Shortage of skilled professional painters is spreading across Europe

The European professional paint industry is facing a continuous shortage of skilled labour. Year after year, the outflow of labour (mostly retirements) exceeds the inflow (newly trained craftsmen). This development is the biggest future challenge for professional painting companies in Europe and this problem is likely to get even worse in the upcoming years. These are some of the findings of the Painter Insight Monitor 2020, conducted by USP Marketing Consultancy among professional painting companies in 10 major European markets.

Painter Insight Monitor 2020 - USP Marketing Consultancy

Netherlands and Germany see the biggest shortage; UK and France are rapidly deteriorating

Based on the results of the Painter Insight Monitor 2020, the perceived labour shortage is biggest in the Netherlands and Germany. Here, 80-86% of the companies indicate that there is indeed a lack of skilled labour. At the same time, the situation in the United Kingdom (72%) and France (58%) is deteriorating. For the United Kingdom specifically, this seems to be a direct effect of the upcoming Brexit; painting companies fear the outflow of foreign labour and know that there is only a limited number of skilled craftsmen available domestically. Also other European countries like Poland (70%), Sweden (62%) and Denmark (56%) are facing serious labour shortage.

“There is a labour shortage as there is less youngsters going into these trades. They are going more into office spaces and things like that. Also, in light of Brexit I think that some people have gone back home, like Polish and Moldovan workers.” [United Kingdom]

Labour shortage is the biggest challenge of all

When asked what challenges are going to be most impactful in the near future, labour shortage ranks top of the list. It outranks other urgent topics like (being able to deal with) the demand for more sustainable projects/ products, having to work healthier, and increasing prices. Especially in the Netherlands and Germany, labour shortage is much more urgent than these other topics.


Painter Insight Monitor 2020 - USP Marketing Consultancy

Ageing population will further increase the challenge

51% of the European professional painter population is older than 50, which automatically means that in the coming 10-20 years 51% will be retiring. This huge outflow of labour and knowledge will have to be compensated for by the inflow of a new, younger labour force. This will be a big challenge, as it is already proving difficult to interest youngsters to aspire a career as craftsman in the construction/ finishing industry.

By means of the Painter Insight Monitor 2020, USP Marketing Consultancy has been investigating solutions for the labour shortage challenge, while also covering various other topics.