There are hardly any industrialized countries in which the density of rules is as high as in Germany. There are rules for everything. Germany is tripping itself up with this. The job market is the best example: immigrants willing to work face high hurdles and companies complain about the lack of workers.

Immigrants still face high hurdles if they want to work here, but companies are complaining about the lack of workers. Politicians have not yet solved the problem.

“Germany has slipped” is the finding of a foundation made up of well-known family businesses. The finding refers to everything that is regulated by the state in Germany. And if the so-called “regulatory density” is high, then that’s bad from the companies’ point of view. Since Germany has slipped from 14th place to 19th place out of 21 possible places, Rainer Kirchdörfer, Chairman of the Foundation, speaks of results “that must shake things up”.

In the underlying study, several areas are examined, one of which is the labor market, where the phenomenon currently prevails in Germany that despite the increasingly poor economic situation, there is a shortage of workers and, in particular, skilled workers. The situation is getting worse as more and more people are retiring but fewer are taking up work amid the demographic problem of an aging population.

The foundation also attributes the situation, which is now threatening for companies, to the high level of regulation that people are confronted with, for example, who immigrate to Germany and want to work here. Immigration would help, but very few immigrants can help because they get bogged down in rules before they’ve even shaken hands, is the unanimous criticism of trade associations and corporate human resources managers.

Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) and his party and cabinet colleague, Interior Minister Nancy Fraser, see that the economy has a point here and want – not for the first time – to facilitate the immigration of skilled workers from countries outside the EU. Two years ago, Heil launched the Skilled Immigration Act – but the success left a lot to be desired. The minister, who has been in office for four and a half years, has now recognized that securing skilled workers is crucial for securing prosperity in Germany.

“If you don’t succeed in getting that right now, it will slow down growth.” Part of Fraser and Heil’s new concept is a point system, which Heil speaks of as an “opportunity card”. On the basis of a quota to be determined annually, jobseekers from third countries should be able to come to Germany if they meet three out of four criteria. These are training, language skills, age and professional experience, said Heil – which, bottom line, sounds more like more than less regulation.

Surftipps: Migration to Germany – what the pull factor means and what the consequences are

The smoldering topic also concerns the state-financed Federal Agency for Civic Education, which is not known for statements critical of the government. In a position paper she writes: The challenges of labor market integration have not been resolved. “This can reduce the attractiveness of the German labor market for well-trained international workers and, with regard to the existing and forecast shortage of skilled workers, become problematic both economically and for society as a whole.”

Bottlenecks in filling skilled positions that require vocational training were particularly evident in craft and construction trades as well as in health, nursing and geriatric care. But the need for highly qualified people, especially in the fields of human medicine and IT, cannot be fully met at the moment. Calculations up to the year 2040 made it clear that the bottlenecks would continue to worsen.

The main problem is always regulation. Because Germany insists that immigrants have a professional qualification that is formally considered equivalent to German standards as part of a recognition process. And that’s where the dual training system, of which Germans are always particularly proud, causes problems in practice.

The globally unique approach of dividing the training between the company and the vocational school regularly means that competent immigrants cannot work in this country in accordance with their qualifications – because the approach is unique. If equivalence cannot be determined right away, but can be achieved through appropriate further training, the Skilled Immigration Act also enables post-qualification in Germany, which means that immigrants must first learn the language. English is often not an option in such courses.

In the coalition agreement, the parties promised to make it easier for refugees to access the labor market. The economy has long been calling for the legal “change of lanes” from asylum seekers to sought-after specialists. That would enable many companies to employ these people and ensure legal certainty. It happens again and again that perfectly integrated employees are deported overnight. If that changes, the refugees would have a safe start in Germany at the same time. However, little has happened here beyond the declaration of intent from the coalition agreement.

The Frankfurt employment lawyer Axel Boysen recently explained the actual reasons for the lack of success of immigrants on the labor market in a specialist article for the magazine “Markt und Mittelstand”: In addition to the lack of recognition of qualifications, there are low wages and insufficient knowledge of English in the responsible ones authorities an obstacle. Germany is therefore by no means one of the world’s most popular immigration countries for skilled workers, which can hardly save itself from qualified personnel willing to enter the country. “Rather, numerous hurdles and peculiarities of the local labor market ensure that the people concerned prefer to opt for the Scandinavian countries, the United States or the class leader Canada,” writes Boysen.

He makes the following calculation: Many systemically important professions such as nurses are better paid in an international comparison than in Germany. “The lack of appreciation for the employees, who sometimes have to work to the point of exhaustion and do not receive adequate remuneration for this, deters potential buyers at an early stage.”

Looking at an OECD study, Boysen is right: Luxembourg pays nurses an average of 114,064 euros a year. Belgium (89,445 euros) and the USA (77,670 dollars) follow in second and third place. According to the study, the average salary of a nurse in Germany is only 42,000 euros.

Another factor identified by employment lawyer Boysen and which is still holding Germany back from becoming an attractive country for immigration of skilled workers also has to do with regulation. It consists in the fact that the authorities do not have any documents in English. Only German is recognized as an administrative language. Foreign-language immigrants encounter a significant barrier when it comes to the obligatory visits to the authorities. Boysen proposes recognizing English as the second administrative language and making it easier for migrants with little knowledge of German but high professional competence.

Friedrich Heinemann, author of the study for the Foundation for Family Businesses and professor at the Leibniz Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim, states: “In some fields, such as the construction of liquid gas infrastructure, we are observing an astonishing speed in the approval procedures during the energy crisis. But that’s still the big exception.”  Implementing this speed on the labor market, for example, would be an approach that companies desperately looking for workers would welcome

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The article “Why immigrants can’t find work even though they are urgently needed” comes from WirtschaftsKurier.