Craftspeople shortage

Trades sector: ‘State should step back, collaborate with private businesses more’

The Chamber of Trades said that, across all sectors, the number of missing tradespeople in Luxembourg stands at around 3,800--20% more than in 2019. Photo: Shutterstock

The Chamber of Trades said that, across all sectors, the number of missing tradespeople in Luxembourg stands at around 3,800--20% more than in 2019. Photo: Shutterstock

The Chambre des Métiers, Luxembourg’s trades chamber, on 10 February presented the results of a survey among local businesses to identify how to stave off a further loss of qualified craftspeople in the private sector. Delano talked to the chamber’s director Tom Wirion about steps to take.

Tom WirionTom Wirion had told Delano about the 1,700 artisans missing to ensure the grand duchy’s energy transition in November 2022. Other numbers from the same survey were presented in February 2023: here, the chamber had found that, across all sectors, the number of missing tradespeople increased to around 3,800--20% more than in 2019.

Of these workers, 43% should replace existing workers who are retiring from their position, while 57% would cover jobs yet to be created. In a breakdown of sought-after profiles, the Chamber of Trades said that of the so-called DAP [Diplôme d’Aptitude Professionelle, or professional competence degree] was the most needed training course, with 44% of the 3,800 ideally having completed it. 23% should have a CCP, or professional capacity certificate, while 15% should have a technician’s diploma or technical secondary school certificate, 10% a master craftsman certificate (“BTS”), and 8% a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Deeply-rooted issues

For its director, many improvements need to be undertaken. The issue is structural after all, he told Delano, and needs an in-depth solution. It starts at school, where more should be done to not just promote trades among pupils, but also set up better bridges for students who would like to undertake higher education after completing their apprenticeship. The country suffers from “an academisation of professions,” said Wirion.

The general shortage of human resources mentioned above highlights another change the chamber wants to see happen. “We have to take workers from abroad,” said Wirion, “there is no other way around it.” Requirements and regulation around the entry into Luxembourg’s labour market should be relaxed and procedures sped up. This sentiment has been brought up recently by a petition too, which wants accompanying spouses of third country citizens to have easier access to jobs in the country.

Competition too strong

A few months ahead of the communal and national elections, the chamber demands more campaigning and visibility for existing training opportunities (co-funded by the state) for tradespeople, saying that only a third of companies access this co-funding--used to train existing craftspeople up. In addition, the trades chamber wants to see the state participation in the co-financing program increase, and wants the processing of such demands digitalised.

People are paid well in the private sector, but they can’t keep up with the salary offered by the State.”

Tom Wiriondirector generalChamber of Trades

Lastly, the chamber of trades wants the government to “step back a little bit,” Wirion said. The state is the country’s biggest employer, and hires overqualified craftspeople in some cases--craftspeople that therefore leave the private sector. “People are paid well in the private sector, but businesses can’t keep up with the salary offered by the state,” said Wirion. Instead of hiring qualified workers for separate departments, the government should think about collaborating with private businesses, allowing them to retain their staff.

Delano contacted the public service ministry, which stated: “as far as the state sector is concerned, the state has an internal need for craftsmen, particularly in the education sector (training of future craftsmen, for example) or for specific trades for the road administration.”

According to the chamber, private companies “are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of a genuine talent retention and/or loyalty policy to ensure the sustainability of their activities,” relying on actions like improving the work environment, wages or schedule of their staff, but “can’t keep up” with the country’s biggest employer, says Wirion.