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Huge outflow of professional painters expected in Europe

In the overall construction and installation markets, the workload of professionals is increasing due to a growing labour shortage, both qualitative and quantitative. For construction-related professions, like being a professional painter for instance, it seems quite hard to acquire new generations of professionals, because youngsters seem less interested in these types of jobs. One reason is that these jobs have an image of being lowly payed, physically demanding and are considered low status professions. This makes it difficult to fill the gap in quality and quantity left by the older generations of construction professionals that will leave the market in the coming years when they retire. Furthermore, many companies active in the paint industry had to lay off staff during the crisis and many of these professionals got new jobs in other industries and are not coming back.

Measuring trends       


Age distribution of a professional population can be a good indicator of the above mentioned trends, as well as for measuring age-related differences in for instance usage of media channels and online behaviour of professional painters, which is the focus of the 2019 Painter Insight Monitor. The results of our 2019 Painter Insight Monitor show that age distribution not only provides evidence of current trends, but also indicates future trends that will have a huge impact on the market as a whole, on the development of labour shortages specifically, and also on the success of future marketing strategies of brands and manufacturers of painting products.

As can be seen in the graph below, the average age of the European painter is relatively high. In part this reflects the ageing population of Europe as a whole, but the underrepresentation of younger painters also shows the difficulty to attract younger generations to the painter profession.  

What is more striking, however, is the other extreme of the graph, the overrepresentation of the older generation of painters. A substantial share of professional painters, roughly one third on a European level, is over 55 years old. That means that, in the next decade or so, one third of the current European painting professionals will retire, leaving a substantial gap in manpower and experience in the market. In due time, this will only increase the already apparent qualitative and quantitative labour shortage.

60% above 55 years of age

When focusing on specific countries, two jump out. The first is the United Kingdom, where 60% of the current painters is over 55 years of age. That means that almost two thirds of the British professional painter labour force will retire and leave the market in the next decade or so. Given the difficulty to attract younger generations to the painting profession, this will have an astounding effect on the labour shortage. Adding to that the possible effect of the upcoming Brexit, which already causes painters from other European countries that were working in the United Kingdom to find jobs elsewhere, and may hamper the possibility to hire personnel from other European countries in the future to fill the gap on the labour market, labour shortage seems to become an even bigger problem in the British professional painters market in the upcoming years.

Painting profession more attractive in Poland        

At the other end of the spectrum is Poland, where only 16% of the current professional painters is over 55 years old. That means that, due to retirement, only just over one sixth of the painters will leave the market in the next ten years or so, showing quite a difference with the two thirds of the United Kingdom. Actually, Poland is the only one of the eight European countries in this study where the average age of painters has slightly declined since 2017, to an average of 44.4 years in 2019. A possible explanation is found in the relatively rapid growth of the Polish economy, which not only results in a higher demand for professional painters, but also causes wages to rise, making the painting profession more attractive for youngsters. Additionally, the rise in jobs and wages may inspire Polish painting professionals working in other European Union countries to return home and execute their profession there.

Marketing effect

When looking at differences in usage of media and online behaviour between age groups, the European average of one third of the professional painters leaving the market by retiring in the next decade or so will have a major impact on the success of marketing strategies of manufacturers and brands. The older generation of professional painters, currently a vast share of the total, are also often the key decision makers in choosing brands of painting products. In the coming years, they will retire and their positions will be taken over by younger generations of professional painters.


As the results of the 2019 painter Insight Monitor indicate, the media usage of younger generations and their online behaviour differs significantly from older generations, meaning that marketing strategies to reach professional painters will have to change with the upcoming generational shift in the market. For manufacturers and brands of painting products it will be beneficial to anticipate these trends and adjust their strategies accordingly. Moreover, for extreme country-specific examples like the United Kingdom, where an expected major increase in labour shortage might cause individuals to pick up a brush themselves, a focus on the DIY market might prove more lucrative in the years to come.

For detailed information on media usage and online orientation by different age groups of professional painters in eight different European countries, we refer you to the 2019 Painter Insight Monitor which is now available at USP Marketing Consultancy.