Businesses on all continents are struggling to fill jobs

PARIS: Germany lacks plumbers. The United States needs more postal workers. Australia lacks engineers. In Canada, hospitals are looking for more nurses.

The “great resignation” that countries have experienced since the easing of restrictions linked to the Covid pandemic is not yet over.

Michael Blume, managing director of a software company in eastern Germany, said he had “great difficulty finding workers”.

“Wherever we look, we are short of skilled labor,” Blume, whose company Currentsystem23 is based in eastern Germany, told AFP.

There were 887,000 vacancies in Germany – Europe’s biggest economy – in August, some 108,000 more openings than last year.

“Help Wanted” signs are posted outside restaurants and other businesses in the United States, where there were more than 11 million job openings at the end of July, or two for every job seeker.

“Vacancy rates are very high around the world. Polls and companies say it’s still very difficult to fill positions,” said Ariane Curtis, a Toronto-based economist at research firm Capital Economics.

Countries in Western Europe and North America are particularly struggling to fill jobs, though the problem is also present in Eastern Europe, Turkey and Latin America, Curtis said.

Vacancy rates relative to the unemployed rose sharply in Australia, Canada and Britain at the end of 2021 from pre-pandemic levels, according to an OECD report in July.

– Shops closing early –

Shortages have persisted even as the global economy has begun to slow since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year.

This affects a wide range of sectors: from the lack of teachers in Texas to the lack of staff in the hospitality industry in Italy or the Canadian health care system.

Shortages have forced businesses to adapt.

Pharmacies in the US state of Wisconsin, hospital wards in the Canadian province of Alberta and restaurants on Australia’s Sunshine Coast had to close for parts of the day, according to local reports.

White collar workers are also in short supply.

Clément Verrier, who co-runs an executive search firm in Paris, said it was difficult to find companies looking to hire. Now it’s the opposite.

“We are seeing an unprecedented number of candidates disappearing in the middle of the recruitment process, without calling back,” Verrier said.

– “Change of mindset” –

Aging populations were already starting to cause shortages before Covid, but the problem exploded with the pandemic.

The factors behind the phenomenon are multiple: some people have chosen to retire early, while others have struggled with long Covid symptoms. Others are simply fed up with poor working conditions or low wages.

Other factors include a drastic drop in immigration due to lockdowns, people leaving cities and workers seizing the moment to rethink their career choices.

“The pandemic has caused a fundamental shift in mindset and priorities, and employers aren’t following that shift,” said Bonnie Dowling, expert associate partner at McKinsey, a global consultancy that conducted research on the wave of resignations in the world.

To keep or woo workers, companies offer higher wages. Other benefits that have emerged include the ability to work from home, “bonus” vacations and more personal days.

Some countries are relaxing their immigration rules to attract more workers.

Germany on Wednesday unveiled plans to make it easier to hold multiple nationalities and facilitate the naturalization of foreigners.

“The big question is whether what we’ve seen over the past few months is going to cool down or not,” said Mike Smith, CEO of Netherlands-based international recruiter Randstad Sourceright.

“From our perspective, we don’t think it’s transitory,” he said.

“We believe this is a structural change in how employees seek to interact with work. The trends continue to show it. The change in worker expectations is here to stay. »-AFP