The German economy has been complaining about the continuing shortage of skilled workers for years. A new survey by the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) shows that 56 percent of companies consider it the greatest business risk.
A third of all companies have hired foreign specialists in recent years. But not everyone wants to go to Germany. Among the 30 countries of the OECD, Germany only ranks 12th among skilled workers from abroad in terms of attractiveness, as a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation shows.
With a new skilled worker immigration law, politicians want to make it easier for skilled workers from non-EU countries to find their way to Germany. The topic was also discussed at yesterday's summit in the Chancellery. Alexander Kubis from the Institute for Labor Market and Vocational Research (IAB) explains what needs to happen so that specialists from abroad like to work in Germany and how effective the law is.
ZEIT ONLINE: How big is the problem of the shortage of skilled workers in Germany?
Alexander Kubis: Last year, 3.87 million people got a job in Germany that was subject to social security contributions. That sounds like a lot, but it's not enough. We are still seeing increasing demand for personnel in many industries. In total there are over 1.3 million job vacancies with a simultaneous decline in unemployment. In many areas, one can therefore speak of a shortage of skilled workers.
Dr. Alexander Kubis studied economics and received his doctorate in 2009. He worked as a research assistant at the Institute for Economic Research Halle (IWH) and has been a research assistant at the Institute for Labor Market and Vocational Research since 2011 © IAB
ZEIT ONLINE: Which industries are affected?
Kubis: Above all the craft and especially the construction. There is also a major bottleneck in technical professions or in the healthcare sector. Incidentally, this not only affects not only specialists or masters, but also classic training occupations such as drivers or geriatric nurses. It is clear: we need immigration from abroad. Without them, a third fewer people will be available on the job market in Germany in 2060 than today. This damages the economy significantly.
ZEIT ONLINE: What changes the new law?
Kubis: It leads to clear regulations. Before there were many different laws in the area. The new law bundles requirements for immigration from third countries. And that is needed, because immigration from Europe will not be enough to compensate for our skills shortage in the labor market. Quite simply because society is aging in these countries too and its own market workers are needed. In the Czech Republic, for example, there is the lowest unemployment rate in Europe - skilled workers are also missing here.
ZEIT ONLINE: Since foreign vocational qualifications are not always comparable to German qualifications, the economy should help with its own educational institutions. Language programs are also to be expanded. Does this make sense?
Kubis: Definitely. Language is one of the most important building blocks for integration and vocational training is the responsibility of companies. But it should actually be a matter of better recognizing the professional qualifications of specialists from abroad. We would need more acceptance of certificates and degrees to enable quick and uncomplicated immigration from third countries.
ZEIT ONLINE: Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) had previously said that the processing of visa applications would be increased and digitized. What does it do?
Kubis: I think that makes sense because the previous procedures take far too long.
ZEIT ONLINE: The FDP demands a points system like in Canada. The system awards points for age, language skills, training and work experience - a maximum of 1,200. Those who achieve the points get a work and residence permit. What do you make of it?
Kubis: Such a system would be worth considering. Because even then the question arises as to whether this would bring more skilled workers into the country. Since the vocational qualifications also have to be recognized under this regulation, it is very likely that this will also take a long time
ZEIT ONLINE: Instead, the state deports tolerated people who work in industries affected by the skills shortage. Should he give them a permanent right of residence?
Kubis: Immigration for reasons of work or humanitarian need is clearly separated in Germany. Qualifications and language skills are important for the former. I personally think that people who meet these points should definitely be kept on the German job market. Refugees should stay if they are just as qualified as skilled workers are so that they can immigrate to Germany.
ZEIT ONLINE: How can integration succeed if we recruit specialists?
Kubis: First we need a positive picture of immigration. People need to be aware that immigration also secures their jobs in Germany and our social systems. If wages become more attractive and we work on the openness of our society, we can succeed. We are all challenged.