Skills shortages are a serious problem for majority of EU SMEs, Eurobarometer shows

new Eurobarometer survey released today finds that skills shortages are one of the most serious problems for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the EU. The challenge of skills shortages has grown over the years and now encompasses all EU Member States and all sectors of the economy.

The survey is a useful tool in understanding the impact of skills shortages on SMEs, and will feed into the Commission’s policy making. Among other things, it will inform the implementation of the SME relief package that was adopted in September 2023 and stipulates various actions to improve the skills situation for SMEs in the EU. The survey also complements another recently published Eurobarometer study which, among other things, focuses on the training and skilling activities of businesses.

Today’s Eurobarometer 537 study on ‘SMEs and skills shortages’ was initiated in the context of the European year of skills. It was carried out between September and October 2023 in the 27 EU Member States as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, North Macedonia, Turkey, the United States, Canada and Japan. More than 19 350 companies (both SMEs and large companies) were interviewed via telephone.

Following today’s publication, the survey will be presented at the EU´s annual SME assembly which takes place from 13 to 15 November in Bilbao, Spain and is the EU´s flagship event for SMEs, bringing together hundreds of policy makers.

Thierry Breton, Commissioner for the Internal Market said: “Skills shortages are a growing problem for the European economy. The Commission is already working on addressing skills shortages in key strategic sectors like batteries or other net zero technologies. This study will contribute to our understanding of how skills shortages affect SMEs, which represent 98% of the European economy, in view of improving their overall competitiveness.”

More information is available in the press release.

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