Chaos, endless queues and canceled flights: This summer, half of the republic will experience what was previously the experience of passengers at BER, commonly known as Berlin breakdown airport. The main reason for the misery: there is a lack of staff.

When the pandemic brought airports to a standstill, jobs were shed on a large scale. Now that the travel starts again, it’s taking revenge, because they are not occupied. So there are tons of vacancies – and too few applicants. Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil now wants to have thousands of workers flown in from Turkey to remedy the situation.

However, a new seasonal recruiting deal is not the long-term solution to the problem. Because first of all there are not as many applicants as is always claimed. In May, for example, there were around two jobseekers per registered job in security and surveillance professions.

In addition, although the federal police are responsible for controls at most airports, they outsource this task to security services, which change frequently for cost reasons. And those who work there have to be trained and checked, since these are official tasks – which can take months.

Apparently things are more efficient in Bavaria, where there has been no great chaos so far: the controls there are not in the hands of the federal police, but the responsibility of the respective security company.

But the basic problem is also the attractiveness of the positions. The problem shows far beyond the airports: the era of so-called unemployment is upon us.

The shortage of skilled workers is no longer a theoretical construct: it has arrived in our everyday life, as the shortage in the catering and event industry shows. If you find something better, you change, is the strongly simplified conclusion of some economists on the change movements on the labor market.

More serious is the gap in healthcare. In gastronomy, the shortage may be annoying, but still manageable – in nursing and clinics it is by no means so. Experts have been warning of bottlenecks here for some time. Too many employees are turning away from the industry, and it is not very attractive for young professionals. And the figures for the targeted recruitment of foreign skilled workers are hardly worth mentioning.

The airline industry, on the other hand, will only benefit Heil’s plan in the short term. It is unclear where the workers are to live; unclear what they do after the travel season. Be ready on call for the next German chaos weeks? The fact that security staff are the new harvest helpers must not be a claim to salvation.

On the other hand, experts regularly present what needs to be done in the case of general unemployment: targeted recruitment of foreign skilled workers, easier recognition of qualifications, higher female employment rates through better compatibility of work and family, targeted raising of the potential of the unemployed.

Heil and his cabinet colleagues want to start here. But the numbers so far are downright alarming, especially for the first two points. At the end of the legislature they will speak a clear language.

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