Merkel: Worker shortage could force businesses to leave Germany
Germany wants to recruit skilled workers from outside the EU to fill shortages in its labour market. Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the shortage has become so severe that companies could be forced to move away from Germany.
The lack of qualified workers in Germany
Germany’s shortage of highly skilled workers is becoming a serious problem. According to a survey by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), 56 percent of companies stated that the greatest risk to business was the lack of skilled workers. Furthermore, a third of these companies have already hired foreign specialists from both EU and non-EU countries in recent years.
Chancellor Merkel recently echoed this sentiment on her weekly podcast. Merkel acknowledged that a lot of industries and businesses were looking for skilled workers and reaffirmed her government's mission to “make every effort to recruit a sufficient number of specialists.” If they don’t, then Merkel fears this could spark a business exodus.
Germany keen to attract skilled workers through immigration
Chancellor Merkel issued her warning a few days before a summit between representatives of the government, federal states, business and trade unions on the issue of the labour shortage. The summit addressed the issue on how to best implement the Skilled Workers Immigration Act, which is set to come into force on March 1, 2020.
The new set of laws is intended to attract qualified labourers to work in Germany, including those from non-EU territories. A draft of the document called for the employment of more staff and a central unit to streamline applications for visas. The Immigration Act is also set to reduce red tape and offer German language courses that prospective workers can complete from abroad.
Who does Germany need?
Germany is in dire need of care workers and nurses, due to its ageing population. Electrical engineers, metal workers, mechatronics engineers, cooks, computer scientists and software developers are some of the other occupations the government wants to attract. Among others, the government is looking to attract qualified workers from Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil, India and Vietnam.
The Immigration Act has drawn some criticism from sections of the population, who aren’t too happy with the idea of increasing immigration. Labour Minister Hubertus Heil explains that recruitment from abroad is “not about uncontrolled immigration, but about qualified people we need so that our country can remain economically strong in the future.”