Germany facing a skill shortage is ready to welcome foreign workers to run its businesses. The retirement of baby boomers combined with a low birth rate has brought a drastic reduction in the local skilled talent. Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy states that if foreign workers are not hired, the country’s workforce could be reduced by 16 million workers by 2060.
Another study conducted by the German Federal Employment Agency’s Institute for Employment Research states that the country must hire 491,000 foreign skilled workers from non-EU countries each year to meet labor market demands. Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, states that 47,589 overseas workers were hired last year, which is only about 10 percent of the required number.
With the German Skilled Migration act coming into effect from March 1, the country’s existing laws and regulations relating to employment of overseas workers have been amended. These include Germany’s Residence Act and its Employment Regulation rules.
The new act will open Germany’s job market to overseas workers who do not have academic degrees. Apart from university graduates, individuals with vocational training or those with work experience but no formal education can also apply for jobs now.
Under the new law, employers seeking to hire skilled workers will no longer need to do a priority check which the government had insisted upon earlier to ensure that the job vacancies cannot be filled with German or EEA citizens.
The priority check will not be required if the foreign workers will be employed under the same working conditions as German citizens. The act has also made amendments to the Residence Act which will now consider those with a vocational degree on par with those who hold an academic degree. From now on foreign workers will be considered as skilled workers within the scope of the Residence Act. The law provides direct permanent residency to these foreign workers within four years.
With the introduction of the Skilled Migration Act, the government hopes to simplify the immigration process for qualified workers from outside the country and for German employers. The new law has provisions to accelerate the application process and provide German businesses with the skilled talent that they need.
Implications for overseas job applicants
With the passage of the act, qualified professionals who have vocational, non-academic training and are from non-EU countries can move to Germany to search for work.
The new law has modified the classification of a qualified professional. It will now include individual with a tertiary education degree or vocational training after a training course of two years. Such professionals must have their qualifications recognized by German authorities before they begin to work in the country.
The new law exempts overseas professionals who have relevant qualifications and a job offer from Federal Employment Agency checks to expedite their application process. But the Federal Employment Agency is still responsible for checking the employment conditions.
Those looking for a job in the country can still come here under the jobseeker visa provided they meet the eligibility requirements. However, under the new rules, applicants need not prove their proficiency in the German language. The employers can decide if the prospective candidate’s language skills will be enough for performance in the selected job.
What the new law means for employers
The new law benefits German employers making it easy to search for and hire qualified overseas talent in order to grow their business. They will also benefit from the fast-track application and decision process for visas. They can take advantage of this when they have identified highly qualified candidates.
The relaxation of provisions under the Residence Act and the priority check will mean faster processing of the visas so that they can quickly hire the foreign talent that they need.
The Skilled Migration Act that has come into force will ensure qualified professionals can be hired by German businesses to fill the skills shortage in the country. It is up to jobseekers and German employers to make the best use of the provisions in the act.