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Global Economy

Half a million skilled workers are missing

Between July 2021 and July 2022, there was a shortage of more than half a million skilled workers in Germany across all occupations. This is the result of a study by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW). A total of 537,923 qualified workers were missing.

However, the largest gap in the 12-month average was in social work. There were no suitably qualified unemployed for 20,578 vacancies – according to the IW, a record value. "These specialists are lacking, for example, in career entry support, in school social work, in youth, children's and old people's homes or in addiction counseling, i.e. wherever people need personal support to solve social problems," write the economists and study authors Helen Hickmann and Filiz Koneberg.

gaps in many areas

There was a similarly large gap among the educators, in which 20,500 positions could not be filled. "Here, too, the shortage of skilled workers reached a record level," says the study. According to this, 18,279 positions remained vacant in geriatric care, 16,974 positions in building electrics and 16,839 positions in health and nursing care.

But even plumbing, heating and air conditioning companies are increasingly unable to find staff: according to the study, an average of 14,013 vacancies have remained unfilled in the past twelve months.

Computer scientists (13,638 vacancies), physiotherapists (12,060), automotive technicians (11,771) and professional drivers (10,562) were also very much in demand. The IW expects the situation to worsen among professional drivers, since "the employees are older than average and there is also a lack of young people".

New immigration law called for

Against the background of the shortage of skilled workers, Gesamtmetall President Stefan Wolf spoke out in favor of a new immigration law. "We need a qualified immigration law, such as Canada has," said the head of the employers' association of the metal and electrical industry to the newspapers of the Funke media group. "The immigrants have to be granted a long-term right to stay."

In Canada, many problems have been solved with its immigration law. In Germany, on the other hand, there are many pitfalls and hurdles in the Skilled Immigration Act. "Anyone who comes to us needs security and lifelong security," said Wolf. "The prerequisite for this must be the qualification and the language."

Complaint about declining level of education

According to the head of the employers' association, there are problems finding qualified people in the metal and electrical industry. Wolf criticized the fact that the level of education in the applications had fallen in recent years. He rejected short-term measures such as recruiting guest workers at airports.

In Germany, the Skilled Immigration Act (FEG) came into force on March 1, 2020. The aim is to facilitate the immigration of qualified specialists from third countries. According to a recent DIHK economic survey, 56 percent of companies see a business risk in the shortage of skilled workers.

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