When Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) meets his G-7 counterparts in Wolfsburg, three main issues are at stake: ensuring employability, job security and strengthening the welfare state.

“For me, the protection of employees in the necessary design of the ecological and digital change is at the top of the agenda of our G-7 presidency,” says Heil, who is representing the ministers from France, Canada, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and the USA in the German industrial city has loaded.

Lower on the agenda are issues where Germany looks rather bad among the G-7 countries: the ever-increasing gap in skilled labor and the decline in vocational training. Several new studies show the dramatic problems facing the Federal Republic.

The shortage of skilled workers in Germany has reached a new high, according to a survey by the state development bank KfW and the Ifo Institute for Economic Research. According to the “KfW Skilled Workers Barometer”, 44 percent of German companies now feel that their business is being held back because they lack skilled workers. At the same time, the number of vacancies reached a new record high of more than 850,000.

The gap is particularly large in the scientific and technical professions, as the “MINT Spring Report” shows. The STEM skills gap also reached a new negative record in April with 320,600 missing workers.

The report is prepared twice a year by the German Economic Institute (IW) on behalf of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, Employers’ Association of Gesamtmetall and MINT Zukunft. In April 2021, the gap was half that at 159,800.

“Without the MINT immigration successes of recent years, around 312,000 additional workers would be missing in Germany today and the gap would be over 600,000,” comments Alex Plünecke, Head of the Education, Immigration and Innovation Competence Field at IW Cologne.

The gap is growing due to demographic change – but especially because the number of students has been increasing for years and that of trainees has stagnated at best. The federal government’s vocational training report shows that the number of newly concluded training contracts in 2021 rose slightly by 1.2 percent to 473,100 after a significant decline in the previous year.

However, the number remains well below the pre-corona level (minus 9.9 percent compared to 2019). Occupations in the health, education and social sectors show declines. This development does not only bode well for the future of the social systems. Current projects of the traffic light government are also in danger of failing.

“You don’t have to be a prophet to see that all projects, for example in climate protection and housing construction, will come to nothing if politicians don’t strengthen vocational training now,” said Hans Peter Wollseifer, head of the Central Association of German Crafts (ZDH), to ” picture” on Monday. More young people would have to be won over for training again, and this would also have to be put on an equal financial footing with academic education.

In order to implement projects such as the construction of 400,000 apartments per year or an 80 percent share of renewables in the power supply by 2030, companies would need significantly more qualified craftsmen, Wollseifer continued. According to Wollseifer, there were already 250,000 vacancies in the trades before the pandemic. Many employees would also retire in the next few years – so the gap threatens to widen again.

According to the IW and KfW, what is needed in particular is more immigration of skilled workers. The energy and transport transition, digitization and the strengthening of the care system: According to the researchers, all of this, according to the report, can only be tackled if more specialists follow – and not just those with a degree.

The authors of the study recommend “improving” the strategy for securing skilled workers. This also includes a further opening of the labor market for non-academics from abroad.

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