Germany currently has fewer workers in so-called ‘MINT’ occupations (mathematics, informatics natural sciences and technology) than at any time since December 2012. This is despite the fact the number of skilled immigrants arriving to fill shortages in related occupations is rising.
According to this year’s MINT spring report from the Cologne Institute for Economic Research, there are 137,100 qualified workers in these industries missing from the workforce. And the report reveals that this number would be higher were it not for skilled immigrants. The number of foreigners in the MINT workforce increased by 11.3 per cent between the fourth quarter of 2012 to the third quarter of 2014 – over four-times as sharply as for German workers in these fields.
However, companies in the MINT sectors are being urged to increase their intake of non-EU immigrants. The vast majority of foreign workers moving to Germany in the past three years have come from other European countries, particularly Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.
According to Thomas Sattelberger from the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, employers should be more willing to look further afield for skilled talent, especially those in the country’s eastern states, who Sattelberger says are still reluctant to hire immigrants.
“Mental reservations against immigration are the most significant there,” he explains. “Eastern German states run the risk of sawing through the branch that they actually need most urgently.”
One of the main reasons that Germany is facing such a shortage of workers in the MINT industries is said to be because of the country’s relatively low retirement age, which currently stands at 63. Approximately 18 per cent of the country’s current MINT workforce is aged 55 or over, meaning the country will be facing even greater shortages over the next decade.
In recent years the country has tried to broaden its appeal to immigrants beyond other EU nations, but so far its success in doing so has been decidedly mixed.