The European Job Markets’ Update: 2014

The European Job Markets’ Update: 2014

Europe in 2014 promises to be a much more exciting place than in the past few years. Slowly emerging from the shadow of the recession, certain economies are doing much better than before. This, in turn, will give jobseekers something to smile about this year.

Economy: the big picture

After falling by 0.5% in 2012, the GDP in 2013 stagnated across the 28-country strong European Union. In 2014, there is an expectation of 1.4% growth. The strongest growth will be in Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Luxembourg, Estonia, Romania, Britain, and Poland. However, the main growth driver will be the 1.7% growth in the German economy, along with the return to growth of Spain, which is among the biggest economies in the region. Sweden is expected to grow by 2.8% and Britain by 2.2% too.

This quarter, employers expect to increase hiring in 16 out of 24 European countries. Going forward, the number could climb higher if the economies sustain and grow in the first part of the year. For purposes of comparison, at the same time last year, just 11 European countries were looking to hire. Within Europe, Poland, Hungary and Greece are the places where employers are most optimistic on hiring.

Those looking for roles in Finance should look to target Germany, France and the UK in their job-hunt. Agriculture-related hiring will pick up in Spain and Italy, though, the overall news is still bad for those seeking jobs in Belgium, Slovakia, Spain, Finland, Ireland and Italy. Italy, in particular, is said to be showing the ‘biggest signs of strain this quarter’, with a -10% hiring outlook.

At the same time, surveys conducted among purchasing managers are indicating a pickup in manufacturing activity across Europe, particularly in Greece and Spain. Central Europe (including Poland and the Czech Republic) and the Nordic countries such as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden too are accelerating.

Countries to consider

  • The UK

The United Kingdom is still one of the major financial hubs of Europe. In 2014, this will be Europe’s fastest growing big economy, thanks to increased consumer spending. Experts are holding out hope of a balanced recovery, led by manufacturing, exports and investment.

Finance and energy are the most optimistic this year, with only the construction sector reporting a negative hiring outlook in the UK.

The European Commission recently upgraded Britain’s growth prospects, with lower unemployment, stronger investment, and improving trade deficit serving as indicators of this growth. The economy is expected to grow 2.5% in 2014, as opposed to the previous forecast of 2.2% growth. Thanks to domestic demand, private consumption remains the main growth driver.

  • Poland

Polish employers report the most optimistic first-quarter hiring intentions among all European Union countries. According to the Manpower Employment Outlook Survey too, employers are looking to hire, albeit cautiously. Companies in eight out of ten industry sectors expect to hire over the next three months. The outlook is good for those with work experience in transport, storage, or communications. Manufacturing, restaurants & hotels, wholesale & retail trade, too, is seeing an upsurge in hiring. Year-on-year, there is a sharp growth in manufacturing in Poland.

However, the major change comes in the type of hiring being planned. Employers are exploring flexible workforce solutions and are looking to outsource certain functions and processes. 

  • Germany

The 2014 Antal Global Snapshot survey says Western Europe, especially Germany, is looking up. Foreign companies have always considered Germany an attractive market to invest in. Industries like e-commerce and social media are growing, as are sectors like hospitality, automotive, renewable energies, and insurance. The country is buoyed by its strong export market and further supported by the improved outlook among neighbors like the UK and the Netherlands. An added incentive for those looking to work in Germany is the fact that things are very ‘global’ here. Working here can easily be your gateway to finding opportunities in other parts of the world. 

Right now, there is a shortage of qualified engineers in various sectors. Keep in mind, though, that German language skills are a must to open doors and to get ahead in your career here.

  • Greece 

Greece is the surprise package this year. Recovering from dismal levels of unemployment, surveys now show that consumer and business confidence is at a six-month high in Greece, even as retail sales data points to the first year-on-year rise in consumer spending in more than two years.

These and other indicators point at a slow-but-sure recovery from recession. Revival in manufacturing is expected to help boost the job market, with purchasing managers reporting creation of new jobs in their field.

Roles to explore

Across Europe, the tech sector continues to grow and its impact is being felt even in unrelated fields. Most new job openings require some level of expertise in Information Technology (IT). A LinkedIn survey showed that 20 of the 25 most in-demand skills this year involve technology. Whether you are in healthcare or working as a designer, knowledge of the right tools and software relevant to your field is essential. Soft skills such as communication and organizational abilities too are important.

Certain job roles are in focus this quarter:

  • IT Support and Networking 

It is no secret that the most robust growth is going to come from the IT sector. In fact, Robert Half Technology’s 2014 IT Hiring Forecast found that 83% of CIOs plan to hire staff in the first half of this year. The sector needs a constant inflow of new, skilled workers. And even if you are not a core IT professional, your skills in IT support or networking can land you in a job in unrelated organizations. All businesses look for qualified support staff to enable smoother customer and employee transactions. Also, wireless connectivity is one of the areas where networking knowledge will come in handy.

  • Languages

Every country in Europe has its own native tongue and while English will take care of the basics, knowing the local language is a definite advantage in the job market. Besides, several European companies have offices abroad, and your language skills can make you a strong candidate for a role in one of those geographies. Within Europe, German, French and Spanish are most popular. As countries develop their trade relations with China, knowledge of Mandarin Chinese is also highly valued. You can aspire toward fluency but even basic skills can boost your job-hunt.

  • Mobile App Expertise

Continuing the ongoing trend, 2014 is the year of tablets, mobiles, smart-watches and other portable devices that get increasingly ‘smarter’ and take on more tasks than ever before. Expertise in mobile and experience with app development will get employers to sit up and pay attention to you. JavaScript development and CSS3 skills are particularly in demand.

  • Project Management

Skilled project managers are essential to any company looking to grow. The ability to see the big picture, to manage multiple employees with varying skill-sets, and to helm projects from inception to completion, are skills very much in demand. Demonstrated expertise and/ or certification in one or more areas of project management can help.

  • Digital Marketing

Web and mobile apps development is just one part of the story. Several businesses and retail companies require professionals with experience in promoting their business in the online marketplace. Today, digital marketing is an essential skill, as is social media marketing.

  • Finance

Growth in any sector of the economy almost always leads to growth in banking and financial sectors. Skills like financial planning, insurance, underwriting, and accounting will help you get ahead.

  • Occupational Therapy

The growth in healthcare and allied fields is among the biggest stories of our times. As more and more countries experience an increase in retirement-age population, nursing skills are in high demand, as are several other roles in healthcare. Occupational therapy is one area set to experience explosive growth, and there is growing need for professionals to help people recover from age-related injuries. If you are in this sector, consider getting an advanced qualification to further boost your prospects in Europe.

  • Computer Graphics and Animation

Hand in hand with IT and mobile app development, there is an upsurge in demand for graphics and animation professionals. Creativity and knowledge of software like Adobe Illustrator, Quark, or Adobe InDesign will take you places. Photography and drawing skills too are important.


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