"We need to change direction decisively when it comes to immigration," von der Leyen said in Sunday's Tagesspiegel newspaper. "At the moment we're too concerned with mass unemployment and mistakes in integration policy in the last 40 years. But the pendulum is swinging back. We desperately need more smart heads to secure our future prosperity – no matter where they come from."
The minister pointed out that the expected loss of five million wage earners in Germany in the next ten years cannot be compensated for only by qualifying more unemployed people or raising the retirement age.
Von der Leyen announced that together with the Federal Employment Agency, she would appoint a new 'job monitor', who will record the lack of skilled labour in individual industries and regions of the country.
This, she argues, will allow the hurdles for potential immigrants to be lowered in a more targeted way. For instance, in certain cases it will eliminate the employment agency's obligation to carry out a cumbersome search for appropriate German applicants before making a job available to someone from abroad.
Von der Leyen also argued that the minimum income of €66,000 for highly qualified potential immigrants needed to be reduced immediately.