More digital procedures, less paperwork and faster processes – all this doesn’t really sound like the sluggish, bureaucracy-loving Germany and also not like the old lady SPD. For this reason alone, the new initiative by Labor Minister Hubertus Heil to reform the Skilled Immigration Act is beneficial.

But sarcasm aside: Above all, the faster recognition of foreign qualifications is a smart and long overdue step. Germany needs immigration, and immigration that leads to successful integration on the labor market.

Because the shortage of skilled workers is greater than ever and continues to grow. The future of social systems is at stake. And Germany, one of the oldest countries in the world, has to reorganize its healthcare system. But that doesn’t work without immigration. Only the die-hards are completely opposed to it.

Detlef Scheele, head of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), puts the need for immigration at 400,000 per year. But just 3,200 people were recruited by his International and Specialist Placement Agency in 2021; most of them for nursing. That was at least 700 more than in 2020 – but far too little in relation to our own target.

This may have been due to the corona restrictions. But even in previous years, it was far from 400,000. Targeted recruitment accounts for only a fraction of immigration to Germany. This is where we need to start, for example through more efficient and digital administration, which is more inviting than discouraging.

So Heil’s advance comes at just the right time. Finally, one would like to exclaim: the often-repeated demand for detoxification passed past Heil’s predecessors. Germany must now prove that it will not repeat the mistakes of 2015. No matter how you retrospectively classify the refugee movement of the time: making it more difficult and complicated for hundreds of thousands of young men to access the labor market has proven to be a mistake. Heil himself now says: “I think we’ll do better this time than in 2015.”

The minister will have to be measured against that. Because labor market integration is not a sure-fire success just because there is less paperwork. Heil must therefore be careful not to promise too much – especially since the minister is currently in announcement mode. In the case of “climate money”, however, this has backfired. By going it alone, Heil alienated both the opposition and his coalition partners.

Even if Heil, when asked by WELT, still leaves open when the simplifications in recognition will actually come into force, cross-departmental cooperation seems to be working better on this point. The education, labor and interior ministries are apparently pulling in the same direction.

Caution should also be exercised when it comes to the content of the acknowledgments. Anyone who has studied medicine in India, for example, will probably still have to undergo further training in order to operate on open hearts in Germany. That’s fine too, as long as migrants aren’t plagued with countless trips to overwhelmed and ailing offices. The recognition is not wrong per se, because it ensures the quality of the work – only the procedures have remained at the level of 20 years ago.

And of course there is also the question of integration. The German language will remain the key to success in many professions, and the reform will not change that. Integration is hardly possible without language courses – neither at work nor in society.

“Everything on shares” is the daily stock exchange shot from the WELT business editorial team. Every morning from 7 a.m. with our financial journalists. For stock market experts and beginners. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Amazon Music and Deezer. Or directly via RSS feed.