Insights into skill shortages and skill mismatch: Learning from Cedefop’s European skills and jobs survey


Using Cedefop’s 2014 European skills and jobs (ESJ) survey, which covers around 49,000 EU employees, this report investigates the current state of skills shortages and mismatches within the European jobs market. The survey collected information on the match of individual’s skills with those they needed by their jobs at the time they were hired. It reveals that individuals who come back to the jobs market after having spent an extended period of time in unemployment have greater skills gaps than those without interruptions. Data also reveals that a considerable share of the working population already possess the skills needed by their jobs even if these are not evident in their formal qualifications. This is in part due to the fact that people continue to build their skills while in the workforce.

The authors note that a considerable proportion of skill mismatches are the result of a lack of continuous development and deskilling within the workforce. Some new technologies and firms rely on low-skill market strategies, which increase inequalities in pay and training opportunities. Nearly one third of workers in the accommodation, catering and food services, transportation and storage, and social and personal services saw stable or decelerating task complexity since they began their jobs. It is their view that policy makers should focus on the potentially large volume of existing unrecognised and underutilised skills in the labour market, rather than focusing solely on employer difficulties in finding the right skills. In addition, a large share of employer’s hiring difficulties arise due to poor jobs offers and inefficient human resources management. Policy makers must distinguish between skill shortages that can be mediated by publicly funded VET systems from mismatches that can be tackled by a wider set of labour market reforms.

Download the report here