Labor migrations: The economy needs migrants – the authorities tread hard – politics

The economy is sounding the alarm: in July, half of German companies (49.7%) complained about the lack of employees. As a result, many have to stop doing business and not be able to take orders. The Munich ifo Institute released the data last week and says a value that has never been measured before. The federal government has announced a recruitment offensive abroad. But will it work, unlike its predecessors?

how many people do we need
Germany is shrinking, not its population – on the contrary, it is growing – but the number of people of working age. Each year, the country loses about 350,000 of them. Currently, 1.8 million jobs are open, and many of them cannot be filled due to the lack of the national workforce. Without immigration, according to migration economist Herbert Brücker in a recent interview with Mediendienst Integration, the number of people eligible to practice would drop by a third in one generation, namely by 2060. However, in order for migration to cover the losses, Germany would have to make a great effort and bring many more people into the country. 400,000 would be needed annually just to maintain a steady workforce. I want to say: 400,000 who are staying here.

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According to Brücker, who teaches at Berlin’s Humboldt University and heads the migration department at the IAB research institute of the Federal Employment Agency in Nuremberg, this would mean that 1.6 million people would come to Germany every year. According to Brücker, these numbers are “dramatic”, both in terms of demand and its more than poor satisfaction. The Skilled Immigration Act also “definitely did not live up to the expectations” that politicians associated with it.

Is Germany not attractive enough?
Germany’s attractiveness for foreign workers is not as remote as it often appears in national debates on migration. Two years ago, when the Skilled Immigration Act entered into force, it was clear from studies that people with foreign academic degrees in particular have fewer career and promotion opportunities in Germany than elsewhere. In a study by the OECD and the Bertelsmann Foundation, it was ranked only twelfth among over 30 highly developed countries. Australia, Sweden and Switzerland were at the top. Qualified workers in Germany, even without an academic diploma, have always had a problem with the fact that their qualifications must correspond to those provided by the German, preferably dual education system. But proving it is difficult – the dual system of apprenticeship and graduate school is unique in the world. Ten years ago, this long-known obstacle was about to be removed; For the first time, the “Law on the Improvement of Assessment and Recognition of Professional Qualifications Acquired Abroad” gave anyone who wanted to work here and had qualifications the right to have these skills tested. It did not bring any real improvement, at least not a breakthrough. As the “equivalent” of a German diploma is still compulsory, practitioners in companies demand that – apart from occupations related to safety – the determination of whether a carpenter or a car mechanic can do their job should be left for specific daily work.

What other obstacles do potential immigrants face?

Two years ago, in a report to the then and current Labor Minister Hubertus Heil, the research team from the Nuremberg Federal Institute took a tough stance on German diplomatic missions abroad: many who wanted to come and had already refused to issue visas. employment contracts in Germany. The report was an assessment of the regulations of the Western Balkans, the most liberal and apparently the most effective tool of German economic migration policy. People from Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, North Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia can come and work in Germany from 2016 – without any proof other than that they have a German employment contract. Experts from BA’s own “Labor Market Institute and Vocational Research Institute” assessed the statistics and interviewed employers and authorities. Result: there was almost no abuse, for example false employment contracts or wage dumping, supply and demand coincided almost perfectly, and companies were very pleased with the motivated and skilled newcomers from the Balkans. Problem: not enough came. A major bottleneck turned out to be as good as a blocked one: the German authorities to allow people willing to work to access Germany. And it was not caused by the lack of staff, as we read in the report for Minister Heil: “The term abuse was used extremely widely in the context of the regulation of the Western Balkans by representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (and often also immigration authorities). ) ”, It says there. The study cites, inter alia, employee of the German embassy in the Western Balkans with the assessment: “We had a lot of visa applications and thus many moments of abuse.” When the Federal Institute felt an attack from the Balkans, it increased its staff and was able to quickly process many applications that have now resulted in visa applications at consulates. This large number alone clearly increased the suspicion of fraud.
Moreover, according to the report, some employees of consular offices and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs probably did not comply with the law favoring migration, but were guided by their personal skepticism towards migration: “Additionally, the statements of the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicate that – the authors write – immigration of people without vocational training resulted in restrictive decisions in issuing visas. It has been repeated many times that immigration of skilled workers to Germany would be desirable, but immigration of workers without professional qualifications could cause social problems. ” However, the Western Balkans regulation clearly does not require any professional qualifications.

What should change now?

Long waiting, a lot of bureaucracy – the regulations in force so far have not been able to change much of the basic dilemma of the German economic migration policy. This scares off scientists, as does everyone else that Germany really needs urgently: artisans, care workers, but also people for auxiliary work, who are just as desperately lacking. The traffic lights at least saw the problem and agreed in the coalition agreement that “it would” reduce obstacles to the recognition of educational and vocational qualifications from abroad, reduce bureaucracy and speed up procedures “. Germany needs more labor immigration. Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil and his colleague from the Home Affairs department, Nancy Faeser, recently wrote in a guest article for the Handelsblatt newspaper, which is specifically planned in a migration package announced by three coalition partners: Skilled workers with work experience and diploma from their home country and want to work in Germany. The prospect should be able to come and start work immediately. They gain recognition at the same time they work, the costs are paid by the companies that hired them. That would suddenly shorten the critical period between recruiting and coming to zero. We are now also looking for people who have qualifications, but would like to work in a completely different profession – if they have an employment contract in Germany in their pocket. And the earnings threshold for academically trained staff will be lowered again. They currently have to earn at least € 56,400 gross a year.

Are the traffic light plans correct?

According to all that research on effective instruments of labor migration knows, Faeser and Heil’s legislative plans are moving in the right direction. As is often the case with legislation, implementation is difficult. Years ago, the German Advisory Council for Integration and Migration, the Council of Immigration Experts in the German Government, confirmed the high degree of liberalization of German migration legislation and the numerous job opportunities for foreigners from outside the EU. The fact that they do not do it often enough is a problem for the responsible German authorities, especially for diplomatic missions abroad, which very often refuse to issue a visa, even if they are legally required to do so. The traffic lights heralded further training and an increase in the number of employees, both jobs and improvements a way of thinking in the consular sections – will determine the success of their plans. At least in part one, there is still a problem: according to information from the Federal Foreign Office, in response to a small request from the Tagesspiegel left-wing faction, only three of the six visa offices in the Western Balkans have had more jobs since early 2021. Even the visa office for the EU’s southern neighbor, Tunisia, where AA had only a good six months to wait for its first meeting last year, has gone empty-handed in terms of staff growth.

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