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EURES (EURopean Employment Services)
News article5 June 2024European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion2 min read

Why you should consider a skilled trades job

Skilled trades are responsible for most of the things we rely on to live, work and play. In a world still mostly oriented towards white collar jobs, why should you pursue a career in a skilled trade sector?

Why you should consider a skilled trades job

You are nearing graduation and trying to decide what to do after, or have been working for years at your current job, and feel the time has come for a change. Which career path should you take? 

For decades, the common trend among western world countries has been to steer people towards the perceived security of an academic career or office job. However, according to the latest EURES findings on labour shortages and surpluses in Europe, these occupations figure prominently on the lists of most EU countries in terms of labour surpluses – meaning that supply far exceeds demand. 

On the other hand, shortages significantly affect the skilled trade sector, where job postings outpace the supply of qualified people to fill them.

According to the report, 5 of the top 10 shortage occupations in the EU are skilled trades:

  • welders/flame cutters
  • plumbers/pipefitters 
  • motor mechanics
  • metal/machine setters
  • electricians

What is more, recent forecasts show that for some industries (e.g. automotive, metal products, electrical equipment), technological advancement will be such that they are expected to take the lion’s share (55%) of high-tech job openings until 2035. 

If this data is not enough to make you reconsider your career aspirations in favour of a skilled trade, here are a few more reasons:

A wide range of career paths. From the most traditional (e.g. woodworker, plumber, electrician) to the ‘new era’ occupations (solar installer, wind energy technician, HVAC mechanic), there is an endless list of professions you can choose from, based on your skills and inclinations.

High earning potential. Due to the aforementioned shortages, specialised trade skills are in very high demand. This will translate into high earnings as you gain experience and steadily carve your niche among the most sought-after professionals in your field.

More control over your schedule. Do you despise routine? A career in a skilled trade sector might be for you. You are more likely to work as an independent contractor, or even set up your own business; both these options will steer you away from the 9-to-5.

Training opportunities for all; young, and those in a mid-career transition. Via apprenticeships and vocational training, the EU provides many opportunities to gain invaluable experience in your trade of choice, whether you are starting out or starting over.

The future for skilled trades is bright

With the tech revolution going full steam ahead, the twin (green and digital) transition well under way, and the inevitable expansion of our cities requiring a vast supply of able hands, there is no doubt that the skilled trades will play a crucial role in reshaping our world. Wouldn’t you want to be part of that enormous transformation?

Want to find out more about labour shortages and surpluses in Europe? Read the 2023 EURES report here.


Related links:

Cedefop tools: Skills ForecastSkills-OVATE, European database on apprenticeship schemes

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  • Business / Entrepreneurship
  • Labour market news / mobility news
  • Youth
Related section(s)
  • Construction
  • Manufacturing
  • Mining and quarrying
  • Wholesale and retail trade; repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles


Articles are intended to provide users of the EURES portal with information on current topics and trends and to stimulate discussion and debate. Their content does not necessarily reflect the view of the European Labour Authority (ELA) or the European Commission. Furthermore, EURES and ELA do not endorse third party websites mentioned above.