Most European employers stop spending on skills, training – survey

27 Apr 2012

Eighty-six per cent of European employers have cut or frozen spending on skills and training in the last 12 months despite being concerned about skills shortages, a new survey by Accenture suggests.

The survey of 500 senior decision makers from European businesses, government agencies and civil society organisations reveals only 18pc of companies and bodies plan to increase spending on skills and training over the next year.

Yet, 43pc of them face at least moderate skills shortages and 72pc of respondents say Europe’s businesses, policy makers and civil society organisations need to increase investment in this area.

“There’s a double paradox in that European businesses are cutting back on skills development at the very time when they should invest more; and skills shortages are persisting in spite of a very large pool of unused talent here and across the world,” said Mark Spelman, managing director, Strategy, Accenture. 

“Employers recognise the need for counter-cyclical investment in Europe’s human capital, but are struggling to find solutions. Getting Europe’s skills markets to work better would unlock new enterprise, economic growth and job creation.” 

If Europe’s annual GDP growth rate was 0.5pc (more than the zero growth forecast by the European Commission for the EU in 2012), it would take until 2019 for Europe to restore employment levels last seen in 2008, according to Accenture analysis in the report on the survey. It would require 2pc annual GDP growth to reach pre-crisis levels of employment by 2014.

Among the report’s key recommendations are the following:

Actions for employers:

  • Invest in data and analytics to profile internal talent and track the impact of employers’ active support for these people.
  • Tailor support to different groups within the labour market, including the provision of flexible working options to encourage older people and mothers to re-enter the workforce.
  • Increase job rotations in organisations, across borders and create networks to develop talent among companies in the same sector.
  • Build partnerships between small and large firms within supply chains to improve skills standards and relevance (cited by 34pc of decision makers as important).

Actions for policy makers:

  • Improve certification to improve common recognition of skills and qualifications across Europe (cited by 55pc of decision makers as important).
  • Simplify complex regulation with respect to attracting and retaining global talent into Europe (cited by 59pc of decision makers as important).
  • Support the creation of partnerships between businesses and educational establishments to accelerate the way skills development can be better attuned to changing business needs (64pc called for more business-university alliances).
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