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EURES (EURopean Employment Services)
News article24 January 2019European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion3 min read

Skills for Jobs: How to get the most out of the OECD’s database

The world of work is changing amid technological developments and globalisation. For employees and employers, it’s important to know which skills are in demand and in excess in certain countries and occupations. This is where the Skills for Jobs DB

Skills for Jobs: How to get the most out of the OECD’s database

What is the Skills for Jobs database?

Launched in 2017 by the OECD, Skills for Jobs provides information on skills shortages and surpluses in 40 countries, as well as occupational imbalances.

It looks at cognitive, social and physical skills, and can help you understand which skills are hard to find and which are in excess – whether you’re a jobseeker looking to optimise your skillset, or an employer trying to find skilled workers.

Why is it important?

If you’re a worker with oversubscribed skills, you may end up having to take a job in a field unrelated to your specialism or below your education level, which can lead to dissatisfaction. Equally, if you don’t have the skills you need for your career of choice, it can be difficult to find a satisfying job.  

As an employer, you may struggle to fill open positions or risk falling behind when it comes to adopting new technologies if you don’t keep up with the latest information on skills.

The Skills for Jobs database can help you better understand skills imbalances and how they may harm, or help, you or your business.

So, which jobs and skills are in demand and which are in excess?

In the OECD countries (which include 21 EU Member States), more than 5 out of 10 ‘hard-to-fill’ jobs are found in high-skilled occupations. In contrast, fewer than 1 out of 10 ‘hard-to-fill’ jobs are found in low-skilled occupations.

In terms of sectors, education, information and healthcare are experiencing the highest levels of occupational shortages. The wholesale, retail trade and construction sectors are particularly oversubscribed, with a mixture of surplus workers and low demand.

Knowledge of computers and electronics (e.g. programming) is top of the list of skills in high demand, closely followed by judgement and decision-making, and communication and verbal abilities relating to problem-solving.

How do skills imbalances affect workers?

On average, over a third (36%) of workers in OECD countries are either over- or under-qualified for their jobs (17% and 19%, respectively), reflecting both weak skills demand and an insufficient supply of skilled workers.

If you’re a humanities or arts graduate, you’re most likely to be employed in a job unrelated to your specialism, followed by science and agricultural graduates. In contrast, if you’re a social sciences, business, law, health or welfare graduate, you have a greater chance of working in your chosen field of study.

How can the Skills for Jobs database help me?

The database offers a range of features.

If you’re thinking of a career change, the Changing career? tool allows you to compare your current job with the job you want, in order to identify the top five skills, abilities and knowledge you might need.

The Skills imbalances feature shows which skills are in demand and which are oversubscribed in 40 countries. Clicking on a skill displays a definition and detailed information about related occupations. It’s also possible to compare the results from different countries and, in some countries, different regions.

The Press & publications section is particularly useful for employers, as it contains an overview of skills imbalances in each of the 40 countries, providing a useful snapshot of the national situations. As such, it may help you make better use of the skills available in your country’s workforce.

Related links:

Skills for Jobs database

Changing career?

Skills imbalances

Press & publications

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