July 31, 2021

Labor shortage weighs on economic rebound

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Reuters

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Jul 5, 2021

A shortage of skilled workers, doubts about teleworking and supply issues are proving obstacles for some companies trying to profit from the post-health crisis economic rebound in France, business leaders said on Sunday, reporting. difficulties in finding takers for vacant positions.

The rise of teleworking has changed relationships within companies – Reuters

With less than a year to go before the presidential election, Emmanuel Macron’s chances of re-election depend in part on the strength of an economic rebound that is starting to benefit some of the country’s major industries, such as luxury goods manufacturers and energy exporters.

Speaking at an annual economic conference in Aix-en-Provence, some business leaders highlighted persistent problems in the labor market – including a shortage of skilled workers – which have worsened with the health crisis of the coronavirus, as companies try to cope with the rebound in demand.

The general manager of a major French industrial group said his company had posted advertisements for 150 vacant positions in two factories in the country, but no CVs had been received.

“The crisis may have numbed people’s relationship with work,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of the Aix-en-Provence Economic Meetings, adding, however, that the problem was more global, with similar difficulties encountered in the United States.

When the coronavirus epidemic spread to France at the beginning of last year, the government set up an advantageous system of partial unemployment and millions of employees switched to teleworking.

If employees initially appreciated working from home, they have since entered a second phase in which they question their relationship to their company and their colleagues, according to the boss of La Poste.
“I think there is a real question about the end of wage employment,” Philippe Wahl told a panel at the conference.

Nearly half of construction companies, 41% of companies in the service sector and a quarter of industrial firms are struggling to recruit workers, shows the latest Banque de France survey.

In the eyes of some, the evil runs deeper than that, with fundamental issues unrelated to COVID-19. For Ross McInnes, the boss of Safran, it is necessary to review the French school system. “All our companies have difficulty recruiting in trades which are rather well paid”, he said during a debate.

In addition to recruitment concerns, construction and manufacturing companies are having difficulty obtaining the materials needed to deliver to their customers.

According to the Banque de France survey, half of construction companies face supply problems, while 70% of car manufacturers are concerned.

“It’s a complete mess,” said the boss of a French manufacturing group of supply chains. He added that his company had set up 23 working groups to deal with specific supply issues, compared to the usual two. The problem could last until the end of 2022, he said.

Reporting Leigh Thomas and Sarah White; French version Jean Terzian

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