Avoiding skills shortages - securing qualified young talent
The competitiveness of the German economy depends crucially on well-qualified skilled workers. This makes it all the more worrying that skills shortages are now not a cyclical problem, but increasingly a structural one.
There are already shortages of skilled workers in many sectors and regions, particularly in the care professions and in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The effects of the coronavirus pandemic are also being felt there. However, IT workers in particular are excluded from this: the gap remains large. Due to the increased digitization requirements, the current crisis is further increasing the demand for IT specialists. Despite the crisis, there are still almost 1 million vacancies (IAB, 2020).
The population in Germany, and therefore the number of potential workers, is shrinking and will continue to age in the coming years. Even the comparatively high immigration figures before 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 over-65s to the number of 20- to 65-year-olds, is expected to deteriorate dramatically - from one to three today to one to two in 2030. This means that there would only be two people of working age for every person over 65 (Federal Statistical Office, 2019).
With a declining and ageing workforce overall, the structural skills shortages that are already evident today will become even more acute. By 2025, there could be a shortage of almost 3 million skilled workers, most of whom have vocational qualifications (Prognos, 2019). The demographic trend also has serious consequences for social security systems. This applies in particular to statutory pension insurance and long-term care insurance: the number of contributors is falling while the number of beneficiaries is increasing. This will increase the pressure to initiate structural reforms in the social security branches. These are essential, also in order to avoid a massive increase in non-wage labor costs that would be detrimental to employment.
Make optimal use of domestic resources, facilitate qualified immigration
Securing a sufficient supply of skilled workers is one of the key tasks for safeguarding prosperity in Germany. A coherent and balanced overall strategy is also necessary to secure skilled workers in the medium to long term, which must include the development of all domestic potential and
continue to be the most important cornerstones. Employers are aware of their responsibility and are involved in a wide range of training initiatives across the entire education spectrum. Companies in Germany already invest well over €50 billion per year in in-company training and further education. However, shortcomings in the education system, which are one of the main causes of the shortage 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 - from early childhood education to general education schools and universities.
In addition, all domestic labor market potential must be tapped in the best possible way, especially by
- above all through better placement, activation and targeted support for the unemployed. At the same time, targeted and significantly increased immigration of qualified foreign skilled workers remains indispensable.