Co-existence of Unemployment and Skilled Labour Shortage? Evidence from Thuringia
In the light of favourable business conditions during the previous years, business organizations have repeatedly cautioned about a skilled labour shortage that could constrain future development of enterprises. While shortages may be typical of phases of economic expansion, the skilled labour shortage might turn into a permanent phenomenon if one takes into account the shrinking of the working-age population. The demographic transition occurs at an especially rapid pace in Eastern Germany. At the same time, this region still exhibits high rates of chronic unemployment, which renders the possibility of a skilled labour shortage questionable. We focus on the federal state of Thuringia and investigate two questions. Firstly, we evaluate to what extent occupation-specific bottlenecks exist both in Germany and in Thuringia, using a set of criteria based on official labour market statistics. We find evidence of high utilization of labour supply in technical and metalworking professions in Germany. In the majority of these occupations, the same is true for Thuringia. Hence, a high level of unemployment and skilled labour shortage may coexist, at least in a transition phase. Secondly, we investigate whether companies in Thuringia already expect problems when searching for skilled personnel in the near future. For this purpose, the IWH has conducted a survey among approximately 1 000 companies. It turns out that 61% of the interviewed companies anticipate such problems, with statistically significant differences with respect to the companies’ characteristics. In addition, we discuss selected policies that companies plan to implement in the field of human resource management when anticipating problems.