German public sector has 360.000 vacant positions, dbb says

German public sector has 360.000 vacant positions, dbb says

Public services in Germany are desperately understaffed, with the civil service association dbb estimating that 360.000 public service jobs are currently vacant across the country.

German public sector experiencing extreme staff shortages

Bürgeramte, Finanzamte, immigration offices, schools, the police - many public services in Germany are bucking under the workload caused by extreme staff shortages. Across the country, 360.000 positions are already empty, with a further 1,3 million set to be made vacant by employees retiring between now and 2030.

Germany’s trade unions have long been raising the alarm bells. “If politicians do not take countermeasures, there is a threat of a staffing collapse," board member of the Education and Science Union (GEW) Daniel Merbitz told Funke Mediengruppe.

Germany’s vicious cycle of teacher and Kita staff shortages

According to Merbitz, primary and secondary education services are currently one of the worst affected by shortages, having already been “notably underfunded for decades”. 

A recent parliamentary inquiry initiated by the Left Party has found that childcare services in Germany are on the brink of collapse - during 2021, Germany was already lacking 378.000 open spots at Kitas and daycare facilities.

Merbitz pointed out that the decades-long underfunding has resulted in a vicious cycle. Shortages mean more work for those still employed, leading to more overtime hours, high stress and ultimately, more people wanting to leave. “Many employees in the education sector go into part-time work to escape personal stress and overload,” Merbitz explained.

A similar situation is unfolding higher up in the German school system, with an estimated 50.000 positions at German schools thought to be vacant.

Does the German government have a plan of action?

So what is on the agenda to turn the current situation around? The German government is currently shaking up its immigration policy with a new points-based system and banking on the hope that eased routes to working in Germany will encourage the 1,5 million new people it needs to welcome each year for public services and businesses to keep running. Running smoothly is another question.

How the government plans to adequately welcome new arrivals while Germany is in the throws of its worst housing crisis in 20 years and immigration offices have been called “nigh dysfunctional” due to a lack of administrative staff, remains to be seen.

Some rules may also be relaxed when it comes to applicant requirements; most recently the FDP called on the government to reduce German language requirements for people working in childcare.

Advances are also being made to encourage more young people to take up apprenticeships since the number of people entering vocational training dropped following the pandemic.

Thumb image credit: Pradeep Thomas Thundiyil /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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