MET industries are facing today the increasingly aggravated challenge of labour shortages that are due to the combination of multiple economic and structural factors, including the demographic situation with less active people, the ageing of the European population etc. However, labour shortages also respond to recent trends and changes in the labour market such as, for example, people not returning to work after the different COVID lockdowns, migrant workers who returned to their country of origin during the pandemic and that have not come back to Europe etc.
Cement considers that tackling increasing labour shortages in order to bring and keep people in the MET industries requires:
Putting in place well designed legal migration policies
Well-designed legal migration policies are an important tool to address labour shortages. For this reason, we consider that the EU and the Member States should work together to coordinate legal migration policies in order to attract third country nationals to Europe in an unbureaucratic and easy manner.
In this respect Ceemet welcomes the so-called “skills and talent package” that was adopted in April 2022, and which contains a mix of legal and operational measures intended to address labour shortages.
Investing in active labour market policies
The high number of inactive people is considerably reducing the “available labour pool”. In 2021, for example, the unmet demand for employment exceeded 14% across the EU. Further, it is important to note that in some countries above 30% of the population is inactive: with people available to work and wanting to work but not looking for a job.
In this context, Ceemet advocates for:
- Bringing women back to the labour market
We firmly believe that high quality, affordable and accessible childcare facilities are an effective tool to raise women´s incentives to work. For this reason, we urge Member States to follow the Council Recommendation on early childhood education and care: the Barcelona targets for 2030 (formally adopted in December 2022).
- Integrating disabled people into the labour market
We call on national policy makers to put in place the adequate policies in order to encourage the integration of persons with disabilities into the labour market.
- Supporting companies at all levels in their recruitment procedures
These type of measures are certainly an effective tool to increase employment participation without raising the labour costs for employers.
- Putting in place effective job-to-job transitions measures
National policy makers should urgently design and deploy effective job-to-job transition measures, specially targeted at workers most affected by the twin transitions.
Boosting mobility within the EU
Bureaucracy should be lifted in order to enhance mobility at all levels both for the free movement of workers and of services. We therefore advocate for any initiative intended to facilitate labour mobility and improve access to information for both workers and companies on the rights and obligations related to working in another EU country.
Rethinking retirement policies
Member States should engage in an in-depth debate on “retirement policies”, in order to adapt them accordingly to the evolving situation of the labour markets and the financial situation of the retirement systems.
Investing and ensuring the adequate health and safety conditions in the workplace
MET companies have been investing for many years in ensuring safe working conditions and protecting their employees from harm. In an ageing society, it is imperative for companies, particularly SMEs, to keep their skilled workers at the workplace for as long as possible. Health & Safety in the workplace is an important policy priority for Ceemet.
Promoting a greener and more digitalised industry
MET industries undoubtedly enjoy a competitive advantage, as youngsters want to work for “highly digitalised” and greener industries and our companies offer plenty of (job) opportunities in these fields.
Our industries should, thus, continue to promote a greener and digitalised industry in order to attract young people to work in our companies.
Isabel Sobrino Maté
Senior Policy Advisor