“I'm currently compiling a positive list of professions that will be considered for a limited suspension of the so-called priority check,” she told financial Handelsblatt, referring to immigration rule which gives preference to German workers.
According to current rules, employers are only allowed to hire foreign workers when they can prove that there are no Germans capable of doing the same job.
But this hurdle could be removed for electrical, mechanical and auto engineers, in addition to doctors, von der Leyen said.
The “positive list” would be transparent, she said.
“The companies and their foreign applicants would know exactly where they stood,” she told the paper.
The conservative minister said she planned to present the concept to the government coalition within the month, with the aim of changing the rule by the first quarter of 2011.
The German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) welcomed von der Leyen's announcement.
“The minister is on the right track,” DIHK president Hans Heinrich told the paper.
“Until now companies have feared seeking qualified workers abroad because they shied away from the big bureaucratic hurdles.”