Minimum wage is turning low-paid mini-jobs into regular work: report

Germany only implemented a minimum wage two years ago, and analysts are still assessing its economic impact. But so far one aspect has shown improvement - and it especially affects women.

Minimum wage is turning low-paid mini-jobs into regular work: report
Photo: DPA

The minimum wage has played a strong role in converting low-paid mini-jobs into regular work positions, which is especially good news for women, according to a new report released on Wednesday by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB).

The number of mini-jobs converted into regular jobs was around 110,000 in 2015 when the minimum wage was launched, and this was more than double the number of conversions as in 2014.

A mini-job is a position where the employee earns no more than €450 per month, allowing people to work fewer hours free of tax. Mini-job employees earn around €5 to €10 per hour, while the minimum wage is currently set to €8.84, and they often do not receive the same kinds of benefits as permanent jobs. Mini-jobs can range from retail to healthcare to domestic work.

The jobs have been touted as a good opportunity for stay-at-home parents – mainly mums – as well as retirees and students. Proponents also have said it gives businesses more flexibility in their workforce.

But critics have observed that though the mini-job system is promoted as a stepping stone to the next position, it often does not have this result.

The minimum wage, however, appears to be shaking this up. According to the IAB report, mid-sized companies in particular decided after the implementation of the minimum wage in 2015 to turn former mini-job positions into regular job positions.

Women, the elderly and east Germans have profited from the changes above all others types of workers, the IAB found. Some though are still working part-time.

Companies specializing in transport and storage, as well as in the maintenance and repair of vehicles were the most inclined to turn mini-jobs into regular positions.

However, there was also another knock-on effect. Some firms who started employing mini-job workers in regular positions at the same time got rid of other normal working jobs.

The experts suspect that companies either placed former mini-job workers in regular positions that became free, or replaced weaker employees with more capable former mini-job workers.

Companies with relatively larger amounts of mini-jobs more frequently converted these positions. In addition, these companies created fewer new mini-jobs. The number of conversions itself did not have any additional effect on reducing marginal employment at companies.

“A little less than half of the conversions meant additional jobs subject to social insurance,” said the study authors in a statement.

A study by the Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI) in January revealed that there could be millions of mini-job employees working too many hours, and illegally for too little pay.

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How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

Lots of foreigners in Germany hope to get a job or climb the career ladder. But are there still opportunities for English speakers who don't have fluent German? We spoke to a careers expert to find out.

How easy is it to get an English-speaking job in Germany?

The pandemic turned our lives upside down. As well as having to isolate and be apart from family members, many people found themselves in need of a new job or decided they want a change in career. 

If you’re in Germany or thinking of moving here, job searching is of course easier with German language skills. But many people haven’t had the chance to learn German – or their German isn’t fluent enough to work in a German-only environment.

So how easy is it to find a job in Germany as an English speaker?

We asked Düsseldorf-based career coach Chris Pyak, managing director of Immigrant Spirit GmbH, who said he’s seen an increase in job offers. 

“The surprising thing about this pandemic is that demand for skilled labour actually got even stronger,” Pyak told The Local.

“Instead of companies being careful, they’ve hired even more than they did before. And the one thing that happened during the pandemic that didn’t happen in the last 10 years I’ve observed the job market was that the number of English offers quadrupled.”

READ ALSO: How to boost your career chances in Germany

Pyak said usually about one percent of German companies hire new starts in English. “Now it’s about four percent,” said Pyak. 

“This happened in the second half of 2021. This is a really positive development that companies are more willing than they used to be. That said it’s still only four percent.”

Pyak said he’s seen a spike in demand for data scientists and analysts as well as project managers. 

So there are some jobs available, but can foreigners do anything else?

Pyak advises non-Germans to sell themselves in a different way than they may be used to. 

A woman works on her CV in Germany.

A woman works on her CV in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

“In your home country you have a network, you have a company you used to work for that people know,” said Pyak. “This might be partly the case in Germany if you worked for an international company. But for most employers you are a blank sheet of paper, they know nothing about you. So unfortunately if they don’t know you or your country, they will assume you are worse (at the job) than Germans. It’s completely unjustified but it’s just how people are. 

“Get the employer to see you as the individual person you are, the professional you are. This requires that you have a conversation with somebody inside the company, ideally the decision maker, meaning the hiring manager or someone in this team.”

Pyak said it’s important to go into details. 

“Don’t think of me as a foreigner, think of me as ‘Mark who has been working in IT for 15 years’,” said Pyak. “Don’t read the job advert (to the manager), ask them what his or her biggest worry is and why is that important? And then dig deeper and offer solutions based on your work experience. Share actual examples where you proved that you can solve this problem.”

READ ALSO: 7 factors that can affect how much you’re getting paid

Pyak says foreigners in Germany can convince managers that they are right for the job – even if their German isn’t great. 

“What I advise clients at the beginning of the interview is to ask very politely if you can ask them (managers) a question. And this question should be: how will you know that I’m successful in this job, what is the most important problem I need to solve for you in order to make myself valuable? And then ask why this problem is so important. And the answer to that achieves a million things for you – first of all you’ve established a measurement by which you should be measured. 

“Then when you get into detailed discussion you can always tie your answer back to the question you can solve, which usually makes up 70 or 80 percent of the job. If you can solve this problem then what does it matter if you do the job in German or English?”

So in answer to our original question – it seems that getting an English-speaking job in Germany can’t be described as easy but it is very possible especially if you have the skills in your chosen field. Plus there are ways to increase your chances. Good luck!