Appendix A to FEANI Position PaperEngineering Skills Shortage in Europ
Country specific reports about the shortage of engineering skills and what has been done to counter the national shortages
economic growth and development Slovenia
In the first quarter of 2007, Slovenia’s economy, fuelled by flourishing exports, domestic spending and investments, expanded at an annual rate of 7,2%. The fast economic growth, not surprisingly, indicated the structural worker shortage. In the second quarter of 2007, one third of companies in the manufacturing industry claimed they lacked skilled workers. Moreover, it was the highest skilled workforce shortage since the independence in 1991. It was more than 50% higher than at the same time in 2006 and three times higher than at the last economic growth peak in 1999. The worker shortage had increased slowly since mid nineties until 2006 when it grew faster than within the entire decade before. The same happened with the general worker shortage, where 15% of companies in the manufacturing industry reported the shortage. Although the demand was much smaller then for the skilled workforce, it also grew enormously as the shortage in the second quarter of 2007 was three times bigger than in the same period of 2006 (Source: Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia).
The skilled worker shortage has become one of the biggest obstacles in sustaining
’s fast economic growth and
development. The problem has been well known within the IT sector where
companies have tried for years to attract skilled workers from South Eastern
and Slovenia Eastern Europe. As the legal immigration of
professionals was not sufficient, some IT companies have been forced to
establish branches in the countries of Western Balkans in order to employ local
Recently, other sectors have also been facing the skilled worker shortage, especially amongst the engineers. As the manufacturing and civil engineering sectors are the main pillars of the current economic growth, the shortage of engineers might have a severe negative impact on their future performance. The number of workers employed in the civil engineering occupations grew 21% in 2006. The growth was also high in other engineering occupations (8% on average) and computer professionals (13%). As a result of increasing demand, the unemployment amongst engineers (6,4%) was lower than in the total workforce (11,1%), excluding self employed and farmers. Moreover, the lowest unemployment was in electrical engineering (2,8%), civil engineering (3,3%), and electronics and telecommunications (4,9%). (Sources: Statistical Office of the
Republic of Slovenia; Employment Service of ) Slovenia
Decreasing interest for math, science and technology education
The enrolment of students in the tertiary education reveals the educational structural gap in
that might endanger the country’s
future economic development. The number of all students enrolled in the
tertiary education in Slovenia
in the period between 1998 and 2004 grew 7,4% annually. The annual growth in
the maths, science and technology tertiary education was 6,1% and decreased
over the period to 3,7% in 2004. The compound annual growth in the same period
was much smaller in the engineering tertiary education (4,7%) and over the
period declined from 13,2% to 0,3%. On the other hand, the highest growth was
recorded in the computing education, where the number of students grew 10,8%
annually and the growth was 16,5% in 2004. Slovenia
The structural changes are clearly seen from the figures on graduates by the education field in the period between 1998 and 2004 (Figure 1). The share of engineering, manufacturing and construction graduates in the tertiary education graduates decreased from 19,1% in 1998 to 15% in 2004 (12,6% in 2006). Moreover, the share of math, science and technology graduates, which decreased from 23,8% in 1998 to 18,7% in 2004 (16,2% in 2006) was significantly smaller than in the EU-27 or EA-13 (Figure 2).
Figure 1: Graduates in
by Field of Education Slovenia
Figure 2: Graduates (ISCED 5-6) in maths, science and technology fields - as % of all fields
Notes: Technology means computing, engineering, manufacturing, construction;
EA means Euro Area.
The engineering education and professions in
have become less attractive, although the major contributing sectors to the GDP
and economic growth are still those depending on the engineering skills.
However, due to the structural changes in the Slovenian economy on the one hand
and much deeper changes in values in society on the other hand since
independence in 1991, the most preferred studies have become those in the field
of social science, business and law. The maths, science and technology studies
have been less and less popular. Even more so, as they have a stigma of being
difficult studies. Slovenia
Once highly respected engineering professions have lost their esteem also because of relatively low salaries compared to some other professions in the health and public administration sectors. The unions representing doctors, lawyer and public administration occupations are very strong and have secured high salaries for their members. On the other hand, engineers are not so well organised and do not have any engineering union. Salaries of engineers may therefore vary significantly and depend on the industry sector. However, the average salary is significantly lower than in comparable professions in the public sector. A comparison of data on graduates and employment confirms that maths, science and technology professions are becoming less attractive, as more and more graduates later work in other professions, especially in sales, marketing, management and public administration.
Lack of active policies to tackle a skills shortage problem
Lower salaries than in more developed EU member states and high taxes retreat highly skilled workforce from abroad. There have been several initiatives to lower taxes, but the Government has not made any significant changes. The macroeconomic environment remains less attractive than in some other EU member states. The Government is aware that the lack of engineers is becoming a serious barrier for industry to secure its future growth, but has yet to take any decisive action to improve the situation.
Both, companies and the public sector will face the engineering skills shortage in the coming years. The supply of new engineers will decrease due to negative demographic trends and stagnation of students.
has to reconsider its policies to increase the number of highly qualified, skilled
workers, especially engineers. It will have to take proactive steps in the
education policy and promotion of engineering skills. Policies and actions are also
required to provide better training and qualifications for engineers, as well
as lifelong learning to keep them employable. Slovenia
Changes are required in the fiscal policy in order to reduce the taxation of salaries and make the country competitive to attract the best human resources from abroad. The changes are also required in the immigration policy to attract more engineers and other highly qualified, skilled workers as
cannot secure its future growth on its own resources. Slovenia
Slovenian engineers will have to be proactive, too. They should follow examples of countries like
and build strong engineering associations to promote their professions. Germany
(Published in Annex to FEANI Position Paper on Engineering Skills Shortage in Europe, approved by General Assembly on 5 October 2007)