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German Trade Sector Suffers Clear Shortage of Skilled Staff

Summary:
The shortage of skilled staff is now being clearly felt in the trade sector, according to the latest business survey conducted by the ifo Institute. “23.9 percent of the wholesalers surveyed (excluding the automotive segment) reported a shortage of skilled staff, versus just 18.2 percent a year ago. In retailing (excluding the automotive segment) this figure was as high as 25.7 percent, versus just 18.0 percent a year ago. 25.4 percent of car dealers also reported a shortage of skilled staff compared to 22.5 percent last year. “The high number of employees is offset by a significant increase in the number of job vacancies, as it is becoming increasingly difficult for firms to fill these vacancies. The number of wholesalers

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The shortage of skilled staff is now being clearly felt in the trade sector, according to the latest business survey conducted by the ifo Institute. “23.9 percent of the wholesalers surveyed (excluding the automotive segment) reported a shortage of skilled staff, versus just 18.2 percent a year ago. In retailing (excluding the automotive segment) this figure was as high as 25.7 percent, versus just 18.0 percent a year ago. 25.4 percent of car dealers also reported a shortage of skilled staff compared to 22.5 percent last year.

“The high number of employees is offset by a significant increase in the number of job vacancies, as it is becoming increasingly difficult for firms to fill these vacancies. The number of wholesalers affected is particularly high in the capital goods sector at 28 percent,” notes ifo expert Sabine Rumscheidt, who evaluated the data. In the “Other machines and equipment” segment as many as a third of survey participants reported difficulties in finding staff. The results for construction-related wholesaling segments like wood, building materials and sanitary ceramics and furniture, furnishings and flooring also indicate staff shortages when it comes to filling vacancies.

The share of firms suffering from a lack of skilled staff is higher in the consumer goods segment (25 percent), for example, than in food and beverages retailing (20 percent). In construction-related retailing segments like furniture retailing (28 percent) or household goods, DIY and furnishings (26 percent) the results are similar to those in wholesaling. “But no major increase in wages has emerged in the sector,” notes Rumscheidt.

Publication (in German)

  1. Rumscheidt, Sabine, "Beschäftigungsentwicklung im Handel: Besteht ein Arbeitskräftemangel in der Branche?", ifo Schnelldienst 71 (09), 2018, 37–43 | Details | PDF Download

Clemens Fuest
Clemens Fuest took over from Hans Werner Sinn as chairman of the IFO Institute in April 2016. He is professor at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Munich.

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