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European Year of Skills
Press release12 September 2023Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

Survey highlights skills shortages in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

A new Eurobarometer survey published today confirms that skilled workers are key to the success of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe.

Eurobarometer report 529 cover

The results come on the same day as the Commission presents a set of initiatives for SME relief, which among others aims to enable a skilled workforce for SMEs to flourish by continuing to support training actions provided by the large-scale skills partnerships under the European Pact for Skills and other support initiatives to match skills with the needs of SMEs.

According to the survey, 95% of all SMEs say that it is very (82%) or moderately (13%) important for their business model to have workers with the right skills.

This situation holds nearly two thirds (63%) of companies back in their general business activities. Nearly half of them (45%) also say it hinders their efforts to adopt or use digital technologies, and four in ten (39%) see difficulties to green their business activities.

SMEs already apply a broad set of measures to find and retain workers. This includes efforts to make better use of talent within the company (e.g. staff mobility or job rotation), more investment in training, or increasing the attractiveness of jobs in terms of (non-) financial benefits.

To make it easier to recruit staff with the required skills, SMEs say they need better collaboration with public employment services (58%), better tools for assessing the skills of applicants (49%), better tools for assessing the company’s skills needs (46%), and easier procedures for recognition of foreign qualifications (38%).

The EU supports skills development and lifelong learning with funding and policies. The European Year of Skills puts skills development centre stage and Member States have endorsed the target of at least 60% of adults participating in training every year by 2030.

Around €65 billion of EU funds are available to support education, training and skills. The European Skills Agenda and the Pact for Skills have helped companies and workers across Europe in advancing training, benefitting already 2 million people.