There is a shortage of skilled workers everywhere in Germany. At least 990,000 qualified unemployed face 1.2 million job vacancies. But what could fit, is often not. The good news: There are ways out of the skilled labor crisis.

Securing skilled workers is not an end in itself for companies, but essential for the productivity and innovativeness of the economy, the prosperity of society and for overcoming current challenges such as climate change and digitization.

The shortage of skilled workers has increased noticeably in recent years. Even the corona pandemic could not change that. On the contrary, in some areas, such as the hotel and catering industry, the shortage of skilled workers is even greater than ever after the measures have expired. The need for action is obvious.

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Due to good economic development, the number of all vacancies has increased since 2010. The number of unemployed has fallen. There are currently 1.2 million vacancies for qualified specialists compared to 990,000 qualified unemployed. In four out of ten professions there are not enough skilled workers to fill the vacancies. Social and healthcare professions as well as technical and manual trades are particularly affected.

At the same time, there are professions in which the number of unemployed people is greater than the number of vacancies. All in all, this means that even if all vacancies were filled with suitably qualified unemployed people, there would still be 500,000 vacancies and 1.4 million unemployed people without a job.

The problem is what is known as a mismatch, i.e. a mismatch between the qualifications employers are looking for and the existing qualifications of the unemployed. Some also speak of a skilled labor paradox.

Qualification is a key factor in securing skilled workers: In purely mathematical terms, this alone could solve a large part of the shortage. Even if it is not realistic for many adults to complete a full apprenticeship again, the opportunity to do so exists: the dual apprenticeship is basically open to everyone, regardless of age. Partial qualifications also offer an opportunity to gradually acquire formal qualifications and thus be able to use them more quickly.

dr Anika Jansen and Paula Risius deal with the topics of securing skilled workers, the labor and training market at the German Economic Institute.

The state provides financial support for many qualification measures, for example through the employment agencies, and the federal states provide infrastructure such as schools and universities. However, the responsibility for the implementation of or participation in educational measures also lies with private individuals and companies.

Increasing the volume of working hours can make a further contribution against the shortage of skilled workers. Of the current 32.4 million employees, roughly half men and half women, every third person works part-time. 77.9 percent of them are women. Basically, good working conditions can make people want to work more.

In order for employees to be able to increase their working hours at work, the framework conditions must be right: companies can make it easier for employees to extend their working hours through flexible working hours, support in looking after children or relatives in need of care or home office regulations.

Germany is 84 million people. Germany is the fourth largest economy in the world. Germany likes to present itself as modern and cosmopolitan. But there are many places in our country’s engine room that are stuck. The effects of Corona and the Ukraine war are clearly noticeable. Of course, we are by no means lost. On the contrary! FOCUS online has asked bright minds from science and practice, from associations and think tanks to draw up a roadmap in their respective fields for the future of our country, for Germany 2025. The question was what Germany must do now in order to be successful in the short, medium and long term. For example in the energy supply, internal and external security, public finances, the fight against pandemics and many other topics.

To this end, the state must also expand childcare and care for the elderly. This, in turn, is difficult, because in the ranking of the occupations with the greatest gaps in skilled workers, childcare takes second place and geriatric care takes third place. Here the cat bites its own tail, so to speak, because if there is a staff shortage, the workload often increases and the working conditions deteriorate; you can feel that especially in nursing. It is all the more important to take countermeasures quickly.

The mobilization of potential domestic skilled workers alone will not be enough, because Germany will be dependent on immigration in the long term due to demographic change. The baby boomers are now retiring and by 2030 there are expected to be 5 million fewer people of working age. According to estimates, Germany needs annual net immigration of 400,000 people to compensate for demographic change.

The actual net immigration varies greatly and averaged 294,000 people over the last 30 years. But immigration is also a challenge, since the issuing of visas is sometimes delayed due to staff shortages at the authorities and integration has to be successful in the long term. In order to leverage the potential of international skilled workers and avoid return migration, it is the task of companies and society to approach this target group and to integrate them sustainably – also socially.

As paradoxical as it sounds, we need skilled workers to take many measures to combat the shortage of skilled workers. This is precisely why it is so important to take countermeasures early on. We all bear responsibility for this: Private individuals do the work and invest in their qualifications. Companies create good working conditions, approach different target groups and support their employees with qualifications.

Employers’ associations, but also projects such as the BMWK-funded competence center for securing skilled workers (KOFA) help companies in this. And the state supports both private individuals and companies with appropriate framework conditions. There is no such thing as “the one” panacea for solving the shortage of skilled workers; instead, many points must be addressed.