Greece no longer has the highest unemployment rate among EU members; at 13.2% at the end of August it is second to Spain’s 14%, although almost double the European Union average.
But despite the still high jobless rate, companies are finding it hard to hire both highly skilled and unskilled employees.
According to official figures, the number of unfilled jobs – that is, jobs offered by companies for which there was no supply – rose in the second quarter of 2021 by 117.8% compared to the same period last year.
Part of that is attributed to the global phenomenon of the post-pandemic exodus from jobs that has hit other countries, such as France and the United States, even harder. But it is also a domestic structural issue.
Employers have told Kathimerini that the shortage is most acute in construction, manufacturing and tourism. There is a lack of supply of skilled technicians such as pipe-fitters, plumbers and machinery operators, but also services personnel such as waiters and receptionists.
Some employers blame temporary factors, such as the income support provided to employees in sectors hard hit by the pandemic, that made not working a more attractive option. Almost all blame the lack of connection between post-secondary education and the market, exacerbated by a lack of technical schools.
Others point out that, as the protracted financial crisis and depression, which wiped out nearly 30% of Greece’s GDP, gave way to recovery, their companies found that, especially young highly skilled people, had either migrated abroad or, for many who stayed in the country, had never entered the job market and lacked experience.
Also, the lack of technical schools means that companies themselves have to do on-the-job training, which they consider a drain on their time and finances. A few contend that younger employees prefer seasonal, temporary or part-time employment.
Officials and public think tanks also emphasize another factor, low pay, which discourages people from seeking jobs, although employers counter, perhaps defensively, that they are currently offering far more attractive compensation packages than in the past and also blame high non-wage costs, such as social security contributions.