 2012, with considerable variation between countries. In particular, there was a sharp decline in people recruited in eastern and southern Member States.
  • Young jobseekers: young people with low qualifications were worst affected by the crisis - hiring fell by one third (-31%) comparing the second quarter in 2013 with 2008.
  • Types of contracts: temporary and non-standard contracts rose between 2008 and 2012. In 2012, 58% of all hiring was through temporary contracts, most of them involuntary, showing that jobseekers are forced to accept temporary or part-time positions.
  • Occupational demand: occupations with higher level skills largely dominate the fastest growing professions. Software and sales professionals, as well as personal care workers and nurses in the health services show robust growth in employment. Jobs requiring low to intermediate skills, in particular those requiring manual skills, were among those with the largest decline in employees between 2011 and 2012. The fall in employee numbers was particularly sharp in the construction sector (-17% on average in the EU, but -50% in Greece, Ireland, Lithuania and Spain) and in manufacturing industry (-10% on average in the EU, but -20% or more in the same countries).
  • Education requirements: the share of hiring for the low qualified is contracting across all major occupational groups, including in 'elementary occupations' (-4% between 2008 and 2014). This is particularly the case in the Baltic countries and even more so in Portugal.


The findings of the report highlight the need for Member States to implement policy initiatives designed to better support jobseekers, such as the Youth Guarantee.

Funding from EU Structural Funds is available to help Member States to address the economic and social challenges Europe faces between now and 2020, including more than €80 billion (in current prices) to be invested in human capital via the European Social Fund.