The Swedish Construction Federation and MEP Abir Al-Sahlani (RE) have organised a seminar "Building Europe - Future of work the construction” in the European Parliament.
The seminar was centred around three questions in particular, all vital to the future of the industry. How do we secure the supply of skills and increase free movement? What is needed to make education and training systems better tailored to labour market needs? And, how do we reform our labour markets to become more open, dynamic and mobile?
There are 3 million companies in the European construction sector, with a total of 18 million employees. 90% of construction companies are small or micro companies, with an average of 4 employees.
Urbanisation continues and metropolitan regions are growing. With an increasing demand for homes, workplaces and public places, the construction industry plays a crucial role and must be given the best conditions. Demographic change, migration and climate policies and the greening of the economy all provide for huge opportunities for the construction sector.
However, low productivity, regulatory burden, in-flexible labour markets and skills shortages are major constraints. Today seven out of ten companies report labour shortages as obstacles to expansion. The Swedish construction industry alone has a need for 50.000 new employees in five years’ time. The situation is the same all across Europe.
At the seminar, three areas came out as crucial to address these issues and ensure a bright future for the construction industry and the European Union alike.
Attractive workplaces and flexible labour markets
The industry needs to show itself as attractive employers - and improve the communication about the advantages to work in construction, rethink the narrative, so to speak. We need to broaden diversity among employees - today only 3% of blue-collar workers are women, but 30% among white-collar workers. We also need more flexible labour markets, and investment in skills for growth.
Better free movement of workers and services
The four freedoms need to be strengthened, especially in regard to service. Regulation needs to be fair, without burdens. EU-cooperation needs to be increased and the transparency better in training, for instance of on fire safety. Mobility between regulated professions needs to be facilitated and the mind-set of individuals needs to be improved - to be employable and attractive on the labour market. Labour immigration from third countries (Blue card directive) is important - but the national systems should be maintained, and work in parallel.
Respect national competence and national social dialogue
National social partner agreements on up-skilling, reskilling, rehabilitation is effective and part of national social systems, which must be preserved. They risk being undermined by detailed EU legislation in the area of labour rights – the subsidiarity principle must be respected.
Read more about the EU priorities of Sveriges Byggindustrier at the following linkEu/Emu/Euro