“Germany is running out of skilled workers,” Detlef Scheele, chairman of the Federal Employment Agency told the Süddeutsche Zeitung in an interview published Monday.
Due to demographic developments, the number of potential employees of working age is already decreasing by almost 150,000 this year, he said.
“In the next few years, it will be much more dramatic,” Scheele stressed.
Demographic trends are more critical than the transformation of the economy, he said. “I don’t understand why nobody is talking about this,” Scheele added.
Germany can only solve the problem, he said, by training up unskilled workers, allowing women employees with part-time jobs to work more hours – and, above all, by bringing immigrants into the country.
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That’s what the Germany’s new government needs to tackle, said Scheele, with an eye on the federal election coming up on September 26th.
“We need 400,000 immigrants a year. In other words, significantly more than in previous years,” said Scheele. “From nursing to air-conditioning technicians to logistics workers and academics: there will be a shortage of skilled workers everywhere.”
Scheele made the comments as Germany continues its evacuation of German nationals and refugees from Afghanistan after the Taliban swept into power.
“If refugees are making their way from Afghanistan, Germany should do its part to take them in,” Scheele stressed. However, he added that his focus was not on asylum seekers, “but with targeted immigration for the gaps in the labour market”.
According to the Federal Statistical Office, net immigration to Germany in 2020 was 209,000. Last year was also the first time in almost a decade that the population in Germany did not grow – likely because of the Covid pandemic that severely restricted travel.
In 2019, the government put together a law designed to make it easier for workers with vocational skills to migrate to Germany.
The Skilled Immigration Act came into force in March 2020 – the month of the country’s first national Covid-19 lockdown.
The aim of the law is to ease restrictions and red tape for qualified professionals when migrating to Germany through simplified visa applications.