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IMMIGRATION

Merkel blasts economy minister’s plan to recruit skilled migrants

Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Federal Employment Agency on Monday rejected an Economy Ministry proposal to accelerate recruitment for skilled migrants, saying Germany should focus on its own potential instead.

Merkel blasts economy minister's plan to recruit skilled migrants
Photo: DPA

Last week, pro-business Free Democrat and Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle said that a major recruitment drive to attract skilled migrants was in the works, including programmes to encourage German firms to pay cash incentives to lure foreign workers.

Economists agree that Germany’s export-driven economy, which relies heavily on skilled workers such as engineers to develop its high-end manufactured goods to sell overseas, will be gradually eroded in years to come by a dearth of such qualified professionals.

But on Monday Merkel’s deputy spokesperson Cristoph Steegmans said that new rules put into place in January 29 were already having a positive effect on the situation, making Brüderle’s new proposal unnecessary.

That law had changed the minimum yearly income level for skilled workers from €86,400 to €63,600. According to Steegmans, Merkel believes this rule should be readdressed first.

The comments from the spokesperson followed those from Frank Jürgen Weise, head of the Federal Employment Agency, who also spoke against Brüderle’s plan, telling daily Financial Times Deutschland that the country should look inwards for solutions to the shrinking workforce.

“The existing potential in country should be used first,” he told the paper. “We can’t allow people to remain unemployed only because their talents aren’t being used.”

Brüderle’s plan should only be a second option, he added.

“Those who want to have and keep qualified employees must offer something – and the companies can decide on that themselves,” he said, adding that one important option would be providing much-needed child care for the many skilled women in Germany.

But the Association of German Engineers (VDI) welcomed Brüderle’s idea.

“The skilled labour shortage will intensify due to demographic developments, particularly in the engineering sector,” director Willi Fuchs said, adding that currently there are some 36,000 unfilled engineering jobs.

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GERMAN CITIZENSHIP

TEST: Could you pass the German citizenship exam?

Obtaining German citizenship involves clearing numerous hurdles - including a multiple-choice citizenship test that will quiz you on your knowledge of German history, culture, geography and politics. Could you pass it?

TEST: Could you pass the German citizenship exam?

The German passport is one of the most powerful in the world – but getting your hands on one is no mean feat. 

Alongside strict residency and language requirements, people who want to become a naturalised German citizenship will have to sit an exam known as the Einbürgerungstest (Citizenship Test).

The exam is designed to ensure that migrants understand important aspects of Germany’s political system, like the rights enshrined in the constitution, and can deal with aspects of day to day life and culture in the Bundesrepublik.

READ ALSO: TEST: Is your German good enough for citizenship or permanent residency?

Additionally, there are usually questions on important milestones in German history such as the Second World War and the GDR, and you may encounter some geography questions and questions on the European Union as well. 

The test is in German and consists of 33 questions: 30 questions on Germany in general, and three related to the specific federal state you live in. 

It’s all in German, so people sitting the exam need to be fairly confident with their reading skills – but since it’s multiple choice, writing skills thankfully aren’t required. 

Though this may sound daunting, people are given a full hour to complete the test – and, anecdotally, most tend to finish much more quickly than that. You also only need to score 17 out of 33 (so just over 50 percent) to pass.

In addition, there are only a set number of questions that the Citizenship Test alternates between. You can find a list of all of them (in German) here, and also take a German-language practice test here.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How I got German citizenship – and how you can too

If you’d like to test your knowledge in English, however, we’ve put together a representative list of 16 questions to get you started. Viel Glück! (Good luck!) 

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