Demographic changes present German employers with considerable challenges regarding the employment of skilled workers. The Institut für
Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB) estimates that the workforce available to the German labour
market will reduce from its current 44.6 million by 6.5 million to 38.1 million by 2025 (Diagram 1). In particular, the acute shortage of engineers will continue to constrain business profitability and growth.
Although skills shortages have previously led to increased employment opportunities within Europe, politicians have been slow to open the German labor market to employees outside the European Union.
Since June 2011, the German government has removed a significant barrier to non-EU engineers and doctors acquiring a German work permit by suspending the ‘priority check' (Diagram 2). Previously, German labor authorities would have had to investigate whether it were possible for a EU citizen to fill a vacancy that a non-EU citizen had applied for, before a work permit could be granted, with priority given to the EU applicant. Furthermore, the German government agreed in November 2011 to lower the income threshold for skilled migrants from 66,000€ to 44,800€ per year, irrespective of their field of discipline.
However, relaxation of immigration laws alone will not ensure that Germany becomes an chosen destination for engineers. Germany needs to develop a reputation as an attractive choice for highly skilled migrants if it hopes to keep pace with international competition.
Furthermore, German language requirements present a significant barrier to the successful integration of
internationally recruited talent. In contrast, English is increasingly required in order for German graduates to meet the needs of global businesses. As a result of the shortfall between the language skills of both parties,
job vacancies frequently remain partially or completely unfilled.
The Institute for Employment and Employability (Institut für Beschäftigung und Employability (IBE)) has surveyed the prevalence of cultural and linguistic diversity within 300 European companies, both large and medium to small employers (SME).
IBE found that large companies recruit internationally more often than SMEs. 62% of companies in the large-scale category (with more than 1000 employees) have previously recruited internationally, in comparison with 43% of SMEs. Although an average of 50% of employers recruit internationally, 75% admit to having no clear international recruitment strategy.
LZ International provides a link between German employers who have decided to recruit globally, and candidates who wish to diversify their skills and experience through international work opportunities.