Germany losing 20 billion a year due to skills shortages

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Germany's skills shortages are causing the economy to lose billions a year, according to a report commissioned by Economy Minister Michael Glos.

"The value-added loss resulting from positions that remain vacant is in the double-digit billion euro range. It could be up to 1 percent of gross domestic product," the report stated.

According to the report, one percent would be more than €20 billion for 2007.

Germany is experiencing shortages in the manufacturing, engineering, metal, and electrical sectors. However, the country has been historically resistant to large scale immigration which could help alleviate shortages.

Ironically, the country is experiencing a high unemployment rate of 9 percent -- but that figure dropped in July after companies increased production and hiring.

Glos said that Germany's failure to train its native population in the skills required by its fastest growing export industry could inflict long term damage to the European Union's largest economy.

Politicians have been cautious about approaching immigration as a solution to the problem, fearing the vote-losing consequences of a topic that is not very popular with Germans.

Instead, they have been pushing companies to hire women and older workers, as well as foreigners living in Germany.

Germany currently requires non-EU members wishing to work in Germany to make at least €80,000 a year and has the toughest restrictions on workers from the new EU member states that joined in 2004 and 2007.

Business are not happy with the government's response to the skills shortage problem and want them to take a more open approach to immigration. The government feels that businesses just want cheap foreign labor.