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Jobs in Germany roundup: The lowdown on coding bootcamps and new quarantine rules

Every week we compile news and talking points on working life. Here we look at German bootcamps for budding coders, and quarantine pay rule changes.

Jobs in Germany roundup: The lowdown on coding bootcamps and new quarantine rules
Would you consider a coding bootcamp in Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-tmn | Christin Klose

What you should know about coding in Germany

Coding schools or boot camps have become a popular option for people looking to change or launch an IT career. In just a few months, people can turn themselves into software developers or data scientists through intense training – and often earn a very nice pay packet. 

As Germany has a shortage of skilled workers in the IT industry, this can be a good career move if you’re looking for a job.

According to the industry association Bitkom, more than 80,000 IT positions for skilled workers are unfilled in Germany. 

READ ALSO: How much do employees really earn across Germany’s states?

While boot camps for programmers have been the trend in the US for years, there are only about a dozen providers based in Germany so far, reports Spiegel.

The courses are often structured along American lines – and are intensive: during the day, you sit in the (virtual) classroom of the coding school, and in the evenings and on weekends you will probably have to complete further “coding challenges” alone or in a team.

As an incentive, some providers promise their participants a job guarantee after training. Others provide the contacts to get into companies and coach graduates in their job search.

Since many of the courses are aimed at career changers, previous IT knowledge is often not a prerequisite. In selection tests and interviews, the main focus is on assessing the motivation, stamina, general technical understanding and learning abilities of the applicants.

“Every participant has to go through several preliminary interviews with us,” says Steffen Zoller, founder and CEO of the Digital Career Institute (DCI).

Originally founded as an initiative to integrate refugees into digital professions, the courses are now open to anyone interested. And most people stick with the tough classes. Zoller attributes the low dropout rate primarily to the selection process: “We reject a relevant proportion of applicants,” he said. Learning programming is often compared to learning a foreign language: If you want to be good at it quickly, you have to be willing to learn a lot.

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Strauch

Daniel Breitinger from the industry association Bitkom says there’s another advantage: “The bootcamps are ideal if you first want to test whether you are at all comfortable working with data, for example.”

It’s not cheap, though, because the courses cost up to €10,000. It pays to compare, not only the duration and content of courses, but also the payment terms. With some providers, for example, the money is only due after a successful start in a job.

If you are starting out while receiving unemployment benefits, many of the qualifications can be financed through an education voucher from the Job Centre so check with your advisor. In some cases, an employer can cover the cost of the training, too.

According to Zoller, the big advantage of coding bootcamps over other educational courses is the fact that they are very specifically geared to the needs of the IT job market.

“We get a whole slew of graduates right away who can do exactly what we need,” he said.

Quarantine pay rule changes

People in Germany who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19 will no longer receive compensation for lost pay if they are ordered into quarantine from November, it emerged on Wednesday. 

The state has been paying workers sent into quarantine for at least five days after having contact with an infected person or returning from a “high risk” area abroad.

But that will end from November 1st, Health Minister Jens Spahn said after a meeting with the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states, in the latest government initiative to encourage more Germans to take the jab.

Some states have already started going down this route. 

Getting vaccinated is a “personal decision”, Spahn said, but that decision will now “also come with the responsibility to bear the financial consequences”.

READ MORE:

People who have been vaccinated do not have to quarantine in Germany. However, everyone is told to self-isolate if they have been confirmed as carrying the virus. 

Germans lack financial knowledge

A new study shows the gap in knowledge when it comes to everyday financial matters among the German population.

About half of the respondents to a survey did not know when overdraft interest accrues on their checking account, and didn’t know or understand the compound interest effect. When it came to other questions about investments, insurance or loans, only one in two people managed to answer half of the questions correctly.

Low-income earners, women and younger people have a greater knowledge gap than other population groups, according to the representative study by Finanztip.

They asked more than 3,000 people aged 16 to 69 questions on everyday financial decisions.

Those who answered all the questions correctly could score a maximum of 12.5 points. More than half, however, managed a maximum of six points. 

“We asked questions about financial knowledge, which are necessary in order to judge everyday financial products correctly,” said Hermann Josef Tenhagen, editor-in-chief of Finanztip. 

Income also has an influence on how familiar respondents are with financial topics. The Finanztip study showed that those who earn more also know more about it. Of households earning up to €1,500 a month, only around 30 percent managed at least 6.5 points.

For households that take in more than €3,800 per month, around 69 percent scored at least 6.5 points. Tenhagen said that comes down to different experience knowledge.

“Those who have once taken out a loan are more familiar with interest and repayment than those who have never borrowed money from the bank,” he said.

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WORKING IN GERMANY

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! 

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