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Where are the Skill Gaps in Europe?

Posted by Kirsten, Michael at Friday, 12/07/2012 3:04 am
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The eurozone may be a tough employment market for those with little experience, but there are still great opportunities for skilled individuals. In fact, there are significant skills gaps in the region, and demonstrating that you have these can help you find a great job in a less than buoyant market.

Research into employers' satisfaction with graduate hires has found that the skills in greatest demand but lowest supply across the euro region are:

- Communication/literacy
- Analysis, decision-making & strategic thinking
- Technical skills
- Management/leadership

Time and again, employers in the region cite the importance of employees demonstrating a global mind-set—experience and transferrable skills that help organizations bridge geographical divides. Yet, for new entrants to the employment market, such as graduates or those changing careers, competency in these 'soft' skills can take significant extra effort to prove, but it's well worth the efforts you'll make. After all, there are some long-term trends that are driving a shortening supply of these skills, even in a market with excess labor.

Communication & literacy: businesses are using an increasing number of communication channels, including email, web conferencing and social media, which is increasing the pressure on mid- to senior-level executives to develop a communications approach that translates effectively across borders. More often, emerging leaders need to understand and engage across different cultural contexts and be able to respond to the need to communicate quickly and regularly. Surveys of employers across the region suggest that employers are experiencing growing difficulty in finding candidates who can effectively communicate their ideas and opinions to others.

Analysis, decision-making & strategic skills: more complex regulatory frameworks and corporate structures, as well as the fast pace of the commercial environment are perhaps demanding more of employees. However, there is a sense among employers that the focus on attaining qualifications and core technical skills has drawn attention away from some of the fundamentals for employability. Increasingly, employees need to be able to think laterally, to bring disparate information and data together, and to make sense of consistent patterns amid chaotic and face-paced, ever-present change.

Technical skills:
higher level technical skills are becoming increasingly scarce in the research and development fields of the IT sector, as well as the biotech, energy and manufacturing sectors. This is a broad area of need and varies considerably across industry and country. For graduates, technical capability in one of these fields is likely to open more doors. For more senior leaders, the answer may lie more in demonstrating a solid understanding of the required technology— if not actual experience in building or operating it—in order to effectively lead technical and executional teams.

People management and leadership: tenure and age does not make the manager—and the growing discontent from employees globally about leadership performance is now resonating on the hiring and recruitment agenda. Poor management increases turnover, and this is something organizations cannot afford. Demonstrating strong leadership ability is no longer as easy as proving you’ve managed a team in the past. Employers want and need proof of influence, negotiating skills and the ability to lead through change and uncertainty. In the EU there is also a need for more people who are culturally literate and can harness the power and natural creative energy that diverse workforces can bring.

This skill gaps analysis is part of the European Career Guide from Kelly Services. You can download a free version here.

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