Germany ‘needs 400,000 immigrants every year’ to fill jobs

The head of Germany's federal Employment Agency has issued an urgent appeal to the government to allow significantly more immigrants with sought-after skills into the country.

Germany 'needs 400,000 immigrants every year' to fill jobs
Germany is desperate for more workers. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

“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.

READ ALSO: Germany needs 500,000 new immigrants every year, says politician

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. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s foreign population growth slows to ten-year low

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.

READ ALSO: 10 things you need to know about Germany’s new law to attract skilled foreign workers

Member comments

  1. Making life easier for skill workers when they arrive, should also be a goal. I know so many people who came and left because couldn’t adapt to Germany. Of course, immigrants should make an effort, but also Germans could make life easier for us :).

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Foreigners resident in Germany ‘not covered by new EES passport rules’

The European Commission has confirmed that non-EU nationals living in Germany won't be covered by EES - the major overhaul of passport rules and systems that's due to come into force next year.

Foreigners resident in Germany 'not covered by new EES passport rules'

The EU’s new entry and exit system (EES) is due to come into effect in May 2023, followed by the new ETIAS system in November, and between them they will have a major effect on travel in and out of the EU and Schengen zone.

EES means automated passport scans at EU external borders, which will increase security and tighten up controls of the 90-day rule. 

But the system is aimed at tourists and those making short visits to Germany – not non-EU citizens who live in Germany with a visa or permanent residency card – and there had been questions around how those groups would use the new system.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What the EU’s new EES system means for travel to Germany

The European Commission has now confirmed that EES does not apply for non-EU citizens who are living in Germany, telling The Local: “Non-EU nationals holders of residence permits are not in the scope of the Entry/Exit System and ETIAS. More about exceptions can be found on the website.

“When crossing the borders, holders of EU residence permits should be able to present to the border authorities their valid travel documents and residence permits.”

What this means in practice is that foreigners living in Germany cannot use the new automated passport gates that will be introduced with EES in May 2023.

The reason for this is that the automated passport gates only give the option to show a passport – it is not possible to also show a residence permit or permanent residency card. 

The automated system also counts how long people have stayed in Germany or Schengen, and whether they have exceeded their 90-day limit for short-term or visa-free stays.

Since residents are naturally exempt from the 90-day rule, they need to avoid the 90-day ‘clock’ beginning when they enter the EU. The best way to do this is to ensure that someone sees sees your residence permit upon entry. 

According to German immigration authorities, a stamp given out in error should not have an impact on residency rights. However, if the entry checks are conducted electronically, your passport could erroneously record an overstay, which could cause headaches later on. 

READ ALSO: British residents of EU told not to worry about ‘souvenir’ passport stamps

A Commission spokesman said: “EES is an automated IT system for registering non-EU nationals travelling for a short stay, each time they cross the external borders of European countries using the system (exemptions apply, see FAQ section).

“This concerns travellers who require a short-stay visa and those who do not need a visa. Refusals of entry are also recorded in the system. Non-EU citizens residing in the EU are not in the scope of the EES and will not be subject to pre-enrollment of data in the EES via self-service systems. The use of automation remains under the responsibility of the Member States and its availability in border crossing points is not mandatory.”

According to the French Interior Ministry, residents from non-EU countries should go to a manned gate and present their passport and residency papers together, instead of using the electronic gates. 

The Local has contacted the German Interior Ministry to confirm whether similar guidance applies in Germany.