Unemployment in Greece is declining and according to the latest data in April it fell to 12.5% from 17% in April 2021. Despite the decline, almost 600,000 Greeks are out of the labour market and the following paradox is observed: Businesses complain that they are looking for qualified employees and cannot find them. No, they are not looking for nuclear scientists, but mainly for technical workers. Those who graduate from the Public Vocational Training Institutes (DIEK) as these offer modern specialties demanded by the labour market.
The following example shows that in order to meet the modern and future needs of the transformation of the economy, there are issues of choice arising in vocational education policy and vocational guidance needs.
Training for electricians (technician of internal electrical installations) during the 2021- 2022 period was offered by 4 Public IEK: Korydallos, Agios Demetrios, Neapoli and Sitia. From the Public IEK of Attica (Korydallos and Agios Dimitrios) this year the graduates will not be more than 40-50. And the question that arises is why do only two public IEKs offer this training in Attica?
Because it is an expensive specialty that requires modern technological equipment and large laboratory spaces. It is also not popular. Other specialties are more popular, such as that of the Chef: the Culinary Art Technician-Chef specialty is offered by 47 Public IEK.
Large employment gaps in relation to southern Europe
"The employment deficit rates in Greece in the manufacturing sector compared to the European south, are revealing", Christos Ioannou, director of the employment and labour market sector of Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), tells BusinessDaily.gr and explains: "Greek employment gaps in manufacturing reach 7.4% in comparison with Portugal, 6% in comparison with Italy, 3% in the comparison with Spain. Similar gaps exist in business and technology services. These deficits and gaps are an aspect of the weak productive structure of the Greek economy and society. It is the other side of the low share of internationally traded products and services in GDP, low - although increasing in recent years – exports.”
Professions in high demand
According to Ioannou, the analyses of SEV reveal a number of professions, mainly of vocational education and training, for which businesses find it difficult to find human resources. Such are: IT applications technician, Network and telecommunications technician, Computer technician, Production electrician, Industrial plant maintenance technician, food processing craftsman.
Also, significant demand is recorded for highly qualified human resources in specialties of Information and Communication Technologies, marketing and sales of technologically advanced products and services, such as: Computer and Information Analysts, Data Scientists, Database and Network Administrators and Architects, Market Research Analysts.
As Ioannou points out, "while there is a demand there is not enough supply in certain specialties requested by organized and modern businesses.”
But why is that? Ioannou clarifies: "Technical vocational education in our country has been degraded. Curricula should be reviewed. There are shortcomings in the market, and in supply, there is a gap. SEV shows what needs to be done, with the Skills4Jobs initiative. From the list of missing specialties and professions, we are piloting the initiative for two of them: Electrical Automatist, Information Technology Applications Technician, and we will continue with the others".
Securing work with competitive wages
Shortages also concern professions that are characterized as dynamic and their remuneration increases faster. The average salaries of certain dynamic professions of critical productive sectors, such as: "Electricians and electronics", "Information and communications technicians" and "Generalist employees and keyboard machine operators" are higher than the average salary of the economy.
"To keep up with technological developments, we need to retrain a large number of workers in the coming years. Education will play an important role", concludes Ioannou.