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Berlin startup offers a year with no money worries

Miko from Berlin may only be five, but he already has €1,000 ($1,063) per month to live on - not from hard graft, but as part of an experiment into universal basic income.

Berlin startup offers a year with no money worries
Michael Bohmeyer, the founder of Mein Grundeinkommen (My Basic Income). Photo: DPA
He is one of 85 people, including around 10 children, chosen by startup Mein Grundeinkommen (My Basic Income) to receive the payments for a year since 2014.
   
Founder Michael Bohmeyer has set out to prove to a sceptical public in Germany and further afield that the universal basic income (UBI) idea is workable.
   
“Thanks to my first startup, I got a regular income, my life became more creative and healthy. So I wanted to launch a social experiment,” 31-year-old Bohmeyer told AFP.
   
And he wasn't alone in wanting to test the idea, as some 55,000 donors have stumped up the cash for the payments in a “crowdfunding” model – with the final recipients picked out in a “wheel of fortune” event livestreamed online.
   
Mother Birgit Kaulfuss said little Miko “can't really understand, but for the whole family it was exhilarating” when he was chosen — offering a chance to live “in a more relaxed way” and take a first-ever family holiday.
 
Trying things out 
   
“Everyone sleeps more soundly and no one become a layabout,” Bohmeyer said of his beneficiaries.
   
Recipients' experiences range from a welcome spell without financial worries to major turning points in their lives.
   
“Without day-to-day pressures, you can be more creative and try things out,” Valerie Rupp told public broadcaster ARD in a recent interview.
   
She was able both to take care of her baby and start a career as a decorator — even as her husband, newly arrived from Mali, was taking German lessons.
   
Winners have left jobs that were doing little more for them than put bread on the table to become teachers, taken time out to address chronic illness, broken alcohol addiction, taken care of loved ones, or paid for children's studies.
   
“It's at once a gift and a prompt” to make a change, explained Astrid Lobeyer, who used the money to give eulogies at funerals and studied the therapeutic Alexander technique, a method for relieving stress in the muscles.
   
Bohmeyer's experiment has fascinated social media and boosted discussion about a universal income in Germany.
   
At the same time, Finland is testing the idea with 2,000 homeless recipients and the idea is a flagship policy for French Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon.
 
Reward for laziness? 
 
In 2009, the German parliament flatly rejected a petition from some 50,000 Germans demanding a universal income.
   
Nevertheless, some 40 percent of the public still think it's a good idea, according to a survey last June by pollsters Emnid.
   
Supporters have formed a campaign group called “Buendnis Grundeinkommen” (Basic income federation) with their sights on September's legislative elections, but so far no major party has taken up the cause.
   
There are pockets of support among left-wingers, the right, Catholic organisations and even industry leaders, whose reasoning ranges from fighting poverty to simplifying bureaucracy or smoothing the transition into the digital era.
  
Resistance to the idea is more focused, centering on how UBI would change people's relationship to work.
   
Right-wingers dismiss it as a “reward for laziness”, while the Social Democratic Party (SPD) worried in 2006 about unemployed recipients being “labelled useless” rather than getting help to find jobs.
   
Meanwhile, major unions like IG Metall and Verdi denounce the idea as a “liberal Trojan horse” that would “boost inequality” by paying millionaires and poor people alike.
 
Thankless jobs
 
Mein Grundeinkommen is “poorly thought out” as a response to broader social questions, University of Freiburg economist Alexander Spermann told AFP.
   
The startup's 20 employees eat up “60 percent of the budget”, founder Michael Bohmeyer admits — while the idea of basing the funding on curiosity or activism by thousands of donors is hardly applicable on a large scale.
   
For Spermann, the Berliners' experiment has only succeeded in answering the question “what would I do with a blank cheque if I got one for Christmas?”
   
People's choices in terms of qualifications or work if they were guaranteed the payments for life are the real mystery, the economist argues.
   
“Who will take on the exhausting and sometimes less attractive tasks, like emptying bins or taking care of the elderly?” asked Werner Eichhorst of the Bonn Centre for the Future of Work (IZA) in 2013.
   
UBI supporters argue such jobs would either be taken over by robots or find a new place of honour in society if the policy were enacted.
   
“No machine will take over working for us and pay our taxes at the same time,” Eichhorst and opponents shoot back.
For members

WORKING IN GERMANY

EXPLAINED: The 25 most in-demand jobs in Germany

For those considering relocating to Germany - or looking for a new profession - here are the most in-demand jobs out there, according to a study by LinkedIn.

EXPLAINED: The 25 most in-demand jobs in Germany

Germany is desperate to fill jobs. In autumn last year, authorities said there was a shortage of 390,000 skilled workers. 

The new government plans to ease red tape and overhaul immigration policies to make it easer for non-EU nationals to come to the country. 

READ ALSO: What Germany’s coalition proposals mean for citizenship and immigration

But many people already within Germany might also be thinking about a change of career, or pivoting to a related sector, especially after the Covid pandemic changed the world of work. 

For those who are curious, international job search engine LinkedIn has published a list of jobs that are in-demand in Germany. Although lots of positions in Germany require that you speak German, many companies are international and encourage English speakers to apply.

What is the list?

The so-called LinkedIn Jobs in Trend 2022 list shows the 25 occupations that have grown the most over the past five years compared to other other positions. 

The list “allows insight into how the job market is evolving and the long-term opportunities it presents – whether you’re looking to change careers, re-enter the workforce or upskill for future challenges,” said LinkedIn. 

It’s based on LinkedIn data between January 2017 and July 2021. 

READ ALSO: How to boost your career chances in Germany

Here is the list of the top 25 positions, including the core skills required for each and the desired amount of experience for candidates according to LinkedIn.

In some of the descriptions below we haven’t translated the job name  to German – that’s because it is usually advertised in Germany with the English name.

1. Consultant for the public sector (Berater*in für den öffentlichen Sektor)

Responsibilities: Advising public and government institutions on the modernisation and digitalisation of administration and infrastructure

Most common skills: Public Policy, Management Consulting, Policy Field Analysis

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Hamburg and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 2.8 

2. Product analyst (Produktanalyst*in)

Responsibilities: Product analysts use metrics to evaluate a company’s products to determine whether they meet current and future market needs

Most common skills: Tableau, Google BigQuery, SQL

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Hamburg and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 3.7 

A man at his home office desk.

A man works at his ‘home office’ desk. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sina Schuldt

3. Business development specialist or consultant (Beschäftigte in der Geschäftsentwicklung)

Responsibilities: Business development employees develop companies, enter new markets and evaluate sales opportunities

Most common skills: salesforce, account management, inside sales

Top regions hiring in: Berlin Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 3.3

4. Sustainability manager (Nachhaltigkeitsmanager*in)

Responsibilities: Sustainability management employees are based in corporate social responsibility (CSR) departments and look after the social, environmental and economic aspects of a company

Most common skills: Sustainability reporting, corporate social responsibility, life cycle assessment management

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Berlin and Hamburg areas

Average years of experience: 3.8

5. Cyber Security Specialist (Cyber Security Spezialist*in)

Responsibilities: Unlike IT security, cyber security is not limited to the environment of your own company, but also keeps an eye on wider threats from the internet in order to ward off viruses, Trojans or ransomware

Most common skills: ISO 27001, Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), vulnerability assessment

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 7.1

6. Developer for machine learning (Entwickler*in für maschinelles Lernen)

Responsibilities: Machine learning developers create so-called artificial intelligence. They research and design models and algorithms that enable machines to recognise patterns in large volumes of data, among other things

Most common skills: TensorFlow, Python (programming language), Keras 

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 3.3 

READ ALSO: Working in Germany – 7 factors that can affect how much you’re paid

7. User Experience (UX) Researcher

Responsibilities: User experience researchers find out what users need and want and prepare these findings for developers, marketers, designers and others

Most common skills: Usability testing, design thinking, human-computer interaction

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 4.6

8. Real estate finance specialist (Spezialist*in für Immobilienfinanzierung)

Responsibilities: Real estate finance specialists accompany and advise clients from the initial property enquiries stage to closing the deal and agreeing on financial arrangements

Most common skills: Construction financing, finance, sales

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and Hamburg areas

Average years of experience: 5.3

9. Head of Public Affairs (Leiter*in Public Affairs)

Responsibilities: Public affairs is the strategic aim to integrate the interests of the employer into political decision-making processes. Also known as lobbying, the job description should not be confused with public relations (corporate communications)

Most common skills: Politics, international relations, strategic communication

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 7.2

10. Information security officer (Beauftragte*r für Informationssicherheit)

Responsibilities: Information Security Officers protect data in analogue and digital form. To do this, they ensure that sensitive data is only accessible to authorised persons at all times.

Most common skills: ISO 27001, Information Security Management System (ISMS), data protection management

Top regions hiring in: Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin areas

Average years of experience: 10.2

11. Specialist in talent acquisition (Spezialist*in für Talentakquise)

Responsibilities: Talent acquisition specialists identify suitable job candidates and take care of the strategic development of the Talent Acquisition department

Most common skills: Employer branding, sourcing, talent management

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 3.8

12. Expansion manager

Responsibilities: Expansion managers accompany the growth of companies and take care of things like the purchase or leasing of business space in optimal locations

Most common skills: Business development, marketing, strategic planning

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Düsseldorf and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 5.7

13. Test engineer (Prüfingenieur*in)

Responsibilities: Cars, wind turbines, lifts, amusement park rides and countless other technical constructions must be regularly checked for safety. This is where test engineers come into play

Most common skills: LabVIEW, Matlab, electrical engineering

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Hamburg and Tübingen areas

Average years of experience: 4 

14. Marketing (Marketingmitarbeiter*in)

Responsibilities: Marketing employees (Associates) support the planning and implementation of marketing activities for companies and organisations

Most common skills: Social media marketing, online marketing, content marketing

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Hamburg and Munich

Average years of experience: 2.7

15. Data engineer (Dateningenieur*in)

Responsibilities: Data engineers deal with the collection, processing and checking of data

Most common skills: Apache Spark, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Apache Hadoop |

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 4.8 

16. Personnel officer recruiting (Personalreferent*in Recruiting)

Responsibilities: Recruiters use job advertisements and various channels to search for suitable candidates for open positions in the company and personally recruit suitable candidates

Most common skills: Active sourcing, e-recruiting, employer branding

Top regions. hiring in: Munich, Berlin and Cologne-Bonn areas

Average years of experience: 3.3 

A woman sits at a desk.

Are you looking for a chance in career? Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Finn Winkler

17. Manager in strategic partnerships (Manager*in Strategische Partnerschaften)

Job Purpose: Strategic partnerships managers are responsible for building and maintaining relationships with business partners to further the development and distribution of their own products and services

Most common skills: Business development, account management, product management

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 6

18. Head of Software Development (Leiter*in Softwareentwicklung)

Responsibilities: Software Development Managers are responsible for all stages of software application development. They control and structure planning, organisation and execution

Most common skills: Agile methods, cloud computing, product management

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 12.2 

READ ALSO:

19. Data science specialist

Responsibilities: Data science experts or data scientists help companies to make data-based decisions. They build a structured database from raw data, analyse data and prepare it with business background knowledge

Most common skills: Python (programming language), R, SQL

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Hamburg areas

Average years of experience: 3

20. Robotics engineer (Robotik-Ingenieur*in)

Responsibilities: Robotics engineers develop and programme robots and other intelligent assistance systems, whether for medicine, gastronomy, or future cars.

Most common skills: Robotic Process Automation (RPA), UiPath, C++ 

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and the Hanover-Braunschweig-Göttingen-Wolfsburg areas 

Average years of experience: 3.8 

21. Investment associate (Investmentmitarbeiter*in)

Responsibilities: Which areas are worth investing in, which companies are suitable for takeover? This is checked by investment managers through market observations, financial modelling and due diligence procedures

Most common skills: Private equity, corporate finance, mergers & acquisitions (M&A)

Top regions hiring in: Frankfurt, Munich and Berlin areas

Average years of experience: 2.7 years

22. Chief Information Security Officer

Responsibilities: Many companies are not only urgently looking for information security officers (see position 10), senior positions in this professional field are also in high demand

Most common skills: Information Security Management System (ISMS), ISO 27001, IT Risk Management

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Frankfurt and Berlin areas

Average years of experience: 14.3

23. Manager in strategic sales (Manager*in im strategischen Vertrieb)

Responsibilities: Strategic Sales Managers usually look after selected target and existing customers over a longer period of time. Duties include preparing quotations and negotiating prices

Most common skills: Solution selling, business development, account management

Top regions hiring in: Munich, Stuttgart and Frankfurt areas

Average years of experience: 9.3

24. Communications manager (Kommunikationsmanager*in)

Responsibilities: Communications managers take care of PR work inside and outside a company – this includes planning communication strategies as well as implementing campaigns on social networks or organising press appointments and events

Most common skills: Strategic communication, public relations/PR, internal/external communication

Top regions hiring in: Berlin, Munich and Nuremberg areas

Average years of experience: 5.4 

25. Specialist writer for medicine (Fachautor*in Medizin)

Responsibilities: Medical writers produce documents in a medical context, such as study reports for scientific journals, texts for regulatory authorities and information sheets for medicines – but also journalistic texts for websites or magazines

Most common skills: Clinical studies, scientific writing, life sciences

Top regions hiring in: Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich areas

Average years of experience: 5.2

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