Skill shortages are among the main problems for small and medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the European Union, according to the new Eurobarometer survey.
The same indicates that the challenge of skill shortages has increased over the years and now encompasses all bloc’s countries and all sectors of the economy.
Eurobarometer’s recent report notes that skill shortages are identified by 53 per cent of micro companies, 65 per cent of small companies and 68 per cent of medium-sized companies.
Looking back over the preceding two years, 61 per cent of micro companies and 80 per cent of medium-sized companies found it difficult to find and hire staff with the right skills.
Small and medium-sized Enterprises are often subject to a skills shortage for technically trained staff such as lab workers and mechanics, among others.
Nearly half, or 42 per cent, of SMEs in Europe indicated that they were subject to shortages of qualified staff.
This is particularly problematic for SMEs in the industry sector and manufacturing, with 47 per cent and 50 per cent of SMEs claiming problems in hiring relevant technical staff.
The same has revealed that skill shortages affect SMEs in several ways, leading to increased workload for existing staff, the loss of sales or sales opportunities and reduced profitability and growth.
Just one in seven SMEs hire staff from other European Union countries as a way to address skills shortages, in spite of the fact that this percentage is higher for bigger small and medium-sized Enterprises.
The majority of the SMEs expressed relative satisfaction regarding the policy support they received in managing skill shortages while indicating further room for improvement.
Among the policies that would help them, micro companies mostly mentioned fiscal incentives (39 per cent) and direct subsidies (28 per cent), while 38 per cent of medium-sized companies mentioned training for upskilling as most useful.
A survey provided by Eurobarometer on September 12 this year revealed that 95 per cent of all SMEs say that it is very (82 per cent) or moderately (13 per cent) significant for their business model to have workers with the required skills.
In order to facilitate the recruitment of staff with the required skills, SMEs considered they need better cooperation with public employment services (58 per cent), better tools for assessing the skills of applicants (49 per cent), and better tools for assessing the company’s skills needs (46 per cent).