Düsseldorf The German state is exacerbating the shortage of skilled workers in the economy rather than solving it – because it is reluctant to issue visas to urgently needed foreign workers. This is what several business representatives said at the Handelsblatt Innovation Summit on Tuesday.
Ursula Staudinger, rector of the Technical University of Dresden, called for a better immigration culture in the city government. More ‘understanding and adjustment’ is needed instead of ‘discrimination and restraint’.
And Magdalena Oehl from the start-up association reported an Indian IT employee for whom eight months elapsed between the employment contract and issuing a visa. This is not an isolated incident. Internationally, “it is not at all competitive with countries like Estonia and Lithuania doing it within ten to 30 days,” criticized Oehl.
The assessments are explosive as the shortage of skilled workers in the German economy becomes more pressing. 90 percent startups have vacancies. Every third IT position is vacant. And only skilled workers are in demand for a long time. The job crisis is affecting all sectors and forms of training.
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In addition to Staudinger and Oehl, on Tuesday these problems were discussed by Michael Kellner, parliamentary secretary of state in the Ministry of Economy and Sebastian Matthes, editor-in-chief of Handelsblatt.
The growing shortage of skilled workers in Germany has been predicted by demographics for decades, said TU rector Dresden Staudinger. Political responses have been coming for a long time, the traffic light coalition immigration law is a positive sign to say the least, but not enough. “We have a huge need for additional immigration,” agreed Michael Kellner of the Ministry of the Economy.
Potential to improve the recognition of foreign qualifications
Undersecretary of State Kellner admitted that procedures in visa departments must be accelerated and run more than twice as fast. There is also scope for improving the recognition of foreign professional qualifications. The attitude of some immigration authorities is also not topical: often people do not think about how authorities can help the economy and people, but rather “how to be as deterrent as possible,” complained Kellner.
In addition, women’s participation in working life is “still underdeveloped,” said Ursula Staudinger. The situation in many companies still requires improvement, especially in the case of part-time work. Work models are needed that facilitate the work of about five hours a week.
Talentrocket founder Oehl said women are “a huge potential that we are yet to realize.” Starting a business often coincides with family planning. The general conditions for parental benefit and maternity leave for self-employed workers should be improved. Then more women would like to start their own business.
Due to the aging population, it is also important to enable lifelong learning, said the rector of TU Staudinger. “It must be normal for the trainee to be 50” – and therefore possibly much younger than the trainee. In this way, the shortage of skilled workers in the apprenticeship sector can be combated.
Discussants agreed that innovation and digitization will increase the shortage of skilled workers in the medium term. After all, working with robots and artificial intelligence still requires more employees who can handle this technology. Therefore, modernization has not resulted in job losses everywhere. Here, Kellner would like to talk about digitization in a way that is more opportunity oriented than scary.
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