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European skills gap damaging trades, report finds

Trades across Europe are continuing to have recruitment problems because of skills shortages, and young people are continuing to struggle in the jobs market because they do not have the right skills, an international report has concluded.

The research by McKinsey management consultants showed that more than 25 per cent of employers are facing difficulties finding the right people. The report claims that educators are ‘over optimistic’ about the work-related skills young people are equipped with from their schools and colleges. Although almost three-quarters of education providers thought young people were leaving with the skills necessary for work, just 35 per cent of employers agreed with them.

The Education to Employment: Getting Europe's Youth into Work report looked at the situation in eight European countries, including the UK, Germany, France and Spain.

Despite high youth employment, many businesses had been unable to fill entry level jobs because young people did not have the right skills. A third of the businesses polled said the lack of skilled workers was a causing them ‘major business problems’.

There are currently 5.6 million under-25s looking for jobs across the EU, a figure the report referred to as ‘crisis level’.

McKinsey said that education and employers need to work together to ensure young people are leaving school or college with the kind of skills that industry requires.

European Commissioner for Education and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, told the BBC: "In Europe the mismatch between what our education systems are delivering and the needs of employers is resulting in a serious skills shortage and damaging the aspirations of Europe's young people and, ultimately, our future prosperity.”

The researchers, who spoke to 2,600 businesses and 5,300 young people, recommended that studying for essential skills should be made easier and that young people should also have the option for retraining. In addition, it said both suitable vocational and academic courses should be affordable.