There is now a new definition for the luxury problem: This is "when older people often retire too early, young people place more value on free time and immigrants despair of German democracy".

In Maybrit Illner's talk show on Thursday evening, this was how the situation in the German job market was initially described.

Jan Wiele

Editor in the Feuilleton.

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By 2035, the market would be short of seven million workers, already half a million skilled workers, the KfW Bank sees the foundation for growth crumbling, or, to put it even more briefly, Minister of Economics Habeck, who was never at a loss for catchy formulations, in a clip: "It's missing everywhere!"

Everything half as wild?

In view of this diagnosis of the crisis, the group on the subject of “Employees urgently needed – who will secure the economy and prosperity?” seemed quite relaxed, at times almost exuberant in the sense of a willingness to listen to one another and let them speak, to address disputed points very gently at best and here a kind of brainstorming to raise the question of how to deal with the problem.

After Andrea Nahles, former Minister of Labor and now Chairwoman of the Federal Employment Agency, admitted that it would be the biggest problem of the next decade, but smiled confidently, one felt almost comfortably warm.

Others also gave the impression that it might not be half as wild.

He doesn't think it's that bad having to wait up to twelve weeks for a craftsman, said the President of the Central Association of German Crafts, master roofer Jörg Dittrich.

After all, he later admitted that a four-day week for the trades might not be so good if a customer had a broken heating system.

However, he was even able to see a positive aspect of the shortage of skilled workers: if there are fewer workers, the competition and thus the wages for them also increase.

The world is ending and I have to work?

With so much composure and willingness to adapt on the part of the others, it wasn't difficult for Carsten Linnemann, the deputy party leader of the CDU, to immediately come across as very dogged, even with a moderately presented performance ideology.

When a kind of dropout came along, namely Sara Weber, former editor-in-chief at the LinkedIn careers network, who reported how much more comfortable she felt as a freelancer who had escaped the mill and advocated it in terms of less stress and better mental health, Linnemann exclaimed: "If we all work less, we will have less prosperity!"

Linnemann then also brought the concept of “fully comprehensive insurance” into play, which also endangered prosperity.

Sara Weber, who published a book called The World is Ending, and Do I Still Have to Work?, replied that she didn't think such a mentality prevailed.

The turn to less

The moderator Illner then even dared to ask whether "we" should find it desirable at all to still belong to the top countries in terms of prosperity in the future.

But nobody really dared to deny that.

Elisabeth Niejahr, former chief reporter for the "Wirtschaftswoche" and now managing director of the non-profit Hertie Foundation, found that slogans such as "turn to less" were the wrong tones of the Greens.

Challenged in this way, its co-chairman Ricarda Lang dared to do the balancing act that new fields of work such as climate protection would ensure the prosperity of those employed in them.

Raise the gray gold

There was broad agreement that older people should play a role in plugging the demographic gap in the labor market.

In any case, Illner's pointed question "Do the old people have to work again?" seemed to scare no one in the group, at most with a few exceptions in terms of physically exhausting jobs.

Elisabeth Niejahr said that this is regulated by the market, in which older people are increasingly in demand again after interim discrimination and suggested that we learn from the Americans the willingness to always want to start afresh.

Carsten Linnemann even advocated making it possible for those who continue to work after reaching retirement age to do so tax-free.

Of course it should be meaningful and well-paid jobs that help to raise the "gray gold" - everyone agreed on that too.

Golden times are coming!

The discussion that was actually planned, how migration and the future labor market are connected, never came up.

Maybrit Illner was calm enough to just move it to an upcoming show.