Hungary is suffering from a critical shortage of skilled workers according to a recent study prepared by GKI Economic Research Zrt. 81 percent of companies interviewed by GKI in November said they did not employ enough skilled workers, according to napi.hu.
There is a shortage of unskilled and semi-skilled workers as well. According to the study, every third company said it was looking to hire both unskilled and skilled workers. Every fifth company said there weren’t enough employees with university degrees. One out of ten companies told GKI they were looking for managers with the right training, whereas in the field of administration there is no shortage of workers.
53 percent of companies with more than 250 employees complained about a lack of skilled and unskilled workers. Companies engaged in the food industry (75%), chemicals industry (61%), the manufacture of machinery (54%) and processing industries (50%) said they were affected by a shortage of qualified employees.
The lack of skilled workers is especially acute for companies with fewer than 250 employees, 96 percent of which told GKI they suffered from a lack of adequate labor. This figure fell to 85 percent at companies with fewer than 20 employees. Particularly affected are companies in construction (94%) and metal processing (93%), although companies engaged in producing machinery (90%) and food processing (89%) also suffer from a shortage of skilled labor.
Based on the results of its study, GKI concludes that the current system is not capable of redressing the shortage of skilled workers. One reason is that, upon completion of their studies, more and more Hungarians are seeking work abroad in pursuit of higher wages, better prospects and greater stability. Another reason is that in Hungary skilled workers do not earn sufficiently more than unskilled workers to induce students to enroll in trade schools.
According to Central Statistical Office (KSH) data, those engaged in physical labor earned an average net monthly salary of HUF 126,000 (USD 435) in October 2016. Within this group, those working in retailing earned just HUF 110,000 (USD 380), those in construction HUF 105,000 and those in industry HUF 141,000.
What is to be done?
GKI concludes that it is not enough to increase the minimum wage of skilled workers over the next two years, as planned by the government. Rather, an enduring and tangible improvement to the wages of skilled workers needs to take place, even if higher wages tend to diminish Hungary’s competitiveness. GKI says that in addition to higher salaries, other steps are needed including a reduction in state expenditures, an increase in market competition, the development of human resources, and incentives for investment.