Shortage of skilled workers: Andrea Nahles’ ideas against labor shortages – Economy
electric cars and skills shortage have one thing in common: both things have been talked about for a long time – but it is only now that German industry is realizing what they mean. At least in the case of a labor shortage, the present has long been a given. Mathematically, it is not that difficult to calculate when, on average, after the birth, the final graduation is due and when the pension. Nevertheless, many are now surprised at how difficult it is to find staff at the moment. More companies than ever before since the survey began are complaining an Ifo surveythat they lack employees. But it doesn’t have to stay that way – says Andrea Nahles, head of the Federal Employment Agency and former SPD chairwoman. At the Munich Economic Debates, a series of events organized by the Ifo Institute and the Süddeutsche ZeitungNahles made three suggestions to help against the labor shortage.
According to Nahles, the greatest potential is also the fastest to leverage: in women. Because in Germany they very often work part-time compared to other European countries. About every tenth woman with a part-time job would like to work longer, quoted Nahles survey results from the IAB, the research institute of the Federal Employment Agency. On average, it’s about twelve hours a week – quite a lot. In surveys, women often name family and household as an obstacle to working more. The question of so-called care work must also be discussed, said Nahles. But employers could also do something: more flexible working hours would often help. Nahles reported on a nurse in Saxony-Anhalt who was unable to start a job because the shift started at six o’clock – too early to be able to drop off her child in a daycare center. The single parent has therefore now switched to a temporary work agency, where she can start later. Nahles therefore appealed to companies to approach women in the workforce and ask them whether and how flexible working hours would help. Since the women are already trained for their jobs, the additional work would go directly to the companies.
Secondly, the career orientation of young people must be better promoted, said Nahles. The federal agency, parents and companies are now particularly in demand after the corona pandemic. The epidemic, the contact restrictions, the school closures not only hit the boys mentally, they also disrupted career plans enormously. “We saw a huge dent in internships,” said Nahles: Far fewer students would have seen a company from the inside during the epidemic. These personal contacts and experience are important for the way into the profession. She called for making 2023 an internship year in order to reestablish the contacts between students and companies that were torn by the epidemic. The federal agency also offers virtual parents’ evenings to help with career and study choices. “Parents are the most important career advisors,” Nahles said.
Third, Nahles spoke about the elderly. Here, too, many could imagine working longer if it was good for their health, said Nahles. Most of them would then stay in the same company and would like to hang on a little longer – although it’s often “a little bit” and not a 40-hour or more week. But in view of the lack of staff, one day more helps some companies. As with women, flexibility is also crucial for older people: If the working hours adapt to the living conditions, a lot is gained, says Nahles.
Immigration is also necessary
The Federal Employment Agency, one of the largest authorities in Germany, is itself affected by demographic change, Nahles reported: Of the 113,000 employees at the Federal Employment Agency, around 35,000 would retire in the next ten years for reasons of age.
Nahles’ three proposals – longer working hours for women, better training, more jobs for pensioners – aim to get more out of the German labor market. According to the Federal Agency, migration is also necessary so that enough workers are available. Mathematically, 400,000 immigrants per year are needed for this, after all emigrants have already left. Germany is not an unpopular immigration country, Nahles emphasized, but there is one thing: “I’m a Germanist and I love the German language, but it’s a competitive disadvantage.” In addition, the migration debate should not be abbreviated, she warned: “There are no specialists coming, people are coming.”