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Jobs in Germany roundup: Berlin teacher shortage and what to know about holiday pay

From a teaching shortage to what employees should know about holiday pay entitlement, here's a round up of news and talking points on working life in Germany.

A teacher talks to a class at a school in Baden-Württemberg. Berlin - like much of Germany - is facing a teaching shortage.
A teacher talks to a class at a school in Baden-Württemberg. Berlin - like much of Germany - is facing a teaching shortage. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd Weißbrod

Schools in Berlin struggling with staff crisis

Berlin is facing a huge teacher shortage, an investigation by the Tagesspiegel found. 

Around 450 positions are currently unfilled at Berlin’s schools, said the newspaper which analysed information from the capital’s districts.  

Berlin’s Senate Department for Education did not confirm the figures, but admitted that there are numerous vacancies.

“The need has increased significantly,” said administration spokesman Martin Klesmann when asked about the lack of teachers.

There are around 33,000 teachers in the capital and about 325,000 pupils.

The shortage is connected to a a number of factors, including a growing number of pupils and staff leaving the profession. Klesmann said the Senate is actively trying to recruit more teachers.

As The Local has reported, German states have been struggling for years to deal with an increasing shortfall in teachers. Experts say that a cut back in funding for teacher training at universities combined with a growing birthrate and higher immigration have contributed to the problem.

Book off your Brückentage

It’s hard to believe it but 2022 is just a few months away. So perhaps now is a good time to start thinking about next year’s holidays. 

We’ve put together a guide on how you can best plan your vacation days and make the most of so-called Brückentage – bridge days.

READ MORE: How you can make the most of Germany’s 2022 public holidays 

Tourism giant TUI says it will pay off government debt amid job cuts

German tourism giant TUI said on Wednesday it would raise over a billion euros selling stock to existing shareholders to pay off debt, reported AFP.

The world’s largest tour operator’s focus was “on refinancing and repaying government loans” now that the travel industry was taking off again, TUI CEO Fritz Joussen said in a statement.

TUI experienced a record loss of €3.1 billion ($3.6 billion) in 2019-2020 after its business was laid low by travel restrictions during the pandemic.

To weather the storm, the group received three bailout packages from the German government, totalling €4.3 billion.

The group announced a structuring programme in 2020, including the loss of 8,000 jobs worldwide and the sale of 20 percent of its fleet of aircraft.

TUI has its headquarters in Hanover plus a corporate office in Berlin. 

Berlin Start-up Gorillas sacks striking bike delivery couriers

Grocery delivery company Gorillas fired dozens of its riders this week for taking part in a series of strikes that have brought operations to a standstill.

On Friday, bicycle couriers from the Berlin-based start-up went on strike. But as the work stoppages are not organised by a recognised trade union, they are considered “wildcat strikes”.

It comes amid months of escalating tensions between the Berlin-based start-up and employees. 

A spokesperson for the Gorillas told Tagesspiegel on Tuesday that after consideration the company will “terminate the employment relationship with those workers who actively participated in the unauthorised strikes and blockades, obstructed operations through their behaviour and thus endangered their colleagues”.

The workers’ collective “Gorillas Workers Collective” (GWC) organised the strikes. A spokeswoman said that workers at the three warehouses involved in the recent strikes had received dismissal notices.

The strikes have been held in a connection with a row over pay and conditions. 

Did you know?

Holiday pay entitlement

Every employee in Germany is entitled to annual leave. This entitlement was first laid down in the Federal Leave Act (BUrlG) in 1963. The statutory minimum leave for a five-day week is 20 days, for a four-day week it’s 16 days.

However, this is only the lower limit – many companies nowadays offer around 30 days of annual leave. 

“In Germany, it is common to grant additional contractually agreed holiday days on top of that,” Daniel Brügger, a specialist lawyer for labour law, told German news magazine Spiegel. 

If you are ill when you’ve booked holiday and have a sick note from a doctor, then your holiday days can be taken at another time when you’re better. 

People in Baden-Württemberg get the highest wage

Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Hamburg are the German states that have the highest wages, according to the 2021 Gehaltsatlas (salary atlas).

The states with the lowest salaries are Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg.

And with its booming auto industry, Stuttgart is the state capital with the highest regional salary factor (125.1 percent above the national average earnings), followed by Munich (124.3 per cent), Düsseldorf (117.2 per cent) and Wiesbaden (114.9 per cent).

Useful links: 

Jobs in Germany: What an SPD-led government could mean for workers

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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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