Europe's labour market is recovering – or at least showing signs of recovery – from COVID's repercussions, but is still far away from meeting demands.
The latest statistics shown a decrease in vacant positions in the job market, with employment also up in the second quarter of the year.
The job vacancy rate – the proportion of total posts that are vacant – decreased from 2.8% in the first quarter to 2.7%.
In the same period, the employment rate of people aged 20-64 stood at 75.4%, a slight increase of 0.1 percentage points.
That, however, comes secondary to the broader trend: the EU's longer term job vacancy rate has continued increasing annually, failing to match supply with demand.
The rate of job vacancies in the EU has continued to increase since 2020, when many people were furloughed or laid off to cut costs due to the pandemic.
Despite an increase in the employment rate in the second quarter, an earlier report by the European Commission said labour shortages and skill gaps exist.
The creation of new jobs and the need to replace workers who retire are causing "shortages," which are being reflected in these statistics, it added.
These shortages will likely increase, according to the report, with the projected decline in the working-age population from 265 million in 2022 to 258 million by 2030.
Which country has the most job vacancies
Among the EU member states with figures available to Eurostat, the Netherlands had the highest job vacancy rate in the EU, with 4.7% of the total jobs still needing to be filled.
Bulgaria and Romania, on the other hand, only recorded a 0.8% job vacancy rate in the same quarter.
Among the vacant positions advertised online in the same period, software developers and sales assistants were the most demanded.
Jobs in advertising, marketing, and manufacturing also had a significant number of vacancies, in addition to engineering and research and development.
Europe's labour shortage keeping jobs vacant?
Compared to the second quarter job vacancy rates of 2021 and 2022, this year's figure lies sandwiched between the two.
EU's vacancy rate stood at 2.2% in the second quarter of 2021, immediately following the opening of major markets. It reached 3% in 2022's second quarter and has started to drop ever since.
Country-wide statistics show the continent's struggle to fill in positions, often attributed to a lack of skilled labour.
According to Eurostat, more than 75% of EU companies already struggle to find professionals with the necessary skills to fill jobs, hampering economic growth.
German government's new immigration law, passed in August, aimed at attracting skilled non-EU workers to combat the shortage inside the country.
The Danish government also approved a three-year visa for international students who wish to work following their graduation to fill roles.
On the flip side, though, some 27.5 million people in the EU's labour force said they were either unemployed, underemployed, seeking work but not immediately available, or were available but not seeking work.
That led to slightly more than 1 in 8 people in the EU being exposed to the labour market "slack," defined by ILO as "the difference between workers' desired amount of work and the amount of paid work available."
The rate of unemployment in the EU has been decreasing since 2020, caused "due not to an increase in unemployment but rather the increase in the number of people available to work but not seeking it" according to Eurostat's report.
That has led to positions being vacant, hence, not significant shifts in vacancy rates, including the latest quarter, it added.