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Moving to Germany will be easier if you can fill one of these skills gaps

Germany is simplifying its immigration system to attract skilled foreign workers.
Germany is simplifying its immigration system to attract skilled foreign workers. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Angela Symons
Published on Updated
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Germany's skilled worker shortage has reached an all-time high: Here are the roles that need filling.

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Germany's worker shortage has reached an all-time high, according to a new study.

Unfilled job vacancies are up by more than 30 per cent year on year, while unemployment levels are falling, the study from the IW's Competence Centre for Securing Skilled Workers (KOFA) reveals.

In 2022, there were 1.3 million jobs on offer in Germany for skilled or qualified professionals. Around 630,000 of these - almost 50 per cent - lacked workers to fill them.

Roles like these would usually be filled by workers from other EU member states. However, like Germany, many of these countries are facing ageing and shrinking populations.

Germany is therefore looking to third countries to plug its gap in skilled labour - something that will be of "strategic importance" according to the German Institute for International and Security Affairs think-tank.

How is Germany hoping to attract skilled workers?

As a result of a growing labour shortage, the country is “on the lookout for people who fancy coming to Germany to bring in their skills, expertise and passions,” says economics and climate minister, Robert Habeck.

To woo these skilled foreign workers, Germany is simplifying its immigration system.

Plans for a new points-based visa system could make it easier for skilled workers to relocate to the country.

At a skilled labour summit last year, the German government also emphasised that academic and vocational training are of equal importance.

But which professions are they hoping to attract?

Which professions lack skilled workers in Germany?

Germany's shortage of skilled workers is most pronounced in health, social care, nursing and education, according to the KOFA study. In these fields, an average of 60 per cent of roles lack suitably qualified applicants.

Building trades including construction, architecture, surveying and building technology are also severely affected by a lack of skilled workers, KOFA reports, as well as manufacturing, production and raw material extraction.

There are also skilled labour gaps in law, accounting and management; science and IT; engineering; transport and logistics; and tourism and hospitality.

Skilled craftspeople, electrical engineers and catering professionals were also highlighted as desired workers on the government’s ‘Make it in Germany’ YouTube channel last year, on which Habeck emphasised, “We welcome people from all over the world”.

Another in-demand occupation listed on the government website includes physicians. A shortage of metallurgy workers has previously been reported.

Germany wants to remove bureaucratic hurdles for skilled migrant workers

In November 2021, Germany announced plans to allow dual nationality for non-EU citizens for the first time. Previously, this was only permitted under very specific circumstances.

It also pledged to simplify the application process and hinted at reducing the amount of time someone has to live in Germany before applying for citizenship.

The move is part of Germany's plan to modernise immigration laws and remove bureaucratic hurdles to ensure easier access to the German labour market.

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The removal of red tape isn’t Germany’s only attraction. Habeck highlights the country’s good working conditions, high pay, training opportunities, high quality of life, affordable education and democratic leadership as reasons to consider moving there.

Citizenship applications could also be fast-tracked as part of the strategy to retain migrant workers.

Although it has not yet been confirmed, some reports suggest skilled migrants may soon be eligible for German citizenship in just three years if they complete an integration course or demonstrate B1-level (lower intermediate) language skills. This is compared to the current five years, or eight without the integration course.

By simplifying the recognition of professional qualifications and making visa and citizenship processes easier to navigate, the country hopes to attract and retain a robust foreign workforce.

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