Germany is losing popularity as a destination for skilled workers

Germany is losing popularity as a destination for skilled workers

A study involving almost 209.000 employees from 190 different countries has revealed that Germany is losing its popularity as a destination for work. However, the federal republic is still the most popular country in Europe for skilled workers, as well as the most popular non-English speaking country.

Germany is losing its shine

A study by the Boston Consultancy Group and The Network, a global careers network, has revealed that the number of people who view Germany as a desirable destination for work is declining. The study, called the Global Talent Survey, involved around 209.000 employees from 190 different countries (including 9.000 from Germany). Participants were asked whether they were willing to work abroad, where their preferred locations for work were and what their attitude was towards working remotely.

The study revealed that Germany has fallen in popularity as a destination for workers; it ranked second place in the 2018 study but has now fallen to fourth. Despite dropping in the rankings, Germany still maintains its crown as the most popular non-English speaking country and the most popular European country. The only countries to rank higher than Germany were Canada, the US and Australia.

The study also found that Berlin was the fourth most popular city for workers, with 13 percent of respondents saying they would move to the city. The German capital has slipped one place since the 2018 study, coming in behind London, Amsterdam and Dubai. However, for respondents who are in possession of a Master’s degree or doctorate, Berlin is the second most popular choice. In the overall rankings, Munich placed 26th, dropping from 23rd in 2018, and Hamburg placed 35th, dropping from 32nd.

The top 10 destinations for work were as follows:

  1. Canada
  2. US
  3. Australia
  4. Germany
  5. UK
  6. Japan
  7. Switzerland
  8. Singapore
  9. France
  10. New Zealand

People don’t want to move abroad

According to the study, people are not so keen to move abroad at the moment, a trend that began even before the outbreak of coronavirus in Germany. Just under half of the people surveyed can imagine moving to another country at the moment; this fell from 57 percent in 2018. The study’s authors suggest that coronavirus restrictions, as well as nationalist tendencies and the rise of remote working, could be reasons why fewer people are considering a move abroad.

Only 45 percent of German respondents said that they would be prepared to move to another country right now and, even then, people aren’t willing to move too far afield. For Germans, five neighbouring countries made it into the top 10 desired places for Germans to move to, with Switzerland and Austria topping the ranking:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Austria
  3. US
  4. Canada
  5. Netherlands
  6. Great Britain
  7. Sweden
  8. Denmark
  9. Spain
  10. France

Only the responses for Germans willing to work abroad were taken into account for this ranking.

Virtual mobility

The fact that more and more people are unwilling to move abroad poses a significant problem for Germany. Germany’s labour force is ageing and, as fewer skilled workers immigrate into the country, there is a lack of upcoming talent in the native workforce.

However, the rise in virtual mobility might solve Germany’s problems. The coronavirus pandemic has forced more people than ever before to work from home, and remote working is becoming more popular. In fact, the study showed that around half of employees work for an international company based abroad. The study’s authors believe that virtual mobility can help to discover new talent pools and promote diversity.

Respondents from the following countries demonstrated the highest willingness to find work in Germany:

  1. Kosovo
  2. Austria
  3. Albania
  4. Hungary
  5. Bulgaria
  6. Turkey
  7. Romania
  8. Serbia
  9. Poland
  10. Croatia

The Global Talent Survey

For more information regarding the Global Talent Survey, including the full report and methodology, visit The Network's website.

William Nehra


William Nehra

William studied a masters in Classics at the University of Amsterdam. He is a big fan of Ancient History and football, particularly his beloved Watford FC.

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