Germany's skilled worker shortage reaches new heights

Germany's skilled worker shortage reaches new heights

It’s not just supply chain issues and rising prices that are holding companies in Germany back: according to a new study, a shortage of key skilled workers is also becoming a major issue. 

German companies held back by staff shortages

Germany’s skilled worker shortage has worsened in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, with significant consequences for the economy. 

The report cites two studies by the state development bank KfW and the German Economic Institute (IW). According to the KfW’s latest Skilled Workers Barometer, the proportion of companies in Germany that see themselves as slowed down by a lack of skilled workers on their payroll has doubled in the space of a year. 

With 44 percent of businesses now saying they feel held back by a lack of workers, the figure is twice as high as in 2021 and the largest proportion recorded for this time of year since the survey began in 2011. 

Hundreds of thousands of vacancies with no suitable candidates

The IW, together with the Competence Centre for Skilled Workers (Kofa) reported recently that in March 2022 there were 558.000 vacancies for which there were no suitably qualified unemployed people in Germany - a new record. The shortage also now affects the entire labour market, rather than specific sectors. 

These figures were confirmed by Holger Schwannecke of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts, who told ARD that there “really” was a lack of sufficiently qualified specialists in multiple industries. He blamed the shortfall on the fact that currently, about 100.000 fewer young people graduate from the school system each year than 10 years ago, and that craft professions are no longer considered as prestigious as they used to be. 

The KfW warned that the serious shortage of skilled workers that Germany is facing is having a significant effect which is “probably even more serious in the long-term.” Among other things, the bank called for the government to tempt more skilled professionals to immigrate to Germany. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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ruchirbudhwar2 22:41 | 6 June 2022

Hi Aby, I lived in the US for 7 years before moving to Germany for last 15 years. I think Germany needs to work hard to attract the right and the best skilled workers. Positives for Germany: 1. Great work-life balance 2. Great healthcare. 3. Great educational infrastructure 4. largest Economy in Europe. 5. Positioned well between Asia and US. Yet - the best talent is attracted by USA or UK! If Germany wants to transition from the leader in the manufacturing World to the leader in the Digital world it needs to make itself more friendly for the best and most diverse talent from the globe. And it needs to start with the Universities. German universities have a great infrastructure and are almost free - YET the best students prefer to go to US or UK universities. If Germany can replicate its Football Bundesliga in its Universities I.e. attracting the best talent from the globe, creating a competitive ecosystem ( English based bachelors courses in skill areas like Computer science, Medicine etc, exchange programs for professors form the best US, UK and Indian Universities) then it will create the perfect storm. The best talent will get created there. Furthermore they can charge the international students a reasonable fee ( somewhere lower than what UK, US universities charge). Sadly today the focus is not on skills and talent but the focus is on learning the language. Average or below average skills but speaking the language is more valued than the best talent. Germany needs to be clear what it needs - get average talent to skill them in German Language OR attract the best talent to learn and benefit from them. Taking an example - the best Digital skilled people have to focus on technology re-skilling themselves every year. Language skilling is not on their priority today. Germany focussed on a Export Economy for last 50 years without becoming international itself. Now it needs to import skills and for that it has to make a decision - become more international. Just making immigration easy will not be enough! Food for thought for the new government and the policy makers of Germany!

DanFarzam2 20:40 | 22 June 2022

really? as a civil engineer with having several years of experience living in Germany for about 1.5 years, not even one single company invited me for an interview! rejections after rejection! why? sehr gute Deutsch brauchen wir! unfortunately among the people I know who are in same or similar field with industry knowledge and also professional qualification are doing delivery jobs! please do not write such mind blowing articles and making germany a heaven for jobs and skilled labour. in this country 1) B2/C1 German is required before even considering to give you a chance for interview 2) not all but some choose candidates base on race and gender. one can confirm by just searching for jobs in germany and see their long list requirement! in here skills and experience is meaningless most of the time instead having a B2/C1 makes the candidate to be better than the professional...regardless of industry knowledge... please do not feed people with hope and set their life in dark!

ulrichknabl2 18:25 | 2 July 2022

HI Aby, I also currently live in Germany and have also seen jobs positions remaining vacant especially the it sector. My own industry is massively short of people but the main problem is unless you live in Berlin or Frankfurt the salaries on offer do not match the skills elsewhere in Germany. If you want to attract the right candidates you need to pay the right salary for the skIlls needed. Living in Bitburg near the Luxembourg border I can get what my skills are worth in Luxembourg, Germany just cannot compete with Luxembourg that I understand but Germany must pay good salaries to recognize the skill sets they need. I have had interviews in Germany but the salary offers are just too low and I have to decline the positions. I speak fluent German and a host of other languages more skills that are needed in my industry. Until Germany also moves forward with recognising experience and skill sets especially the crisis will only deepen.

Rafael Gurgel 07:33 | 4 August 2022

Well quite frankly is well deserved for Germany's stupidity in dealing with qualified workers. I since 2009 and until now I have NO permanent visa. I have a bluecard job that I acquired before switching to the bluecard (obviously though EVERY Lawyer says this time should be counted for the Permanent Visa) no worker on the Foreign Office does it, there is always a technicality to say I am not entitled to the permanent Visa. My feelig is they want to keep us on temporary visas to send us out the moment we are not needed anymore. The only reason I am still here is because I dont want to lose the already invested time.

AmroAgami2 17:34 | 6 September 2022

Unfortunately this will be only hurt normal people as usual. Companies executives are so protected and comfortable in their lives that all what they do really when they can't get the job done is crawl to mama government and complain about labour shortages. There is no such thing as labour shortage there are only incompetent people running companies and they are even increasing. When people are happy about how they are treated they'd stay and grow in their career but when they deal with hurdles and drama not only at work they'd leave and change and that what causes the shortages. Living in Germany working in a corporation for 3 years I can confirm that Meritocracy is Screwed.