Employment in high-skilled occupations is not only resisting the crisis but on the increase since 2008

Cedefop’s forecasts indicate a remarkable employment increase in high-skilled occupations until 2020. In short-term perspective, as well, EU labour force data (2008-10) show that employment in high-skilled occupations is more likely to resist the crisis.


 Source: Cedefop calculations, based on Eurostat, labour force survey.


  • In the period 2008-10, the crisis affected two occupational groups in particular at EU level: craft and related trade workers (about 2.9 million fewer employed or a decrease by 9.6%) and plant and machine operators, including assemblers (down 1.5 million or a 7.9% drop). Nevertheless, in 2010, these groups still accounted for 21% of total employment in the EU.
  • Negative trends of employment at EU level from 2008 to 2010 also concern elementary occupations (down by 0.6 million or 2.9%) and clerks (down by 0.8 million or 3.3%)
  • For service workers, together with shop and market sales workers, employment continued to rise (by 0.2 million or a 0.7% increase).
  • Employment in high-skilled occupations resisted the crisis. Employment of professionals even continued growing during the crisis (by 1.0 million employed or a 3.3% increase). Other high-skilled occupational groups only suffered limited job losses. In particular, technicians and associate professionals decreased by 0.4 million (a drop by 1.1%), and legislators, senior officials and managers by 0.3 million (1.9 %). Overall, between 2008 and 2010, employment in high-skilled occupations increased by 0.2 million (0.3%).

The indicator presented here is the difference between employment levels in 2010 and in 2008. The chart only considers absolute differences, complemented in the text by information on percentage changes. The indicator is broken down by occupational group (ISCO-88 Classification). Employment refers to annual averages of employed persons aged 15-64. Data originate from the European labour force survey and are subject to its methodology.