Skilled professionals: the new industrial odyssey

1 de December de 2023

  • The lack of professionals threatens to become the next bottleneck in many sectors. Those most affected: those linked to technical professions. More than 40% of technology companies have difficulties in tackling projects and this creates serious competitiveness problems.
  • The solution is not only to look for staff from abroad, but companies are implementing different recruitment strategies to help alleviate this need, including in-house training and talent retention programmes.

In this article we tell you how the lack of qualified professionals is affecting companies in the industrial-technological sector and what measures they can take to reduce the gap.

Trends in the industrial labour market

The industrial sector is undergoing significant changes in its human capital. The demand for specialised skills, driven by technological evolution, is transforming the way companies seek and retain talent.

In Spain alone, the industrial sector will need over the next three years to incorporate more than 90,000 professionals with expertise in data and Artificial Intelligence to be able to carry out their projects and compete at an international level.

For this reason, rather than looking for talent from outside, the challenge for companies in the short term is to train their workers to close this gap, generating a transformation from within the organisations through in-company training plans.

Similarly, at national level, other sectors such as the metal industry need around 150,000 employees trained in professions such as welders, pipe fitters, boilermakers and the like, in order to be able to tackle projects and maintain a competitive position at international level.

Autonomous Communities such as Galicia estimate the needs of this sector at 1,500 direct jobs and 800 indirect jobs. According to the Galician Metal and Associated Technologies Association, Asime, organiser of the Mindtech fair: “We are in an unprecedented situation in our industry, companies are surviving with their own staff, but often have difficulties in taking on new projects”.

How is it possible to reduce this employment gap?

Some of the most effective measures are the promotion of specific training plans, promoted by public administrations and companies in their own right. These training plans include training actions demanded by companies in the sector and the needs for professional skills linked to the performance of certain jobs.

Likewise, the social partners, such as business associations, play an important role in implementing job training programmes and in communicating the needs of the sector to public bodies, in order to reach a general consensus on actions and thus achieve greater labour market insertion of the profiles in demand.

Finally, it is worth highlighting the key role played by Dual Vocational Training centres, i.e. training that combines theory and practice throughout the cycle with the aim of increasing labour market insertion, bringing together educational centres, students and companies. This practice, promoted in Germany and replicated in Spain in 2012, is presented as the future of jobs; in fact, the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training puts the number of professionals in demand with this training at 60%.

In practical terms and in view of the demands of the industrial sector, training linked to STEM professions is in demand by 40% of the student body. A clear sign that the world of work is constantly changing in terms of employment needs, marked by demographic, ecological and digital transitions. In this situation, government-sponsored training, in-house training and dual training centres are some of the most appropriate measures to reduce the employment gap.

What is Europe doing?

The European Commission warns that the worst is yet to come, emphasising the shortage of skilled professionals in construction, health and new technologies.

The main factor behind this generalised lack of professionals is the negative demographic trend. The European Union points out that the measures must therefore be long-term, as the problem will be exacerbated in the future by the ageing of Europe’s population.

To weather the storm, Europe is already launching initiatives, such as the allocation of 64.8 billion euros from the EU budget and NextGeneration funds. The aim is to support Member States’ employment policies and to encourage the removal of barriers to labour market entry by improving working conditions and financial incentives to promote skilled labour migration between EU countries. It remains to be seen whether these measures will be necessary to tackle a problem that is already endemic on the “old” European continent.