Germany looks to foreign workers to ease ‘dramatic’ labour shortage

The German government wants to overhaul immigration policies to alleviate staff shortages across the country, including in the hospitality sector.

People sit at a cafe in Stuttgart in August 2021.
People sit at a cafe in Stuttgart in August 2021. The hospitality industry is suffering a labour shortage. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Schmidt

German ministers last week announced they would be cutting red tape to allow companies to employ more workers from abroad to ease the aviation and airport staffing crisis that’s causing chaos for travellers.

Now the government is planning to do the same thing for restaurants, bars and hotels – and it could also apply to other sectors. 

“The labour shortage has been greatly exacerbated by the pandemic,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told DPA. 

As well as the aviation industry, Faeser, who belongs to the Social Democrats (SPD), said there was a worrying shortage of labour and skilled workers in the catering and hotel sectors.

“Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil and I know that we have to make things easier for foreign workers there,” Faeser said. Together with Heil (SPD), the minister is proposing changes before the end of the year in order “to bring good workers to Germany”.

Due to the extreme employee shortage at German airports, the government promised to cut red tape to make it easier for operators to hire staff temporarily. The workers, who will fill roles in baggage handling as well as other areas, are to be recruited primarily from Turkey.

Passengers flying in Germany have been facing long waits in airports, as well as major flight delays and cancellations. 

READ ALSO: Flight chaos: How Germany wants to relax red tape to recruit foreign workers

‘Acceptance among the population’

In order to increase Germany’s attractiveness to skilled workers, “several tasks have to be completed”, Faeser explained, adding: “We need faster recognition of professional qualifications and less bureaucracy.”

Faeser said she was working on changing these aspects along with Heil and Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP).

The minister emphasised that foreign workers would receive fair wages. 

Faeser also stressed that while modernising immigration laws, Germany was “paying very close attention to balanced solutions and acceptance among the population”.

READ ALSO: What Germany’s plans for a points-based system means for foreigners

Meanwhile, the leader of the FDP parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Christian Dürr, described the situation on the labour market as “dramatic” and called for “urgently needed immigration at all levels” and improved integration.

“After the phase of ‘guest workers’ (to fill jobs in Germany) in the sixties and seventies, the labour market closed itself off,” he said. “This attitude has never really been broken down.”

Hundreds of thousands of people who have lived in Germany for years have even been kept out of the labour market, he said.

“The opposite must be the case,” he said. “Today the motto must be: everyone who can live from their own work must be allowed to work immediately.”

In this respect, the CDU/CSU-led government made a historic mistake, Dürr said, referring to Angela Merkel’s time in government.

When the baby boomers retire, there will be a further crisis in the labour market, he said.

“It’s about urgently needed immigration at all levels into the labour market,” added Dürr. 

As The Local has been reporting, Germany is also planning to relax citizenship laws as part of its overhaul of immigration policies, which will mean non-EU nationals will be allowed to hold more than one nationality. 

READ ALSO: ‘I finally feel at home’: How Germany’s planned changes to citizenship laws affect foreigners

Member comments

  1. In my opinion immigration can only work if it’s a part of an overall inclusive policy of expanding and simplifying the opportunities for dual citizenship

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