the sector needs more than 150,000 trained workers


The metal sector sets off all the alarms: it needs some 150,000 workers trained in different areas to cover the present and future demand of their companies, from welders and electricians to specialists in 3D technologies and robotics, according to calculations by Confemetal, which has prepared a ‘Study on the needs of professional skills and learning of metal in Spain’. This study, which details the profiles of workers required by the metal industry, commerce and services, will serve as the basis for the future training plan for the sector that Confemetal will design together with the CCOO and UGT.

Specifically, according to the employer of the metal, there is a growing lack of qualified professionals in the sector that currently limits, and will also limit in the future, the growth of the activity, and the productivity and competitiveness of the economy. From the business organization, they warn that, if the economy begins to grow, the industry, services and metal trade they will not be able to cope with the demand of qualified professionals with adequate training.

According to Confemetal estimates, in the metal industry alone some 60,000 workers with training in traditional professions such as those of turning, milling, tooling, welding and foundry, but also in new activities linked to product design; digitization; automation; 3D technologies; databases; process control; environmental and energy management; security; robotics, and logistics, among others.

In the case of metal trade and services, Confemetal estimates the need for trained workers at around 90,000. It’s all about metal professions facility managers of water, electricity, heating, cooling and air conditioning, thermal and acoustic insulation, telecommunications, recycling, and energies, especially renewable energies.

These Confemetal calculations are estimates based on current activity and in the possibility that, if there is a wide range of qualified personnel, the sector could generate more employment. In fact, they argue that some metal business projects reduce their size or are dismissed precisely because of the lack of qualified personnel. From Confemetal they emphasize the importance of training so that the sector maintains its activity but also so that take advantage of its potential to generate jobs. Without this necessary training and qualification of the workforce, the expectations of recovery that have been deposited in European funds will be limited or will not be successful, they warn.

Make industrial jobs more attractive

The metal employers’ association points out in this study that in order to acquire the skills needed by the sector, adequate facilities are required, similar to those found in factories and production centers, as well as “highly qualified” teachers and sufficient time for learning, all of which are factors that make the training offer more expensive and that, therefore, require a higher level of investment.

To this we must add, in the Spanish case, several problems: the incorporation of young people from the educational system is limited by demographics and the “certain disaffection” that exists for working in the metal sector, which makes it compete “with a certain disadvantage” compared to other sectors when it comes to recruiting talent. This, in turn, translates into an objective lack of potential workers or students. Thus, Confemetal considers that training should contribute to doing more attractive industrial jobsespecially for women, whose incorporation into the sector “should be favored and accelerated”.

To carry out this study of competencies, Confemetal has carried out a survey of its territorial associations, has analyzed the more than 4.35 million labor contracts signed in the sector between March 2019 and March 2021, the more than 917,000 job applications in the months of March of the 2019-2021 period and the more than 142,000 training actions scheduled by companies in the sector in those years.

With regard to the metal industry, the territorial associations of Confemetal point out that the main skills needs are for professionals capable of handling automated and robotic lines; to study and specify production processes; of optimizing production and repairing machinery, among others. They all present a criticality and coverage difficulty index of between 5.80 and 6.65 out of a total of 8 points. Analyzing the data on contracting and employment demand in the metal industry, the operation of machining parts in the field of production appears as the highest priority, since it concentrates more than half of the contracts analyzed, followed by preventive maintenance, which groups a third of the contracts.

However, both functions present a significant mismatch between supply and demand, since the ratio of people who demand these jobs for each employment contract signed it is just 0.29 and 0.24, respectively. The lowest rate is presented by statistical process control (0.01) and circular economy and waste management in the field of quality (0.22). In the wholesale trade of the metal sector, the greatest problems of professional skills, due to their difficulty in coverage, are presented by the operational functions of cutting and drilling, tooling and welding, both with an index of 7 out of a total of 8.

Flexible and unconventional training

After examining the results of the study, Confemetal advocates that the training plan to be designed for the sector, provided for in the collective agreement for 2023, does not contemplate the conventional structure for offering courses or specialties, since this does not adjust to the demand for ” microcompetences” that the sector needs. A) Yes, commitment to a “flexible” offer of training actionsmostly of short duration, with learning objectives associated with observable results and that responds to the true needs of companies.

“The efficient response to the needs of competence requires a sectoral learning ecosystem that facilitate the ongoing training process of people through the coherent integration of different initiatives”, he maintains. To improve the situation of the sector and promote training in industrial jobs, Confemetal asks to promote training contracts in terms of working hours and salary, improve the contracts of young people linked to the training and those over 45 years of age, and rely on formulas such as dual training, which would also contribute to reducing youth unemployment.

dual vocational training It is a variant of traditional vocational training, in which the student combines training in the educational center with his apprenticeship in a company. Confemetal also calls for betterpray financing and taxation of training that companies offer their workers and that professional training, higher education and continuous training have among their objectives to make the labor market more efficient.


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