Shortage of skilled workers
Currently, demographic change is not sparing any sectors in Germany. This change in the structure of society is particularly shown in the continuously increasing shortage of skilled workers. In certain regions and sectors, there are numerous vacancies that cannot be filled with suitable personnel. An improvement is not to be expected. According to experts, Germany has a net need for immigration of 400,000 employers annually.
The German government’s project
The government now wants to actively counteract this problem and simplify immigration law. To this end, key points have been introduced for modernising skilled labour immigration law. Based on these cornerstones, the Labour Ministry is developing a draft law that is to be introduced in Parliament in Q1 2023.
In the long term, the acquisition of the German language is essential for the required commencement of work. In addition, the documents required for the recognition procedures should also be accepted in English or the original language in the future. In addition, Germany wants to promote working in Germany actively to attract visa applicants.
The three-pillar system
The main changes are divided into three pillars:
1. first pillar: immigrants with recognised professional qualifications
Immigrants who can show a vocational qualification recognised in Germany are to be allowed to work in any qualified occupation in the future. This even applies to occupational fields that are not related to a specific field, as long as the employer is convinced of their qualifications.
Highly qualified immigrants with a university degree shall be able to apply for the EU Blue Card, for which the required salary threshold of EUR 56,400.00 gross is planned to be reduced to EUR 48,626.00.
In addition, the plans include the creation of a possibility of entry and residence for skilled workers who cannot or can only partially prove their professional qualification due to missing documents, provided they are not responsible for this. Then they can be finally examined in Germany.
2. second pillar: immigrants with a job offer and work experience, but no recognised vocational qualification (yet).
In the case of immigrants without a vocational qualification recognised in Germany, the focus should be on professional experience. If a professional qualification is available that is state-recognised in the respective home country, two years of professional experience are sufficient to pursue such an activity in Germany. The situation is different for professions for which a special licence must be obtained, such as lawyers or doctors. In order to prevent qualified professionals from carrying out auxiliary activities, the German government plans a salary threshold of EUR 39,420.00 (45% of the contribution assessment ceiling of the statutory pension insurance). This regulation can be deviated from if the foreign employee has agreed on a “recognition partnership” with the employer. Accordingly, work can be taken up from the first day, if the necessary qualifications or recognition procedures are running in parallel.
Special provisions are meant to apply to IT professionals, for whom both the salary threshold and the requirements for the necessary language skills are to be lowered.
3. the third pillar: the points system
Third-country nationals without a job offer and sufficient work qualifications, but with good potential, will most likely also be given the opportunity to work in Germany. The German Government plans a transparent, unbureaucratic points system as the basis for a “job search opportunity card”. Candidates for immigration can prove their potential on the basis of certain parameters (e.g. reference to Germany, age, language skills, professional experience or qualifications) and collect points.
Immigration for the purpose of training
In addition, the German government has also not disregarded the fact that “immigration for the purpose of seeking a training place” is an option. This is to be taken up by various adjustments, for example with regard to the required language level, the necessary school-leaving qualification and the age limits.
The solution to some problems, but not all
Of course, despite the multi-layered linkage to various circumstances, some potential remains untapped. For example, Germany can make more active use of the European freedom of movement to recruit workers. This would probably also require a simplification of bureaucracy and possibly the creation of certain tax incentives.
Furthermore, we find it crucial to simplify and shorten the recognition procedures for residence titles and visa procedures. Otherwise, immigrants would in principle have the opportunity to work in Germany, but the implementation would be delayed again. This would at least stand in the way of achieving the goal in the short term. A key solution could be to increase the digitalisation of the process.
Lastly, the problem of the shortage of skilled workers is not only a phenomenon of the economy, but also affects the consulates and foreigner authorities. In addition to digitalisation, it is, therefore, necessary to expand their capacities in order to shorten the duration of possible procedures.
In any case, the federal government has sent a clear signal with its key data and its – at least announced – drive for action.