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Investing in the skills of tomorrow: Avoiding a spiralling skills crisis – The Hays Global Skills Index 2018

The Hays Global Skills Index (the ‘Index’) is an annual assessment of the trends impacting skilled labour markets and examines the dynamics at play across 33 markets, determining how easy or difficult it is for organisations to find the skilled professionals they need. The seventh edition of the Index sheds new light on the multiple pressures facing today’s labour markets around the world. These include: growing talent mismatch; the widespread productivity puzzle; ageing populations; gender pay gaps; and shrinking share of the national income for workers., As ever, the picture is complex. While global economic growth is forecast to increase this year, that trend has not been matched by widespread growth in the productivity or wages of global workforces. This report highlights a number of factors that may be contributing to this sluggishness; a key example is the growing talent mismatches between the skills workers possess and those desired by employers. This is a trend identified in almost half of the 33 markets assessed in this Index – indeed, of the 17 European countries with data on job vacancies, no fewer than 16 have showed a rise in their rate of unfilled employment vacancies this year – a key indicator of talent mismatches., But that’s only one element of the story. This report also investigates the global productivity puzzle, which has seen labour productivity levels particularly in Europe and the Middle East grow at rates far below their pre-financial crisis levels. While this was to be expected in the immediate aftermath of the crisis, the fact that productivity has not bounced back during the subsequent economic recovery is more surprising. Some countries appear to be stuck in a low growth trap, whereby weak productivity growth has led to reduced investment in labour and capital, further weakening overall productivity levels – with troubling knock-on effects for workers. But there are also longer-term trends to consider, notably countries’ ageing populations. This report also explores what causes such marked differences in the average working hours of countries featured in the Index, and the significant gender gaps that endure in everything from average wages to opportunities for promotion., Another serious issue of concern is the shrinking share of national income that workers receive, which has been linked to the effects of globalisation and the increasing introduction of robots, Al and machine learning. But again, as this report explains, this is not a one-size-fits-all issue. In some industrial sectors and geographical regions, the advent of Al and robotics may potentially boost the productivity of workers. This is, in part, because technological innovation cuts the cost of producing goods and services, raising the purchasing power of consumers whose extra spending creates new jobs. In other sectors and regions, however, it is having a clear, negative impact on jobs and wage growth. Overall, a key challenge for policymakers must be to try to ensure their citizens possess the right skills to take advantage of whatever new opportunities emerge in this fast-changing work landscape.