Faced with an ageing population and a shortage of skilled workers, experts in Germany are demanding better laws to make it easier for talented foreigners to work in the country.
A December 2012 article from 'Deutsche Welle'...
German businesses notably depend on well-educated and highly-qualified workers. Even today many sectors are suffering from a shortage of skilled labor, which will only increase as the population ages.
In order to act against that trend, a group of experts from the political sphere, industry and the unions have drawn up an action plan, which calls for comprehensive immigration reforms. They want to promote what they call “carefully controlled immigration.”
Under the chairmanship of the former Social Democrat (SPD) parliamentary leader Peter Struck and Christian Democrat (CDU) politician Armin Laschet, an independent, cross-party commission was set up in April by a group of prominent German institutions. Now, the experts in Berlin have published their conclusions.
The number of employees in Germany will fall by some 6.7 million by the year 2025, according to the report’s findings. That’s why the politicians must react – on the one hand with more learning opportunities and on the other hand by improving the qualifications of the unemployed. But alongside more opportunities for women and older people on the job market, the commission found there should be more incentives to attract highly-skilled workers from abroad.
Struck emphasized that it would not be possible to plug the gaps created by demographic changes by workers from Germany alone.
“With our recommendations we want to convince the political parties, the political groupings in the German parliament to take part in a common initiative. The government and the labor minister should also play its role,” he said.
In the face of the current labor shortage, Laschet, the former integration minister for the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is sure of one thing.
“We must compete for the brightest talents in the world. We must get away from the idea of a ban on recruitment and clearly define who we need and under what criteria people can come to Germany,” he said.
Turning away from recruitment bans
The commission argued the move away from recruitment bans should be “part of a culture of immigration and welcome.” Laschet stressed that the law should make clear that immigration is “explicitly desired and promoted.”
Specifically, the experts called for the scrapping of bureaucratic hurdles. Workers can already enter the country with an employment contract, but Laschet criticized the fact that some have to undergo weeks of tests. He said that had to change.
In addition, a “criteria-based” system should be introduced, allowing up to 30,000 skilled laborers per year to enter Germany. That could include having qualifications in a given shortfall sector and having German language skills. However, the experts said that so-called “immigration into the social welfare system” should be avoided.
BlueCard for skilled foreign workers
German Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Germany had to open up to the idea that it was necessary to allow skilled foreigners into the country. The cabinet is set to consult shortly on the form of the so-called BlueCard for skilled foreign workers.
In the future, the income level for a settlement permit will be reduced to 33,000 euros ($44,385) for skilled workers in sectors with a large number of unfilled jobs.
For other sectors, the level will be reduced from the current 66,000 euros to 44,000 euros.