The Wielkopolska Region is seeing a steady increase in the population. At the end of 2019, the region was inhabited by almost 3,494,000 people. In terms of population, the region continues to be ranked third in the country, after the Mazowieckie and Śląskie regions. Wielkopolska’s population accounts for 9.1% of the country’s total.
In 2019, the population structure by place of residence was dominated by urban population, urban residents constituted 54.0% of the region's population. The structure of the population by sex has not changed, the share of women in the population was 51.3%.
In the Wielkopolska region, as in the country, changes in the population structure by economic age groups have been noted. In 2019, the share of people at the post-working age increased again to 20.4% The share of working age population dropped to 60.1% of the region’s inhabitants.
The Wielkopolska Region is one of the most dynamically developing regions country-wise. Substantial production capacity, well developed tertiary sector, great agricultural productivity, and high level of entrepreneurship are just some of the factors contributing to the region’s economic growth. The potential of Wielkopolska makes it attractive to Polish and foreign investors.
Demographic changes occurring in Wielkopolska, although less dynamic than in the country, indicate that the population structure will soon change from stagnant to regressive one, characterized by low birth rate with simultaneous increase in the average life expectancy. This means that the share of older people in the total population will increase. This situation will have a direct impact on the labour market, as the proportions in age groups will change, thus affecting the availability of the workforce. The ageing of the population will contribute to the demographic burden of the region, thereby forcing changes to the labour market, education, healthcare and social welfare systems.
Due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was unique for the labor market and the economy of the region. Unexpected changes in the business environment have raised concerns about the maintenance of employment, and the market has reacted differently from month to month. The unemployment rates in the region slightly deteriorated compared to the rest of the country, which may be related to the fact that the Wielkopolska region’s economy was based on sectors that were less sensitive to the pandemic slowdown. The registered unemployment rate at the end of the year was 3.7% (an increase by 0.9 percentage points compared to 2019) and was still the lowest in the country. In the same period, the unemployment rate in Poland was 6.2%. What is more, the region is diversified in terms of the scale of unemployment in individual districts, i.e. it varies from 2.0% in the Poznań district to 8.6% in the Konin district. The registered unemployment in the region at the end of December 2020 was at the level of 60,958 people, which is 31.6% more than in December of the previous year.
The economic activity of the region's inhabitants is high compared to the rest of the country. In 2020, the labour force participation rate for Wielkopolska’s working age population was 78.5% (5th place in the country). Furthermore, Wielkopolska is noted for one of the highest employment rates country-wise (regarding population aged 18-59/64), which in 2020 was 77.1% (3rd place in the country). Both of those rates decreased compared to 2019.
In recent years, a systematic increase in the number of employed has been recorded in the Wielkopolska Region. In 2019, more than 1.58 million people had a job. Most of them work in the tertiary sector (54.9%), nearly every third resident of Wielkopolska (31.7%) works in the industrial and construction sector, while the smallest group is hired in the agro-forestry sector (13.4%).
In 2020, for another consecutive year, the number of offers submitted to the Wielkopolska labour offices decreased. The, employers submitted 87,222 job offers, i.e. 5.5% less than in 2019. The most sought after professions included: low-skilled workers (also from the industry sector), salesmen, warehousemen, farm workers, drivers of vans, housekeepers (in hotels and offices), auxiliary construction workers, office technicians, auxiliary workers in the processing industry, drivers, forklift operators.
Based on an expert survey called the “Occupation Barometer” the 2021 estimates suggest 46 shortage occupations at the regional level. Most of these professions has been sought after in Wielkopolska for a long time. These are mainly occupations in industries such as: transport and logistics and construction, vocational education, industrial processing (including food and furniture industries), medical care, uniformed services. In the estimates for 2021, new among the shortage professions are: reinforcer and a concrete mixer operators, confectioners, computer graphic designers, psychologists and psychotherapists. For another year in a row, there are no surplus occupations in the forecast for Wielkopolska.
The staffing problems in many professional groups are influenced by the shortage of employees with a high level of professional skills and up-to-date knowledge within their profession. According to experts, this applies, inter alia, to construction industry, TSL industry (truck drivers), beauty industry (hairdressers, beauticians), gastronomy (cooks), automotive industry (car tinsmiths and painters, car mechanics), accounting and bookkeeping services (accounting and bookkeeping staff and independent accountants). It is not only a matter of the aging of the workforce, but also of shortages in the practical skills of young apprentices and the need to constantly replenish knowledge and skills. Often, the difficulties in finding an employee are additionally aggravated by specific working conditions, e.g. those that make it difficult to reconcile work and family life, low salaries, work in difficult conditions that discourage employment.
In the situation of shortages of employees with vocational education, the projected deficit of teaching staff responsible for vocational education (teachers of vocational subjects and teachers of practical vocational training) is also a cause for concern. In terms of these professions, we have to deal with the aging of employees, but also with the aging of their knowledge and skills in relation to the realities of the profession they teach on the market.
In 2021, most of the districts in Wielkopolska will have a shortage of low-skilled workers (also from the industry sector). Employment in this professional group is usually associated with low wages, low social prestige and hard working conditions. Despite the pandemic, the employment of foreigners is still the basic source of employment for this group of professions.
Personnel shortages in the healthcare sector are particularly important, which is currently the result of the strongly felt shortages in this sector in the face of the pandemic. In most districts, it is forecast that the problems with recruiting doctors (mainly specialists), qualified nurses and midwives with valid licenses, and paramedics will persist.
The average gross salary in Wielkopolska in 2018 amounted to PLN 4,687.39, which, despite the year-on-year increase, accounted for 90.5% of the average salary in the country (9th place in the country). Only in the City of Poznań district the average salary exceeded the national average and amounted to PLN 5,713.03.
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