Avoiding shortages of skilled workers - securing qualified junior staff
The competitiveness of the German economy depends crucially on well-qualified skilled workers. It is therefore all the more worrying that shortages of skilled workers are now not a cyclical problem but increasingly a structural one.
There are already shortages of skilled workers in numerous sectors and regions, especially in the nursing professions or in the so-called MINT sector (mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology). It is true that the effects of the Corona pandemic are also being felt there. However, this does not apply to IT staff in particular: the gap remains large. Due to the increased demands of digitalisation, the current crisis is further exacerbating the need for IT specialists here. Despite the crisis, there are still almost 1 million vacancies (IAB, 2020).
Demographic trend exacerbates shortage of skilled workers
The population in Germany, and thus also the number of potential workers, will shrink and age increasingly in the coming years. Even the comparatively high immigration figures prior to the crisis will not fundamentally change this trend. By 2040 the number of people aged between 20 and 65 could fall by around 6 million to less than 44 million. The old-age dependency ratio, which describes the ratio of the number of people over 65 to the number of people aged 20 to 65, is expected to deteriorate dramatically - from one to three today to one to two in 2030. This means that there would then be only two people of working age for every person over 65 (Federal Statistical Office, 2019).
With an overall declining and ageing workforce, the structural shortages of skilled workers that are already evident today will become even more acute. By 2025, there could already be a shortage of almost 3 million skilled workers, most of them with vocational qualifications (Prognos, 2019). The demographic development also has serious consequences for the social security systems. This applies in particular to statutory pension insurance and long-term care insurance: the number of contributors is falling and at the same time the number of beneficiaries is increasing. This will increase the pressure to initiate structural reforms in the social insurance branches. These are indispensable, also in order to avoid a massive increase in non-wage labour costs, which would be detrimental to employment.
Making optimal use of domestic resources, facilitating skilled immigration
Securing an adequate supply of skilled labour is one of the key tasks for safeguarding Germany's prosperity. A coherent and balanced overall strategy is also necessary to secure skilled labour in the medium to long term, which must include the development of all domestic potential and the
continue to be the key cornerstones of this. Employers are aware of their responsibility and are involved in a wide range of qualification initiatives across the entire education spectrum. Companies in Germany already invest well over €50 billion per year in in-company training and continuing education. However, failures in the education system, which are one of the main causes of shortages of skilled workers, cannot be compensated for by company commitment. Sustainable reforms are therefore absolutely necessary to improve the quality of the entire education system - starting with early childhood education and extending to general education schools and universities.
In addition, all domestic labour market potential must be tapped in the best possible way, especially from
- above all through better placement, activation and targeted promotion of the unemployed - it must be possible to significantly shorten job filling times and further reduce long-term unemployment. Moreover, a targeted and substantially increased immigration of qualified foreign specialists remains indispensable.