To address the effects of population ageing, the EU will need to close the gender gap and increase the participation of young and older workers in the labour market, but mobility and migration also have a key role to play. This is the main finding of the joint Commission-OECD report on Matching Economic Migration with Labour Market Needs published today.
Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion László Andor commented “This joint report with the OECD offers valuable guidance on the serious demographic challenges ahead. Ensuring fair labour mobility within the EU, improving training to close skills gaps, ensuring decent working conditions to workers and better integration of non-EU workers can be part of the solution to population ageing and future skill shortages in the European labour market”.
Commissioner for Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström said: “It is a reality today that many EU countries cannot meet their labour needs with a purely home-grown workforce. The question is not whether we need migrants but how to make the most of migration. To reap the benefits of migration we need open, transparent, realistic policies that are active on integration and strong political leadership”.
Director for Employment Labour and Social Affairs of the OECD, Stefano Scarpetta said: “It may surprise people that we talk about matching economic migration with labour market needs at a time when many European countries face persistent unemployment and a growing backlash against migration. Yet Europe would already be in better shape with a more efficient use of migrants’ skills. Successful integration of migrants and their children, and more efficient labour migration management systems responding to real needs, are necessary to strengthen social cohesion as much as they are to increase Europe’s competitiveness”.
Demographic decline and skills shortages
In Europe the working-age population (15-64) is projected to decline by 7.5 million (-2.2%) between 2013 and 2020, while it will grow in the same proportion in the OECD area as a whole. Under a scenario with zero net migration, the working-age population of the 28 EU countries would be expected to decline even more, by up to 11.7 million (-3.5%) by 2020.
The implications are not only demographic: because the labour market is dynamic and occupations are changing, skills shortages and skills mismatches will become crucial issues in the EU. According to Eurofound’s 2013 European Company Survey, despite the slack in the labour market, 40% of EU companies have difficulties finding workers with the right set of skills. Overall, available evidence suggests that in most OECD countries labour needs over the next decade will be concentrated in specific occupations – largely requiring high skills, but also at intermediate skill levels.
Against this background, the joint EU-OECD report outlines three complementary policy responses:
- Fostering intra-EU labour mobility to ensure a better allocation of skills
- Better integrating non-EU migrants to ensure a smarter use of their skills
- Attracting the skilled migrants needed on the EU’s labour market
via EUROPA – PRESS RELEASES – Press release – Employment: report shows worker mobility key to tackle EU demographic and skills challenges.
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