EXPLAINED: Why job sectors in Austria are short of workers

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EXPLAINED: Why job sectors in Austria are short of workers
Bonding with co-workers is a great chance to practice your German in professional situations. Photo by Pixabay.

Austria's current skilled labour shortage is 'widespread' and almost every sector is in need of workers, according to a new survey.


Even as Austria's unemployment rate rose 0.2 percent in May to 5.9 percent, around 58 percent of companies say they’re experiencing business difficulties directly related to the skilled labour shortage, according to a new labour market survey by the Credit Protection Association (KSV).

Around 320,000 people are looking for a job in Austria right now, marking the first increase in the unemployment rate in two years. Yet 26 percent of companies – or over a quarter – say the skilled labour shortage is so bad that it’s having a major effect on their operations.

Companies report a higher burden on their existing staff as a result, and some have even had to turn down new orders or business due to a shortage of qualified staff.

The Austrian unemployment agency reports that 117,000 positions are registered as vacant right now. However, as not all companies register their vacancies, the actual number is most likely quite a bit higher. The Austrian Economic Association currently estimates that about 216,000 jobs are currently being advertised across Austria.

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The worst-affected sector is construction, where around 24,000 vacancies remain unfilled and 76 percent of companies report a shortage of skilled labour.

Both tourism and engineering also report a particularly acute shortage of workers, although nearly all sectors are struggling.

Regionally, the shortage is most pronounced in Carinthia, where 73 percent of companies report needing staff. This compares with about 67 percent in Upper Austria and only 20 percent in Vorarlberg.

Minister of Labour and Economic Affairs Martin Kocher considers the rise in unemployment to be "moderate." He says that seasonal fluctuations in unemployment during spring are not unusual.

"The labour market situation is, fortunately, better than we feared, but we have challenges," he said, highlighting the skilled labour shortage in particular.

Kocher expressed optimism for the second half of the year and the coming year, despite acknowledging that the positive effects on the labour market are weaker than the previous year, which saw exceptional economic and labour market development.

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