Foreign professionals the economy needs ‘not attracted’ to Germany

While German industry continues to try to fill jobs remaining empty as the economy grows, politicians are split on how and even whether to attract foreign professionals, while others say Germany is simply not attractive enough to them.

Foreign professionals the economy needs 'not attracted' to Germany
Photo: DPA

The pro-business Free Democratic Party wants to lower one barrier by reducing the minimum annual wage a foreigner must earn in Germany to get permission to stay from the current level of €66,000 to €40,000, a suggestion supported by many in the centre-right Christian Democratic Union.

Yet the CDU’s Bavarian counterpart the Christian Social Union, CSU, opposes any changes to the immigration laws.

“Those who want that [income limit change], are not after professionals, rather cheap labour,” said CSU economic expert Georg Nüßlein told the daily Berliner Zeitung.

There is also conflict within the coalition over whether the rule that employers must show that there is no candidate within Germany or the European Union who can do a job before they offer it to a foreigner, should be lifted altogether.

It has already been suspended for doctors and engineers. FDP parliamentary leader, and recent Economics Minister, Rainer Brüderle said this should be expanded.

“Today perhaps we are missing doctors and engineers, but tomorrow we will be needing professionals in further or other areas,” he told the Hamburger Abendblatt.

Michael Fuchs, deputy leader of the CDU parliamentary faction said the government should look for workers within the EU.

“Spain, with its extremely high youth unemployment has high recruiting potential for the German labour market,” he told the Hamburger Abendblatt.

Fears of a flood of foreign workers remain, not only among conservative politicians but also trade unions. Yet they are unfounded, say academics looking at labour movement who say professionals are not exactly kicking down the doors to come to Germany.

“Professionals in particular are not flooding into Germany. The idea of not being really welcome here has strongly impregnated their heads,” Thomas Straubhaar, migration researcher and director of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), told the Financial Times Deutschland.

The German authorities had made a number of strategic mistakes which could not be fixed quickly, agreed Klaus Zimmermann, director of the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

Even those responsible admit there is much ground to recover. “Not many will come, as Germany has for a long time signalled that we do not need anyone,” said Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen at a conference on the matter between the government, employers and unions this week, the FTD reported.

She said the government was expecting that the country would have 6.5 million fewer workers by 2025 than this year. Such a shortfall would cost the German economy around €25 billion a year, something the government is desperate to avoid.

And although some changes are being prepared to try to win women and older people back into the workplace, foreign professionals are considered crucial to filling the gap.

Herbert Brücker, migration researcher from the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) told weekly newspaper Die Zeit at least 200,000 immigrants were needed per year in order to compensate for demographic changes in the labour market. The government’s efforts were not enough, he said.

“At best they would increase immigration by several thousand people a year,” he said.

Those researching labour movement, say for professionals, Germany is not seen as the most attractive place to go.

“The self-portrait of Germany as a country of milk and honey is nonsense,” labour market researcher Oliver Koppel from the Institute of German Economy in Cologne told the FTD.

“The German immigration laws emit a clear-as-glass defensive position.”

A recent survey of 47 foreign trade chambers by the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), showed potential migrants were discouraged by the long time it took to get a residence permit, as well as the large number of officials involved. A simplified and faster visa process was necessary as well as a transparent set of rules for immigration and bringing families to Germany was needed, the DIHK said.

Another thing that would make Germany more attractive was simply better pay, as current rates do not compete on an international level, Zimmermann of the IZA told the FTD. The language barrier is also a considerable problem, added Straubhaar from the HWWI, putting Germany behind many English-speaking countries, leaving only few countries from where people might come.

“Eastern Europe could have been our chance,” he said, but suggested this had been wasted by the decision to block workers from new European Union countries from Germany for as long as possible. Well-educated Poles and other eastern Europeans have gone to the UK or Holland, he said. “If we have any chance at all, then in countries such as Bulgaria, Romania or Turkey,” he said.

Expectations are low too, with Willi Fuchs, director of the Association of German Engineers, (VDI), telling the FTD he did not reckon trained foreigners would come in enough numbers to fill the skills gap.

“There are shortages in other industrial countries too, and engineers are also needed in the developing countries like China and India, where many of us have been looking,” he said.

The Local/DAPD/hc

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


What to do if you lose your residence permit in Germany

Third-country nationals with the right to live and work in Germany are generally issued a residence permit in their passport or in the form of an ID card. But what do you if you happen to lose this vital document - or if it gets stolen? Here's a step-by-step guide.

What to do if you lose your residence permit in Germany

Losing an important document can be a nightmare scenario for foreigners in Germany – especially if it’s the one you rely on to live and work in the country. So if you search for your residence permit one day and suddenly realise it’s missing, you may feel the urge to panic. 

Luckily, there’s a process to follow to get a replacement and ensure nobody else can misuse your residence permit in the meantime. This being Germany, it may take a little time, but rest assured you will be able to replace the document. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Different types of permit

If you’re a non-EU national in Germany, you’re likely to have one of two documents proving your rights and status in the country: 

  • a residence permit that’s placed on a page in your passport (Zusatzblatt zum Aufenthaltstitel), or
  • an electronic ID, or eID, card (electronischer Aufenthaltstitel) for permanent residents. 

Some third-country nationals who’ve been in Germany for less than five years on a visa will have their residence permit in their passport, while others will have been issued an eID card. Permanent residents will generally have an eID card. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to prove you’re a resident in Germany

Brits who lived in Germany before the Brexit cut-off date are likely to have a special type of electronic ID card known as an Aufenthaltstitel-GB. This looks pretty similar to a permanent residence card and basically signifies that the holder is entitled to the same rights as EU citizens living in Germany. 

You’ll need to do things slightly differently depending on which type of residence permit you have, so we’ll cover each in turn. 

In either case, if you suspect you’ve been a victim of theft, it’s a good idea to file a police report so they can be on the lookout for any potential fraud. 

What to do you if you lose your electronic ID card

1. Call the cancellation hotline 

If you’ve mislaid your eID card or it’s been stolen, the first thing to do is call up a national hotline on 01801 33 33 33 and put a block on the card.

To do this, you’ll need to have your Sperrkennwort (blocking passport) handy. The way you’ll have received this can differ from state to state, but usually it is sent out in a letter along with the PIN and PUK for your electronic ID card around the time that the eID was issued. 

This will block anyone from using your eID function. If you find your card again, you can unblock it by visiting the Ausländerbehörde. 

If you haven’t activated the eID function or happen to have mislaid your blocking password as well, then move straight to the second step below. 

READ ALSO: What is Germany’s electronic ID card and how do you use it?

2. Get in touch with the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office)

Once you’ve put a block on your card, you’ll need to get in touch with the Ausländerbehörde to let them know what’s happened and arrange a replacement card.

You can do this via email or telephone but may also have to book an in-person appointment if they need to see certain documents for issuing the replacement. If you need to block the eID function and don’t have your Sperrkennwort, you’ll need to take your passport to the Ausländerbehörde to do this.

Bear in mind that you won’t get your new ID card straight away. Depending on the state, it can take a up to three months to be issued. You’ll also need to pay a fee for the replacement card, which can vary from state to state and is normally paid with cash or EC card at the Ausländerbehörde. 

Also, once an order for a new card has been sent off, you’ll no longer be able to reactivate your old card should you find it again. 

Ausländerbehörde Berlin

People go in and out of the Ausländerbehörde in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance / Kay Nietfeld/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

What to do if you lose your passport and visa 

1. Order a new passport 

It probably goes without saying, but if you lose your passport with your residence permit in it, the first thing you’ll need to do is get hold of a new passport. This should be done via the government of your home country. 

2. Book an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde

Once you’ve got your new passport, make an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde to get a replacement printed out. If you’re unsure what documentation to bring with you to the appointment, check on their website or send them an email beforehand.

Once again, you’ll need to pay a fee for the replacement, which is normally done on-site with cash or an EC card. 

What if I’m travelling out of the country soon? 

If you’re leaving Germany and don’t have time to get a replacement eID card or residence permit, contact the Ausländerbehörde straight away. They should be able to assist you with emergency proof of residence, which is normally done in the form of a Fiktionsbescheinigung (a certificate confirming your status and rights before the official proof has been issued).

Obviously, if you’ve lost your passport, your first port of call will be your home country’s embassy, who can normally issue emergency travel documents within a matter of days. 

For Brits covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, bringing other proof of residence in Germany such as your registration (Anmeldung) with you or a work contract should suffice to avoid getting a stamp in your passport when you re-enter. But even if you do, it won’t affect your rights.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are no hard borders in Schengen, so if you’re travelling around the EU, you’ll generally be fine without your visa. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: How can I re-enter Germany without my post-Brexit residence card?