In order to compensate for its growing worker shortage, Germany will need to attract hundreds of thousands of immigrants in the coming years, the head of the Federal Employment Agency has warned.
Germany running out of skilled workers
“Germany is running out of skilled workers,” said Detlef Scheele, chairperson of the Federal Employment Agency (BA) in an interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Monday. He warned that demographic developments will see the number of working-age people in Germany increase by almost 150.000 this year – and in the coming years it will be “much more dramatic.”
“From care and air conditioning to logisticians and academics: There will be a shortage of skilled workers everywhere,” Scheele said. “I don’t understand why nobody is talking about this.”
He said that the problem could only be solved by training up unskilled workers, helping women involuntarily working part-time hours to do more, and – most importantly of all – by bringing more immigrants to Germany. “We need 400.000 immigrants a year,” Scheele said. “In other words: significantly more than in previous years.” He added it was about “targeted immigration [to fill] gaps in the labour market.”
Coronavirus has exacerbated Germany’s worker shortage
The idea of boosting skilled migration to Germany is not a new one. In an attempt to fill more jobs in Germany for Indians, the government in March 2020 introduced the Skilled Workers Immigration Act, which was designed to accelerate visa and residence permit applications for workers with sought-after vocational skills.
That same month, however, marked the beginning of the first wave of coronavirus in Germany and the first national lockdown. The accompanying restrictions on travel have since only exacerbated the problem; last year was the first time in a decade that the population of Germany did not grow. The number of applications for recognition of foreign professional qualifications – a key indicator of levels of skilled migration – also fell by 3 percent in 2020.