Christian Lindner, general secretary of the Free Democrats (FDP), Angela Merkel's junior coalition partners, has told Wednesday's edition of business daily Handelsblatt that Germany needed the skills that older workers possess.
“The situation in the job market doesn't demand some kind of quasi forced early retirement,” he said. “Older workers are needed for their skills.”
Workers over 55 who lose their jobs can received Arbeitslosengeld I – for which they get up to two thirds of their previous salary – for as long as two years. The period was extended from 18 months in 2008 by the former “grand coalition” government. After that, if they still have not found work, they switch to the much less-generous Arbeitslosengeld II.
Lindner said that the government's own Federal Employment Agency (BA) was critical of the long running-time for the more generous scheme. He even lashed out at his party's senior coalition partners, Merkel's Christian Democratic Union.
“If the Union had the courage, they would follow the advice of the experts, as we are,” he said.
With Germany's economy recovering quickly from the 2008 recession, the unemployment rate has been gradually falling. At the same time, the country is facing a skills shortage.