The Institute for Employment Studies (IES) has called for a new 'skills observatory' to be set up to look closely at the supply and demand of science and technology skills across Europe, after in-depth research across the European Union carried out for the European Commission by the IES found that the information already available about skills shortages did not look closely enough at the problem. The study also found that some previous studies into skills shortages had been based on ad hoc or poor quality research.
The Institute says that the purpose of a 'skills observatory' would be to monitor and report regularly on fluctuating trends in the employment market throughout Europe. Richard Pearson, Director of IES and an author of the report, said: 'A good supply of science and technology skills is an essential element of our prosperity. Yet knowledge about the flows of scientists and technologists into and out of higher education, in employment and around the EU, is inadequate. The effective operation of these critical labour markets, with skill shortages co-existing with over-supply, requires better information. Existing data sets have major deficiencies and inconsistencies. The establishment of a European science and technology Observatory would be a significant first step, building on our research, to monitor and report regularly on the key trends.' The observatory would operate by collating information from each EU Member State to establish the differences between occupations, sectors, countries and locations in science and technology markets.
The study itself revealed selective shortages across the EU in particular skills such as IT, and under-utilisation of other, expensively developed skills such as life sciences and some areas of engineering. It also found no evidence to support theories of a ‘brain drain’ from the EU.