Germany must remove hurdles for foreign skilled workers, says minister

Germany has to make it easier to attract skilled workers from abroad to address the country's worker shortage, says the Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck.

People walk in Frankfurt am Main.
People walk in Frankfurt am Main. Germany has a shortage of skilled workers. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

Habeck, of the Green party, slammed the difficult German bureaucracy and requirements that skilled workers from abroad face. 

“The problem is that the hurdles are so high,” Habeck told Germany’s Funke-Mediengruppe newspapers at the weekend.  “Degrees are not recognised, applications have to be processed by embassies.”

He added that it was not enough to “simply invite” skilled workers to Germany. “Otherwise, they will stand in the rain in front of Frankfurt airport and get nowhere,” he said. “We have to build a lot of infrastructure to organise this.”

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

Habeck said IT professionals don’t have major problems getting to Germany, but it wasn’t an easy process for other skilled workers. 

“It is a matter of easing the immigration requirements for others as well – especially those with professional qualifications,” Vice Chancellor Habeck said.

“In Germany, we must also take care of this, and make the necessary resources available for this. And we have to change the legal requirements so that immigrants can get easier access to the German labour market.”

Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck speaks at a government press conference on February 1st

Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck speaks at a government press conference on February 1st. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

Germany is desperate to fill several vacancies, including for nursers, IT specialists, scientists, doctors and engineers. There is also a shortage of cooks, metallurgy workers and builders. 

“In autumn 2021, there was a shortage of 390,000 skilled workers,” said Habeck. “Without political measures, there will be a shortage of about half a million workers by the end of the legislative period.”

The previous government, made up of a coalition between the conservatives (CDU/CSU and SPD), launched a new law aimed at making it easier for skilled workers to come to Germany, but many have said it is not enough. 


Germany’s Central Foreign and Specialist Placement Office helped 3,200 skilled workers from abroad gain a foothold in the German labour market last year – 700 more than in 2020. However, politicians say that is still too low. 

The new traffic light coalition – made up of the SPD, Greens and FDP – have said they want a huge overhaul of immigration policies in Germany. 

READ ALSO: What Germany’s coalition proposals mean for citizenship and immigration

Habeck wants to actively court skilled workers in a new initiative. He has recorded a video “aimed at skilled workers all over the world” which will be launched on the German site aimed at foreign workers called – Make it in Germany.

“We are launching an appeal to come to Germany,” said Habeck.

“Above all, we need an overall show of strength: through a better reconciliation of family and work, through further education and training and, of course, through immigration.”

READ ALSO: How Italians are filling the gap in the German job market


Skilled workers – (die) Fachkräfte

Remove hurdles – Hürden abbauen

Immigration requirements – (die) Zuwanderungsvoraussetzungen

Gain a foothold – festen fuß fassen

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

  1. Might work once the Germans realise that they need to embrace change and stop being so conservative, bureaucratic and bloody slow!

    1. We shall see if my comments just disappear like they have done since the update.

      They have to go back to the bring your family rule thing they had with turkey. But even that doesn’t really work. Further east is the lower wages but more bang for your buck.
      To the west is less bang for your buck.

      In trucking they want drivers from beyond Poland to fill up trucks in hamburg offering 4 weeks away in the truck for 2500 a month. <-without going home even at weekends. I can earn triple that to the west. On local work. Or. I can be home more for about the same to the east. Germany is not very lucrative anymore.

  2. The red tape and archaic regulations provide many government officials job security who manage immigration policies. They will resist any changes that could threaten their job security.

    1. Maybe stop paying Germans to sit at home. Maybe stop doctors from writing sick slips for people who are not sick. I see it all the time. When the wall came down and people from the east came over a programmer was shown the work a company does. He said he could do the work in a week. The company told him that’s what they do in a day. How are you going to know if this worker is skilled or not before you let them in? Need to stop paying kinder/mutterschaftsgeld. Makes people have like 6 kids. Crime is on the rise in the bigger cities. Force the Germans to work.

  3. It’s not just a political problem – it’s a cultural problem. German firms will also need to get over their obstinate insistence on fluent German language skills for any and every position. For many workers in highly technical fields, learning a new language basically means relearning your job. Couple that with the constant low-level discrimination that foreigners (especially non-Western foreigners) face in Germany, and you have a recipe for a very unattractive environment.

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For members


What to do if you lose your residence permit in Germany

Third-country nationals with the right to live and work in Germany are generally issued a residence permit in their passport or in the form of an ID card. But what do you if you happen to lose this vital document - or if it gets stolen? Here's a step-by-step guide.

What to do if you lose your residence permit in Germany

Losing an important document can be a nightmare scenario for foreigners in Germany – especially if it’s the one you rely on to live and work in the country. So if you search for your residence permit one day and suddenly realise it’s missing, you may feel the urge to panic. 

Luckily, there’s a process to follow to get a replacement and ensure nobody else can misuse your residence permit in the meantime. This being Germany, it may take a little time, but rest assured you will be able to replace the document. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Different types of permit

If you’re a non-EU national in Germany, you’re likely to have one of two documents proving your rights and status in the country: 

  • a residence permit that’s placed on a page in your passport (Zusatzblatt zum Aufenthaltstitel), or
  • an electronic ID, or eID, card (electronischer Aufenthaltstitel) for permanent residents. 

Some third-country nationals who’ve been in Germany for less than five years on a visa will have their residence permit in their passport, while others will have been issued an eID card. Permanent residents will generally have an eID card. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to prove you’re a resident in Germany

Brits who lived in Germany before the Brexit cut-off date are likely to have a special type of electronic ID card known as an Aufenthaltstitel-GB. This looks pretty similar to a permanent residence card and basically signifies that the holder is entitled to the same rights as EU citizens living in Germany. 

You’ll need to do things slightly differently depending on which type of residence permit you have, so we’ll cover each in turn. 

In either case, if you suspect you’ve been a victim of theft, it’s a good idea to file a police report so they can be on the lookout for any potential fraud. 

What to do you if you lose your electronic ID card

1. Call the cancellation hotline 

If you’ve mislaid your eID card or it’s been stolen, the first thing to do is call up a national hotline on 01801 33 33 33 and put a block on the card.

To do this, you’ll need to have your Sperrkennwort (blocking passport) handy. The way you’ll have received this can differ from state to state, but usually it is sent out in a letter along with the PIN and PUK for your electronic ID card around the time that the eID was issued. 

This will block anyone from using your eID function. If you find your card again, you can unblock it by visiting the Ausländerbehörde. 

If you haven’t activated the eID function or happen to have mislaid your blocking password as well, then move straight to the second step below. 

READ ALSO: What is Germany’s electronic ID card and how do you use it?

2. Get in touch with the Ausländerbehörde (Foreigner’s Office)

Once you’ve put a block on your card, you’ll need to get in touch with the Ausländerbehörde to let them know what’s happened and arrange a replacement card.

You can do this via email or telephone but may also have to book an in-person appointment if they need to see certain documents for issuing the replacement. If you need to block the eID function and don’t have your Sperrkennwort, you’ll need to take your passport to the Ausländerbehörde to do this.

Bear in mind that you won’t get your new ID card straight away. Depending on the state, it can take a up to three months to be issued. You’ll also need to pay a fee for the replacement card, which can vary from state to state and is normally paid with cash or EC card at the Ausländerbehörde. 

Also, once an order for a new card has been sent off, you’ll no longer be able to reactivate your old card should you find it again. 

Ausländerbehörde Berlin

People go in and out of the Ausländerbehörde in Berlin. Photo: picture alliance / Kay Nietfeld/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

What to do if you lose your passport and visa 

1. Order a new passport 

It probably goes without saying, but if you lose your passport with your residence permit in it, the first thing you’ll need to do is get hold of a new passport. This should be done via the government of your home country. 

2. Book an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde

Once you’ve got your new passport, make an appointment at the Ausländerbehörde to get a replacement printed out. If you’re unsure what documentation to bring with you to the appointment, check on their website or send them an email beforehand.

Once again, you’ll need to pay a fee for the replacement, which is normally done on-site with cash or an EC card. 

What if I’m travelling out of the country soon? 

If you’re leaving Germany and don’t have time to get a replacement eID card or residence permit, contact the Ausländerbehörde straight away. They should be able to assist you with emergency proof of residence, which is normally done in the form of a Fiktionsbescheinigung (a certificate confirming your status and rights before the official proof has been issued).

Obviously, if you’ve lost your passport, your first port of call will be your home country’s embassy, who can normally issue emergency travel documents within a matter of days. 

For Brits covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, bringing other proof of residence in Germany such as your registration (Anmeldung) with you or a work contract should suffice to avoid getting a stamp in your passport when you re-enter. But even if you do, it won’t affect your rights.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are no hard borders in Schengen, so if you’re travelling around the EU, you’ll generally be fine without your visa. 

READ ALSO: Reader question: How can I re-enter Germany without my post-Brexit residence card?