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Will the market run out of painters, and should we be worried? 

Labour shortage is one of the major challenges the European professional paint industry is facing. Because the outflow of labour, mainly due to retirement, exceeds the inflow of labour in the form of new generations of painters, labour shortages are an ever increasing problem for professional paint companies.   

That is why we have been monitoring labour shortages for many years in USP Marketing Consultancy’s Painter Insight Monitor, which covers professional painters in 11 major European markets. According to the findings of the 2022 report, an even larger percentage of the 2200 interviewed painters is expecting to be affected by labour shortages. 

Even more European painters perceive shortages of skilled painters 

Three quarters of European painters stated that there are shortages of skilled painters in their country in 2022, a major rise from the 64-65% of the previous two years. As in previous years, shortages seem most pressing in Germany and the Netherlands, where 90% of painters see labour shortages in their sector.  

In most other countries, perception of shortages increased significantly, and the most dramatic growth is seen in Spain. In 2021, Spanish painters were least affected, with only 45% reporting that there were shortages of skilled painters. In 2022, that percentage exploded to a whopping 69%. In Denmark, perceived shortages rose from 56% in 2020 to 85% in 2022. 

Only 7% of painters are below 35 years of age

As can be seen in the image, the average age of the European painter is still increasing. The baby boomer generation (now 58 years or older) is represented by about a quarter of the painters and will leave the market for a well-earned retirement within a decade.  

Meanwhile, the youngest generation of painters, those under 35 years of age, is decreasing year by year, most recently from 10% in 2020 to merely 7% of painters in 2022. Given these trends, which show the above-mentioned outflux of labour outweighing the influx of labour, it is clear that labour shortages will be plaguing European painters even more in the years to come.     

Meanwhile, painters’ workloads increase 

As labour shortages eat at the supply side of the painting practise, demand is high. More than half of the European painters expects their workload to increase in 2022. The net result is that fewer painters have to do more paint jobs, putting a lot of pressure on painting companies throughout Europe.  

For manufacturers of paint and paint-related products, there is an opportunity to help and alleviate the situation of painters. This can be any solution that saves time and improves efficiency on the paint jobs themselves or on other jobs that occupy the painter, like the search for information on products.  

In relation to the media orientation of professional painters, which is the theme topic of the 2022 Painter Insight Monitor, manufacturers could help save time and improve efficiency by providing instruction videos and easy-to-find online product information and product sheets, for instance. For an overview of trends and opportunities in 11 European markets, USP Marketing Consultancy’s 2022 Painter Insight Monitor is now available.  

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