Mothers and over-55s called back to work

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11 May, 2011 Updated Wed 11 May 2011 08:03 CEST
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The German government intends to bring millions of non-working mothers and older people back into the job market in a bid to close a looming skilled worker shortage in the coming decades.


In a paper drawn up by eight ministries and the Chancellery, the stark fact is acknowledged that around 6.5 million fewer people will be available to work by 2025 – due to an ageing population and low birth rates.

Professions in which there is already a shortage such as engineering and geriatric nursing will be in dire need of new people, the 27-page paper says, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung daily on Wednesday.

Yet rather than looking across the German borders for fresh blood, the government is fixing its attention on women who gave up paid work to bring up their children, and older people.

They represent, “significant potential which could also be quickly mobilized,” the paper suggests.

An estimated 1.2 million professionals could be tempted back to the workplace if the options to combine child care and work were improved, it says.

There are nearly half a million mothers whose youngest child is between six and 16 years old, who could be quickly available to work if conditions were more attractive. A study suggests they would like to work and would bring good education and training to the workplace.

Older people and those without work are also being considered. The raising of statutory retirement age from 65 to 67 will increase the numbers of workers by a million by 2025, while the intention is also to encourage more people older than 55 to work. Currently only 56 percent of people over 55 work – should that increase to 70 percent as is the case in Sweden, it would add a further million people to the workforce.

Another aim is to decrease the number of students who leave school and college before finishing their studies. The current drop-out rate of seven percent must be halved, the paper says, which would result in 300,000 more professionals.

Businesses will let the government know what professionals are needed, not just nationally but also regionally, by sending employment data to a ‘job monitor’ twice a year.

The potential of encouraging professionals from other countries to come to Germany to work is particularly vague in the paper, said the Süddeutsche Zeitung, although it has long been seen as a good method of filling gaps in the workforce – and despite the fact that even if the mobilization of women, older people and the jobless works as planned it will not be enough to supply the economy with what is needed.

Immigration rules have been a source of disagreement between the governing parties for months, with the pro-business Free Democratic Party wanting to reduce the minimum income requirement for highly-qualified people, and introduce a points system to attract further immigrants. The conservative Christian Social Union and large sections of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union reject these ideas, wanting instead to at least wait to see what happens now the job market has been opened to large parts of Eastern Europe.

The Local/hc



2011/05/11 08:03

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