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2024 Construction Crisis: Why Europe Can’t Fill Labor Shortages

The manpower mismatch in Europe’s construction sector is still present, accounting for about half of the region’s designated shortage occupations. 


The European Labour Authority released its most recent EURES study on labor surpluses and shortages earlier this month, which supports the claim. Since the financial crisis of 2008, employment in the construction industry has progressively increased. Prior to this, employment in the EU fell by three million jobs between 2008 and 2014. However, it is still less than its 15.3 million peak from 2008. 


The construction industry had the fourth-highest job vacancy rate out of all EU sectors in the second quarter of 2023. According to EURES research, during 2016, the JVR in construction likewise climbed faster than in all other EU sectors. Why are there labor mismatches in Europe’s building industry? Five important elements were looked at in the recent study. The elements are as follows:

Age structure

Like many other sectors worldwide, the construction business is beginning to confront a serious issue with the number of workers “aging out” of the field. For instance, the report estimates that 10% of Sweden’s construction workforce will retire by 2028. By 2027, it is anticipated that 20,000 skilled workers in Belgium will retire.


Regarding the Cedefop Skills Forecast, it is important to note that although employment in the occupation of 88,000 jobs will expand somewhat between 2022 and 2035, the net requirement will increase significantly due to the retirement of current workers. Over that period, 4,127,000 individuals in Europe are expected to exit the occupation. This means that between 2022 and 2035, the sector will need a net gain of 4,215,000 workers.

The sector’s attractiveness 

Construction companies have historically discouraged potential newcomers with their working conditions. Physical demands, chemical exposure, repeated motions requiring uncomfortable positions, and frequently having to work outside are among the reasons mentioned, according to the report. Additionally, it mentioned that exposure to greater temperatures and UV radiation could be a result of climate change. It was noted that there has been a major improvement in working conditions in the sector, including better health and safety procedures, greater wages, and innovative task-making.


The European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) reported in 2023 that despite significant progress in the sector, the industry’s reputation still lags behind its advancements. Youth enthusiasm for pursuing a profession in construction is low. The warning stated that the industry’s bad image did not significantly improve despite technological advances.


According to the study, a sector’s appeal may also be impacted by high rates of self-employment and subcontracting. However, it did point out that workers in the building industry are less likely to experience stress than those in other industries, according to a Eurofound (2022) employment quality index.


Additional Read: The Departure of More than 500,000 Workers Put the UK Economy in Danger

Organization of employment 

A high percentage of self-employment and temporary work are caused by the sector’s multi-tiered subcontracting structure, which fragments the workforce and makes it challenging to negotiate or plan for the introduction of better wages and working conditions, according to the report. As to the report, a comparatively elevated percentage of employment in small and medium-sized organizations (SMEs) can also imply that these businesses have limited access to information regarding the procurement of personnel.

Not utilizing the full potential of the labor pool. 

The survey observed that the building sector does not fully utilize the workforce pool. The absence of women in the field was especially brought to light. Women held eight percent of all construction jobs in 2008. Only two percentage points separated that number’s 2022 growth to 10.4%. Comparatively, 46.2% of all sectors are made up of women. Only 15.6% of all jobs are held by women, even in Luxembourg, the nation with the greatest percentage of women working in construction. 


The Women Can Build report, which was cited in the report, stated that work-life balance is not conducive to the needs of women who have caregiving responsibilities, that PPE is frequently not made with women in mind, and that women may be expected to behave in a certain way in the construction industry in order to be accepted.


According to a separate report, some nations have a “degree of dependence” on laborers from other nations. In 2021, 855,650 “posted” workers—that is, people who were employed in construction outside of their place of origin—were found throughout Europe, according to administrative data from Europe. Germany was the principal beneficiary.

The talents that are available and the evolving need for skills

The report pointed out that as the world becomes greener and more digitally connected, the skills needed in the building sector will probably shift as well. Because there is a need to refurbish existing building stock and reduce the sector’s carbon footprint, the European Green Deal is predicted to have a “substantial” influence on employment in the construction sector. Currently, just 1% of buildings receive energy-efficient renovations annually; nevertheless, the European Commission hopes to at least quadruple renovation rates over the next ten years.


A net gain of 204,000 jobs is predicted as a result of EU climate change policies between 2019 and 2030, according to a recent report. However, given the sector’s current labor shortage, it is unclear whether this level of employment can actually be achieved. Using examples such as BIM, drones, smart sensors, 3D printing, and mobile technologies, it made the case that technology may lower the labor intensity of manufacturing while also making it more appealing to potential employees. However, it pointed out that uptake in the industry has been quite low thus far. 


The 2024 construction crisis in Europe has underscored a critical need for skilled labor. This is where Dynamic Staffing Services (DSS) step in and bridge the gap. With over four decades of expertise, we have a proven track record of sourcing top-tier talent for the construction industry. By leveraging our extensive network and in-depth understanding of local and international markets, we effectively address the labor shortages faced by European construction companies. 


Our streamlined recruitment process ensures that businesses can quickly find and hire the skilled workers they need, minimizing project delays and boosting productivity. As Europe continues to navigate the challenges of labor shortages, DSS stands out as a reliable partner dedicated to meeting the evolving demands of the construction industry and contributing to its overall stability and progress. To know more, contact us today at +91-11-40410000 or enquiry@dss-hr.com.

Visit our website today: Dynamic Staffing Services!

About the author

Headquartered in Dubai, with offices in 13 countries spread across UK, Europe, Middle East and South Asia, Dynamic Staffing Services is an industry leader within its niche space of international recruitment. Over the last 45 years, DSS has successfully places over 450 000 candidates in the engineering, healthcare, hospitality, IT and manufacturing sector. Please visit us as www.dss-hr.com to learn more about us. We pride ourselves in being an ethical recruitment services provider following the most stringiest regulations towards code of conduct. We recruit talent from Eastern Europe, India, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Africa, Egypt, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia among other nationalities and place them into 24+ countries. Each year we give jobs to about 12 000 candidates.

A part of the 1500+ people strong Dynamic group, our sister company Dynamic World Education Community focuses on Study Abroad, by helping students find the right education (www.dynamicwec.net), Dynamic immigration focuses on providing immigration services (https://www.dss-hr.com/canada) to families wanting to move to Canada & Altudo focuses on software development and enhancing digital customer experiences (https://www.altudo.co )

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