The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that Germany was lagging behind lots of other industrial countries when it came to attracting enough highly educated workers.
"While the German immigration system is generous for graduate applicants, immigration is much more difficult in occupations for which no university-level degree is required. However, that is precisely where the lack of workers in Germany is relatively acute," the OECD wrote in the report.
Each year, around 25,000 people come to Germany from the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) for jobs. They make up only 0.02 percent of the German population, whereas in Australia, Denmark, Canada and England this figure is between five and ten times higher.
Finding a way to boost the number of professional immigrants was, the OECD said, key to Germany securing its global competitiveness – especially as its population ages in the coming decades.
It needed first though to re-define its entry laws and make them clearer, as despite them being less strict than other countries they were viewed “domestically and abroad as restrictive and hard to navigate,” the report said.
German employers still seldom recruit workers from outside Germany, the OECD complained.
"Even companies that expect to face a labour shortage in the future rarely consider the possibility. This could become a problem," warned OECD deputy secretary-general Yves Leterme.
"Germany's prosperity depends to a considerable extent on whether it manages to remain competitive despite its ageing population," he said.
"It will become difficult to cope with the projected labour shortage without an appropriate immigration strategy."