Week after week, newspapers issue a stream of hopeful headlines: Microsoft, PayPal, Fujitsu and scores of other companies are expanding their investments in Ireland, creating thousands of jobs as unemployment hovers near record highs.
There is just one hitch: Not enough people are qualified to fill all the jobs. In some cases, the companies have had to look outside Ireland to recruit candidates with the right skills.
After a five-year economic crisis, the mismatch represents one of the thorniest problems facing Ireland and many other European countries. Hundreds of thousands of people who lost work, and many young people entering the work force, are finding that their skills are ill suited to a huge crop of innovation-based jobs springing up across the Continent.
"In all countries, there is an expectation that many of the new jobs created will be in the knowledge-intensive economy," said Glenda Quintini, a senior labor economist at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. "But we are seeing a worrisome skills mismatch that means a large number of unemployed people are not well prepared for the pool of jobs opening up."
Employers have long complained that graduates do not have the skills they need. But in a recent report, the International Labor Organization warned that "skills mismatches and occupational shifts have worsened" in Europe in the wake of the crisis. People laid off in hard-hit sectors, from construction to finance, face lengthy retraining, while too few graduates entering the job market have chosen engineering, science or technology degrees for the growing innovation-based jobs market.
The gap in Europe has important consequences for the recovery as the euro zone grapples with unemployment rates stuck stubbornly above 12 percent: It may hold back a return to meaningful growth and generate "significant economic and social costs," according to the European Commission, the policy-making arm of the European Union.
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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc