The crisis has forced millions of workers to seek new jobs but their skills are often not those that employers are seeking, and this skills mismatch is driving up unemployment levels.
News | 04 February 2013
This particularly affects young people, who get most of their training and education before they start working or early in their careers.
Workers in the construction and financial sectors in countries like the United States and Spain were among the first to be hit by the crisis in late 2008 and 2009. When they lost their jobs, they found that sectors which had not been affected did not require the skills they had.
In some cases, workers have relocated to different areas or countries, where jobs are available in their field, as is the case with Spaniards moving to Germany and even Portuguese workers heading to Angola.Some have opted for “occupational downgrading” – taking a job below their previous level of skills – which will lead to increasing numbers of over-qualified workers.The issue of skills mismatches has received particular attention in developed economies as a result of the economic crisis but it is a problem that affects labour markets in all countries.
Skills mismatches can be a transitory phenomenon if dealt with properly. Targeted educational policies can help address the issue by ensuring jobseekers continue to be employed in the more dynamic sectors of the economy.
But as the number of unemployed workers, as well as the length of their unemployment spells increase, it becomes more and more difficult to tackle the problem.
The challenge for countries is to link skills to productivity, employment, and development. And the key is policy coordination and involvement of social partners and key stakeholders in skills’ development.
“We recommend that policy-makers take coordinated action to reduce unemployment, including services to make job searching and matching more effective, like investing in job skills and retraining programs,” says Sparreboom.
“What the crisis has brought into sharp focus is that so that we can get more people back to work,” he concludes.