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Jobs unfilled as Germans fail to qualify yet foreigners unwelcome

DDP/DPA/The Local · 14 Aug 2010, 10:58

Published: 14 Aug 2010 10:58 GMT+02:00

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A survey conducted for the WirtschaftsWoche magazine showed 66% of the free positions did not attract qualified applicants, while in 26% of cases nobody at all applied.

“The lack of labour is developing into a dangerous brake on growth, particularly for small and medium-sized companies,” said Marie-Christine Ostermann, chairwoman of the employers’ association Young Businesses-BJU, which co-commissioned the survey.

Eight percent of the 450 businesses questioned for the poll said they had declined contracts during the first half of 2010 because they did not have enough staff to take on the extra work.

Ostermann said a growing lack of engineers, information technology experts and scientists could only be reversed by companies looking abroad for workers.

She called for the work permit rules to be changed so that highly qualified workers from outside the European Union can work in Germany more easily – specifically reducing the minimum wage they have to attract from the current level of €65,000 to €40,000 a year.

Those in the trades are also looking abroad to fill gaps in their personnel, the Wirtschaftswoche reported, with those companies particularly in the east of the country bringing in young workers from Poland and the Czech Republic.

They are being offered training places, said Otto Kentzler, president of the central association of German Trades, ZDH.

He said the Cottbus trades guild is offering a guaranteed training place to foreigners who first complete a German language course.

Kentzler called for an image campaign to make the idea of coming to Germany to train and work more appealing to young people from other countries.

“Germany has to create a clear picture of itself in the world, it must become more interesting for young people, as a destination for study and training,” he said.

Yet another survey this weekend showed widespread opposition to the idea of highly-qualified foreigners coming to work in Germany.

Of those questioned in the Tns Emnid poll for Focus magazine, 54 percent said they were against letting qualified foreigners immigrate, while 42 percent said they were in favour.

Particularly those from the east of the country, older people and those who said they were supporters of the socialist Left party were against such influx of workers.

Story continues below…

Of those in the east, 61 percent said they opposed the idea, while only 52 percent from the west were against it. Of those aged between 14 and 29, 42 percent did not want to see qualified foreigners coming here to work, while 60 percent of those over 50 were against.

When broken down according to political affiliation, those who said they voted for The Left were most strongly against foreigners coming here to work, with 64 percent opposed, although those who voted for the conservative Christian Democrats, were not far behind with 60 percent against.

The number of Germans without work is expected to dip below three million this autumn, said Dieter Hundt, president of the employers’ association at the weekend.

“I am very optimistic that unemployment will go under the three-million-mark in the autumn. We are experiencing a surprisingly strong upswing, it is booming in many sectors,” he told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper on Saturday.

DDP/DPA/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:14 August 14, 2010 by catjones
Since when do highly skilled jobs require a "year" of training? That's an insult to the people who put in years of education, experience and hard work to get where they are.
13:08 August 14, 2010 by Gerd1965
There are e.g. unemployed engineers and computer specialists in their forties who don't get a job because they are "too old" or their skills are outdated. If you give them a year of traineeship they can update their skills and an employer can survey their performance. But this means that someone pays for this traineeship and takes the risk. But german employers are not really flexible and doesn't want to take risks, so its better to complain about missing skilled workers. Thats just an old game of german capitalists to reduce their own risks and pass it to public service and taxpayers.

Another game is to call for foreign workers. Of course it would be no problem e.g. for spanish or english workers to come to Germany and work here. But those european workers want to have good wages and german employers want to flatten their costs, so it would be really nice to get cheap but skilled workers from China or India. So, lets cry about immigration barriers! If only employees from EU are allowed to work in Germany this doesn't work, because they are well paid enough (or even better paid) in their own countries and they prefer to stay in their own culture. But when all skilled foreign workers are allowed to work in Germany for smaller wages this flattens the level of wages in Germany.

Capitalists logic makes me vomit!
14:00 August 14, 2010 by Gerd1965
Bigger companies have training facilities but they mostly train the younger people.

But circumstances should force companies to train also the older one's. Some companies do so because they are really desperat. Thats the way it should work! Of course it takes years to get a diploma as an engineer or scientist but it takes only months to upgrade skills of unemployed graduated people. Companies spend much money for one-year traineeships for young graduated people. I think they shall spend this money also for older graduated or just intelligent people who want to learn and perform! This works also for craftspeople in their kind of jobs, sometimes intelligent people without diploma can also do the work of graduated people if you give them a chance. Running a company is not a licence to print money you also have to invest and take risks! But many german companies prefer to cry and complain...and let their employees do the work for the "missing" skilled workers. That's cheaper!
16:45 August 14, 2010 by eli1
why you will like to go to a country where +60% of the people don't agree about you been there? even if they need you?...
17:56 August 14, 2010 by Fatz Lewinski
I came to Germany without any formal qualification, learnt German in a factory and then went on 9 months of Umschulung. After 6 months of Praktikant (at 39!) I started in an IT company at the age of 40 and now have a middle management position with a high salary. I don't live in a big city either.

German companies will take the risk on older, less qualified workers if you show a willingness to work. Now let me tell you about the Germans on my Umschulung ... Of the 20 in my class, 1 is still on a career roll. 8 years on, most of the rest are still unemployed because the "conditions weren't right", because they were expected to travel, because they had to go to a big city, etc.

When I started in my first factory job, I was told by an old guy that if one wants to work in Germany, one can find work.

Been true for me!
22:53 August 14, 2010 by strahlungsamt
You've got to be kidding me!!!

I'm an IT professional, experienced in Java and PHP and a bunch of other stuff. I'm also totally fluent in German.

I was in Berlin about 2 years ago and I couldn't get a job to save my life.

First of all, the place was oversaturated with other software developers better qualified than me.

Second of all, they were making on average 800 euros a month before tax - about 60% to support an ailing health system and an aging non-workforce.

Third, I didn't want (and still don't want) to move to Bad Currywurst and be bored out of my mind.
00:54 August 15, 2010 by chicagolive
Until Germany learns to take more risk they will continue to have this problem for all the air and bluster they pull about how economically sound they are in reality it is only bull, of course you can have low unemployment when people are mostly working €400 Euro jobs, they don't talk about that Germany has one of the fastest rates of rich to poor separation or that the vast majority of these "employed" people are living below the poverty level.

Germany is not having a problem of qualified people they are having a problem of these people wanting to stay in Germany and the government and the companies don't seem to understand this at all. Case point(I got many)a close friend of mines works in a major German company as a lead project manager his Gross is about 75,000 his netto is €40,000(about $51,008) he meets a person in the same level position from the US 3 years younger who makes $130,000(€101,944.79)per year netto know tell me this where would you rather go.
01:19 August 15, 2010 by William Thirteen
indeed, the same depressed labor costs which have kept Germany competitive in the international markets have also made it a less attractive destination for skilled workers who can make more of the long green (or blue, peach, rose etc.) elsewhere...
08:13 August 15, 2010 by mrsams
Yes you are right, US have a higher wages when you compared manager or diplom people because they are not paying all this different social services to the govt. The guy who is earning 130,000 he has a choice if he had to pay for pflege versicherung etc....and if he had children he had to save or spent more than half of his bulk of wages for the tuition especially university ,also has to save more for the future because theirs no govt. who will provide roof when he lost his jobs and full of credits, when he don't have that preparation, he will stay in the tent outside for his whole life and the education of the children will also ruin.

Even more worst when you are not highly qualified there.

A better house in the US? they all have a better house and cars compared to the germans who are just mostly renting because even if you are just normal workers in a factory there, you can easily go to the bank to get mortgage for a big house with a swimming pool, where are this people now ?? during economic crisis?where are their houses now???? Germans will just laugh at them.
11:14 August 15, 2010 by mrsams
That is true,there is a 2 or 3 years training for this kinds of works,that's why Germany have a high reputation of qualities where the whole world like to get their products,because the workers here know what they are doing because of all the long trainings .

That's the secret of their success "high quality", where people from other countries displaying the MADE IN GERMANY as their status symbol.

But anyway Germany from the start after the war is always a " wonder "
20:41 August 15, 2010 by Kdude
For mrsams

I don't normally responding to the stupidity people write here but you forced me. As a general Contractor (Master Builder here) in the States I am held to a very high standard of craftmanship. I just had my home redone here in Germany by a "Master Builder" Trained for years in his trade. This was the worst example of German craftsmanship one could imagine. Not one thing this well trained guy touched is correct or even close to it. To be honest I have guys that have 1/4 of this builders training and do 100% better job. This HIGHLY TRAINED builder is now being sued for over 40,000 Euros. There was a time when made in Germany meant something, but not any more, From my VW being in the shop being repaired more often than being in my garage or being driven to workers who can't do the jobs they are trained to do, Germany is falling behind.

I have had a housing inspector, an Attorney, builder,mechanic, and others that I have hired and proved you so very very wrong here. Get out of your little hole and check out the rest of the world before you speak. People don't want to work here because the German Goverment pays them the same if not more to stay home and with no end in site to the free money, oh wait it isn't free my taxes pay for it. I do love this country and grew up here, but have had a chance to compare it to many other countries, and so my friend I am telling you, Take off your rose coloured glasses and wake up! You have no idea what you are talking about!!!!!!!!!
21:19 August 15, 2010 by Hunt2871
There are many reasons why Germany can't find enough high skill employees. Among them is the cost of living, the climate, the exploitation of the skilled workers who do agree to come to Germany (can you say no insurance for dependents?) and the fact that most Germans would just as soon no foreigners, save Austrians and a select handfull of Dutch, ever set foot on German soil. What I don't understand, after having worked with Germans for a couple of years now, is how there are any German employers left to begin with. If it were not for the national security subsidy afforded Germans and Germany that is taken directly out of the pocket of U.S.citizens they would not be able to compete and there would not be a shortage of high skilled employees.
23:22 August 15, 2010 by BR549
I think Germany is too careful,complicated and cautious, When it comes to Human Resources. Corporations should practice cross-training and quit practiscing the negative "you can't" outlook on life instead of the "YOU CAN!!!" The people in this country have been led long enough by OLD, NEGATIVE managers who keep people down instead of using encouragement. All I ever see is what is VERBOTEN, not what is ERLAUBT. "Stupid is as stupid does"...as quoted by the great philosopher GUMP.
01:36 August 16, 2010 by PLengineer
Hi guys!

It's really nice to follow your discussion.

I am an Engineer from Poland - and from electronics/medical market.

I can see your problems that you have not enough engineers etc.

But you have good relations between prices of food related to you monthly earn.

-correction- From my point of view.

What I mean - please help me to understand - how it is that in my local shops and discounts i have this same prices for food like you have in Germany (and other countries, where i have had opportunity to be) and as an production engineer i earn 650EUR/month!

This is amazing. I have lucky that i have diploma and good job i but lot of people works for 375 / month after 10 years of work... And they have to spend this same money like you have to in EU.

What is amazing also is that the lot of new companies in Poland were opened (with abroad assets) and in the same time lot of polish companies were closed. I cannot believe that "my" goverment let to close all shipyards and to let go abroad all native human qualified resources to german's and scandinavian's ship-markets - but this is another long story.

What can i feel now - it will not sounds good - but after 50-years of russian's occupation - i feel like a negro-slayer ;) i am qualyfied engineer and i am earning just arround 650 EUR per month and i have exactly the same prices in shops than you have. Thats why so many companies decide to move production to Poland. we are well qualified and very cheep. And there is allways lot of hands to work.

But generally I am able to predict that after next 50 years the nation would be reach and old and then we probable have to look for some new cheap and qualified - assian / affrica resources. But first i need to find out good government because this one is still (sic!) corrupted and indicted from communist's elites.
12:47 August 16, 2010 by steve_glienicke
A lot of good points made here, i think the most significant point is on the requirement of a "ausbildung" for doing meanial jobs, I.e working in a supermarket, why do you need 2 years of training to stick a tin of baked beans on the shelf! or 2 years of training to fry a hamburger in Mc.D's! for christs sake, these are the kind of jobs we all did to make some cash while studying in the UK and im sure in the U.S too, or for housewifes looking for a little extra cash for themself or the family, my wife joined me in Germany, has no ausbildung of course but looks for any kind of work so she dont go out of her mind at home, she applies for jobs in supermarkets and so on that are still advertising 1 year later, all because she does not have a piece of paper to say she knows how to put that tin of beans on the shelf! its ridiculous, thats the first thing they need to change, for highly skilled jobs it is fully acceptable you have the right qualifications, but working in Mc.D's give me a break will you!
17:07 August 16, 2010 by wagnha
This is a very complicated issue that encompasses politics, economics, business practices, etc. The world is becoming more globalized each day and we are competing not only within our own countries but with foreign countries for resources, markets, production, highly skilled workers, and cheap labor, etc.

Within westernized countries, there is a perception by the citizens that foreign workers are coming in and taking jobs. Business say they can't get enough workers. Workers don't want to work for low wages. Low paying jobs are available and are filled by workers that are desperate or to foreigners that think it is a well paying job compared to their homeland.

Politicians want to give the appearance of protecting jobs for citizens, but they also know that there are jobs that people don't want to do because of the nature of the job and low pay and also that often highly skilled and specialized workers are needed because there is always some unmet demand. Germany has a declining birthrate......you need more people.

The US has plenty of people and there isn't any complaint of bringing in highly skilled, educated, successful people. They don't want the uneducated and unskilled people.......only to pick the crops and clean the office buildings. The US problem is that too many people go to college and get degrees. The degrees are in things that often there is no need for. They need more trade schools that give people skills needed in middle income non-professional jobs. There are so many college educated people some day you will need a masters to become a garbage truck driver.

In the US there seems to be less loyalty between employers and workers. Germany is becoming more like the US. This is because of global competition.
02:31 August 17, 2010 by Logic Guy
Well, the country just needs to become more efficient and conservative. Germany has more than 80 miilion people.

Elect rational leaders, improve the education system, promote work over welfare and then everything will be fine.

The answer to all of Germany's problems is actually quite simple. Just base everything on Efficient-Conservatism.

They can't possibly go wrong with this concept. It is the most brilliant system ever.
10:45 August 17, 2010 by asteriks
Capitalism can't make better economy, therefore it has component called fascism: limitation for people on the basis of their nationality. What's happened with capitalist idea about free competition, among workers, not only among companies? The only solution is to change system.

Second thing, nationalism in education bring professors to put their nose high (they become überheblich) and they demand too much from students, therefore Germany has problem with lack of high educated people. To pass exams is Swiss is so easy that they pass crowd of exams after 5th semester, they don\t pass exams every year than crowd of it in several days after 5th and after 9th semester. So, only 2 times they have exams in 9 semesters and rarely someone don't succeed. What can I say, German's should educate in Basel, or other Swiss cities, then come back to work in Germany (theoretically, of course, people who live near Swiss, they work in Swiss and live in Germany). So, change your professors and education system, don't be so proud that you demand so much from students and result is: they fail at their exams. Real education is at job, school is just making people ready for real jobs, ask people who finished Faculty of Law, why they must make practicum 2 years after finished faculty? Because school is one thing and real job other thing.
15:21 August 17, 2010 by dbert4
Logic Guy - Wow aren't you the brilliant one! An example of, "Efficient-Conservatism." other than yourself would be.........? Let me guess the USA!!
21:35 August 17, 2010 by queenS
Since when is this minimum of 65kEUR? I worked in Germany some years ago on a working permit for far less than that.
12:46 August 18, 2010 by BooRadley
I can agree with Mr. Glienicke that the ausbildung requirement is seriously overdone(if that's his opinion). I left a good paying customer service job servicing a major bank in the U.S. to be with my partner here. I hadn't finished college but it didn't matter there. That job and the job I had before it trained you for 6 weeks and you were ready. Couldn't say that a three year ausbildung would've made me any better prepared. I'd also had experience in Alterpflege and working with juvenile offenders. None of that matters now. No cert. No job. Sometimes I wonder if the system was engineered in part (or maintained) to keep foreigners out. Could be an unfounded belief but at any rate it was anything but a warm welcome.
22:19 August 31, 2010 by clarseach83
It's a complex problem, of course. I teach English to unemployed people in Berlin and time and time again, they apply for job after job and get nothing. Some are too old. Others are over-qualified. Yes, over-qualified. Then there's the certification problem. Among the foreigners, they are usually extremely capable. I don't know how many chemical engineers and the like I've had who ended up selling cigarettes from a U-Bahn kiosk. They, however, are willing to take the jobs that come available for the sake of their families because they don't have benefits to fall back on. Neither do I and so I work as hard and as much as I can. The local people I teach are highly unlikely to take or even apply for anything outside of their skill set and have very specific ideas about what they are willing to accept. This sounds bad, but they also tell me that if they take a lower level job, even if they were a high-level manager or something before, they will never get back to their old position. The next job is always based on the last one, never on life experience. So there are a lot of elements here; the ridiculous certification requirements that have no bearing on the reality of the job, the hopelessly restrictive educational system that forces people into tightly defined careers at an early age, the unwillingness of employers to pay, the unwillingness of workers to take less and the very real fear they have of being stuck with less forever if they do take it. One thing I have never come across, even dealing with people forced to take English against their will by the Arbeitsamt, is someone truly unwilling to work. I don't believe in the whole "milking the system" bit. There are always those who do, but nearly everyone is willing to work. The one thing I will grant is that unemployment benefits, though not Hartz IV, can sometimes be higher than what a job would pay. See "cheap employers." I'm a progressive and I believe strongly in welfare and a just society, but I do not believe that you have a natural right to a job that gives you loads of free time, a comfortable middle-class lifestyle from the get-go and a deep sense of personal fulfillment. I think people should be willing to work their way up. I also, however, agree with others here that employers don't give people any chance to work their way up if they want to, Both sides want all their criteria fulfilled from the start. Employees want their Weiterbildung paid for, which I can't see as reasonable. Employers want extensive training and experience but aren't willing to provide the chance to get it. I know that they say there are Ausbildungsplätze to spare, but so many of them are for niche jobs that dead-end into, at best, one year contracts and no hope of being more widely usable. As much as I dislike US-style capitalism (Ami ex-pat) and the insecurity it brings to people's lives, I have to say that there are opportunities there that just don't exist here.
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