Employment: European Vacancy Monitor highlights growing job opportunities in healthcare sector

Increasing labour demand in the healthcare sector is confirmed by the latest European Vacancy Monitor (EVM) just published by the European Commission. Employment in the EU healthcare sector has grown almost 2% annually between 2008 and 2012. This is the result of the combined effects of an ageing population, advances in technology and treatments, people expecting higher quality service and greater emphasis on preventative care. In 2012 almost one million people were hired to work in healthcare.

Nevertheless the Monitor reflects falling demand overall in the EU labour market, with 6% fewer vacancies in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with the last quarter of 2011. The number of people hired was down in the fourth quarter of 2012 in most of the main occupational groups and fell for ‘professionals’ for the first time since the second quarter of 2010 (by 5%).

The professions with the highest growth in employees after personal care workers in health services were software applications developers and analysts, administrative and specialised secretaries, mining, manufacturing and construction supervisors and primary school and early childhood teachers.

László Andor, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, said: “The European Vacancy Monitor allows jobseekers to identify which sectors offer the best prospects of finding a job. It also helps public authorities to invest in training people with the right skills to avoid shortages. The latest report confirms that healthcare is one of the sectors with the greatest potential for job creation in Europe and so where investment in training is urgent.”

Personal care in health services ranked first among the fastest growing occupations between the fourth quarter of 2011 and the fourth quarter of 2012. Three other health jobs are ranked in the top-25 growing professions: nursing and midwifery professionals, medical and pharmaceutical technicians and other health associated professionals e.g. dentists, pharmacists, physiotherapists. In the medium-term, job prospects look most promising for nurses and midwives.

The report also highlights that a number of countries may have to deal with the challenge of an ageing workforce in the health sector. For example, more than 40% of the healthcare workforce in Bulgaria and the Baltic states is between 50 and 64, which is significantly higher than the EU average.

Hiring increases in the healthcare sector contrast with the general trend reflected in the European Vacancy Monitor, with a fall of approximately 4% in hiring in the EU27 between the fourth quarters of 2012 and 2011. Hiring was down in most occupational groups and fell for the first time since the second quarter of 2010 for professionals. At the same time, hiring of those with tertiary education increased by 2% and may indicate that more professionals accepted jobs below their qualifications.

The growth potential for long term care work will be at the focus of a conference on “More and Better Jobs in Home Care Services” organised on 12 September in Brussels by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound).


The importance of the healthcare sector for job creation in Europe was highlighted in the Commission’s April 2012 Employment Package (see IP/12/380 and MEMO/12/252), which included a Commission staff working document on an action plan for the EU healthcare workforce.

The healthcare sector employs directly around one in every ten workers in the EU, with Germany and the UK employing some 60 % of healthcare staff in the EU27 according to the European Vacancy Monitor.

Occupations in health belong to the ‘top bottleneck occupations’ in Europe for which vacancies are difficult to fill according to the European Commission’s European Vacancy and Recruitment Report 2012.

An analysis of key trends for nurses and midwives within the EU Skills Panorama shows that a combination of factors contribute to the mismatch: insufficient numbers of nurses trained, competition for nurses across the world, significant replacement demand with an increasing number of nurses and midwives approaching retirement age, high attrition rates, pay and working conditions as well as lack of willingness to undertake the hard physical work.

The European Vacancy Monitor is a quarterly bulletin published by the European Commission Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion Directorate General. This publication is part of the Europe 2020 flagship initiative ‘An Agenda for New Skills and Jobs’.

For more information

News item on DG Employment website
More information about the European Vacancy Monitor
László Andor’s website

Source: European Commission Press Room