Europe as a whole and some EU Member States in particular (Germany, the Netherlands) are facing a shortage of skilled labor that is holding back economic activity. With demographic decline and insufficient efforts to educate Europeans, the EU has no choice but to attract skilled labor from outside the country to achieve its energy and digital transition goals.
To help it do so, the European Commission on Wednesday unveiled a ground-breaking Talent Pool platform project, which will link vacancy descriptions and profiles of candidates from around the world (indicating their training, experience, language skills, etc.).
Member States will participate in the project on a voluntary basis, understanding that they will retain sovereignty over the issuance of work visas in the event of a final agreement between employer and candidate. On the other hand, it goes without saying that any non-European candidate hired by an EU company would enjoy the same rights as European workers.
The Commission also recommends that capitals promote the recognition of non-EU qualifications despite the many barriers that remain in this area. The difficulty of recognizing credentials and experience is one of the main obstacles to skilled immigration. Applicants from outside Europe fear falling into the "brain waste" syndrome, i.e. underutilization of their skills.
"Europe is in a global race for talent, just as it is for crucial raw materials and energy resources," Margaritis Schinas, the Commission's vice-president in charge of migration, emphasized on Wednesday. "And in this competition we have very strong competitors such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand," he added.
"This action plan should also be seen as a means to prevent illegal arrivals in the EU," said Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson. The EU has yet to finalize the migration and asylum pact proposed by the Commission in 2020 - a final agreement is expected by the first quarter of 2024.
About 3% of jobs in Europe are currently vacant, twice as many as in 2012. The working-age population is expected to fall from 265 million in 2022 to 259 million by 2030. The energy transition alone is expected to create between 1 and 2.5 million jobs by then. This means we urgently need to find the right workforce.
Business Europe, the Brussels-based organization representing the interests of European employers, welcomed the initiative, believing that the Talent Pool "could change Europe's attractiveness". The organization also stressed that it is "long overdue" for Europe to "recognize the role of economic migration in addressing the talent shortage".
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