Labour shortages in Private Security: CoESS and UNI Europa publish first-ever EU-wide study

CoESS and UNI Europa are launching today the first-ever EU-wide survey on labour and skills shortages, with the support of EU Funds. The insights and findings of the study will help develop solutions to a major challenge the industry is currently facing, namely labour and skills shortages. The INTEL project is a joint initiative of CoESS and UNI Europa, respectively the European employers’ and workers’ organisations, which have been engaged in a very productive Social Dialogue for almost 25 years. 

While labour shortages in private security are particularly visible to the public these days, the industry has been facing this issue for years.

Against this background, the EU Sectoral Social Partners for the Private Security Services, the Confederation of European Security Services (CoESS) and UNI Europa, have been awarded EU-funding in 2021 to continue addressing the matter as part of EU Social Dialogue.

The awarded EU-project “INTEL: Skills Intelligence for the Private Security Services” aims to take stock of the current situation of labour and skills shortages across EU Member States, provide intelligence on future skills requirements, and deliver solutions to empower national Social Partners in anticipating and managing this important challenge.

As a first deliverable of the project, CoESS and UNI Europa publish today the first-ever EU-wide study on labour and skills shortages in the private security services. In 2021 and 2022, a team of researchers interviewed Social Partners, security companies and clients in 25 EU Member States about their perceptions of and experience with labour and skills shortages.

The results of this study are confirming the relevance of the matter:

  • Both employer organisations and trade unions report that skills and labour shortages are a key priority.
  • 92% of companies report increasing difficulties to find workers in the past 1-5 years.
  • 48% of companies struggle to respond to market demand due to labour shortages.
  • 70% of sectoral social partners consider future skills shortages significant and likely to persist.
  • 68% of companies expect that labour and skills shortages will present a serious issue for their future development in the next five years.

 This situation is a result of developments on both the supply- and demand-side:

  • On the supply side, Social Partners witness a male-dominated, ageing workforce in the face of demographic change, but also shortcomings in national education systems.
  • On the demand side, stakeholders see a technological change that leads to new service demands, but also a decline in other service segments.

Social Dialogue can be an important force to develop solutions for this matter in a way that is sustainable for both workers and businesses. But Social Partners report several barriers to effectively address this matter:

Notably, 83% of national Social Partners report that low-cost focused procurement practices, and their consequences, are a key barrier to address labour and skills shortages.

Many also say that the lack of skills intelligence is another important barrier. With the extensive study published today, the EU Sectoral Social Partners aim to close this existing gap in skills intelligence.

As part of the INTEL project, CoESS and UNI Europa will publish a report of Social Partner best practices in multiple EU Member States that jointly address labour and skills shortages. This second report will be published in the second half of 2022.

National workshops will be hosted by CoESS members in Germany, Sweden, and Croatia during autumn 2022 with the support of EU-funding to discuss national situations in these countries.

A high-level stakeholder conference will be organised in Brussels on 24 February 2023 to discuss the project results with experts from EU institutions and national stakeholders from EU Member States.

The first project study can be found here.


Contact for further information:

Alexander Frank

Head of EU Affairs at CoESS