Reuters, August 17, 2018
The German cabinet will soon decide on a proposal to make it easier for skilled workers from outside the European Union to move to Germany to take a job, a paper seen by Reuters shows, as Germany seeks to alleviate chronic labor shortages.
Such plans could be sensitive in a country where anti-immigration sentiment has helped drive support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and a row over asylum policy almost toppled Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government in July.
The new proposal mainly addresses relaxing migration policy for professionals outside the EU, since EU citizens enjoy free labor movement in the bloc.
A lack of skilled labor and a shortage of young people willing to commit to on-the-job training for up to 3-1/2 years have become big concerns for managers in Europe’s largest economy.
Germany bet on more than a million refugees who arrived in 2015 to fill workforce gaps, but a lack of German-language skills and the inability of most refugees to prove any qualifications has slowed the process.
A record 1.2 million jobs remain unfilled in Germany, the Federal Labour Office said earlier this month.
Germany already has a “blue card” system that makes it easier for companies to hire foreign academics and professionals.
The paper proposes that the government will no longer insist that companies give preference to German citizens in filling vacancies before looking for non-EU foreigners.
Graduates and workers with vocational training will have an opportunity to come to Germany to look for a job within a certain period of time if they meet qualification and language requirements.
They will not have access to social welfare benefits during that period but will be allowed to work in jobs for which they are overqualified so they can earn some money, the paper added.