“In Luxembourg, in 2022, 76% of companies with at least five employees said they were experiencing difficulties recruiting staff.” This striking figure was the starting point for a study by the Luxembourg institute of socio-economic research (Liser) into the link between working conditions and the shortage of labour in occupations that do not require a university degree. A lack of applicants is the reason given by 72% of companies having difficulty recruiting for unskilled positions, says the report. Why are these types of positions struggling to attract jobseekers?
In the Liser policy brief, conducted as part of a public-private partnership project supported by the National Research Fund (FNR), and in collaboration with the Employment Development Agency (Adem), the institute identifies five groups of occupations not requiring a university degree that are facing a labour shortage. These are:
—skilled building and related trades, except electricians
—skilled trades in metalworking and mechanical engineering
—skilled craft and printing trades
—electrical and electrical engineering trades
Pay conditions out of the question
Logically enough, the first condition that comes to mind is salary. Liser studied data from the Structure of Earnings Survey, the latest available wave of which dates from 2018 (and which covers residents and cross-border commuters). It compares the in-demand roles listed above with data for similar occupations--but which are not in short supply--in the International Classification of Occupations (Isco).
Firstly, the study finds that gross hourly pay is fairly identical in these two groups. Secondly, that salary levels are less dependent on overtime and shift work and that the proportion of annual bonuses and allowances in annual remuneration--for the five in-demand roles listed above--is slightly lower on average. It therefore draws the following conclusion: “Salary conditions in occupational groups in shortage are no less attractive than those in similar occupations that are not in shortage.”
It’s all about job quality
Once the question of salary level has been set aside, Liser looked at several aspects of job quality: satisfaction with salary, job security, social dialogue, autonomy at work, working climate, training and work-life balance. To do this, it used data for the Grand Region, observing that the number of employees in Luxembourg makes it “impossible” to carry out an analysis by occupation.
It found that only 47% of employees in occupations identified as being in short supply consider that they are paid “appropriately” for their efforts and the work they do, compared to 62% of others. They are also confronted with a greater number of safety risks at work (2.4 risks compared to 1.7 for those working in occupations not identified as being in short supply).
The same applies to job security, working climate, training and work-life balance: employees in occupations facing a labour shortage are worse off than those in occupations not experiencing a shortage. The institute notes no difference in terms of social dialogue or autonomy.
Describing its own work as an “exploratory analysis,” Liser concludes that “the recruitment difficulties faced by companies in Luxembourg are partly due to a shortage of labour.” However, it points out that “having data enabling a more detailed analysis of working conditions by occupation in Luxembourg, rather than by group of occupations, would make it possible to carry out a more precise analysis of the role played by working conditions in explaining the labour shortage in occupations not requiring a university degree.”
This article was originally published in Paperjam. It has been translated and edited for Delano.