Despite the financial and economic crisis, since 2008 the German labour market has tended ever upwards. In July 2015 42.8 million people worked in jobs that are subject to mandatory social insurance contributions. The high employment rate of over 73.5 percent is an expression of the country’s sound economic situation, despite little assistance from the global economy. Germany is one of the EU member states with the lowest unemployment. In 2014 the unemployment rate was on average 6.7 percent, and thus at its lowest level since 1991. In particular growth in segments of the services sector is impacting positively on the labour market. According to a study by the Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Germany is set to increasingly become a service society in coming years. The rise in part-time employment likewise typically reflects trends in the labour market.
The low level of youth unemployment has drawn the world’s attention to the success of dual vocational training, which differs from purely school education. In most countries, the completion of schooling marks the start of working life. Having finished school, almost half of young people in Germany, however, embark on a course of training. These are offered in one of the 350 state-recognised occupations for which accredited vocational training is required within the framework of the dual system. The young people thus receive practical training in their company on three to four weekdays, while on the other day(s) they receive theoretical instruction at a vocational school. Several countries are currently adapting the system of dual vocational training.
With a view to creating a modern, fair and transparent labour market, the Federal Government has moreover realised numerous projects relating to labour-market policy. Since the beginning of 2015, for example, a statutory minimum wage of 8.50 euros has been in place, from which initially 3.7 million people are benefitting. Moreover, the quota for women is intended to ensure equal numbers of men and women in top management positions. This means that from 2016, listed companies and those that are subject to co-determination regulations must adhere to a 30-percent quota for women for seats on the supervisory board. Furthermore, the “Collective Bargaining Act” guarantees that within a company different collective wage agreements do not apply for the same work. What is more, as of 1 July 2014 those who can prove that they have paid social security contributions for 45 years can retire without any deductions at the age of 63.
In light of Germany’s demographic change, one of the country’s most pressing tasks is to secure its skilled labour base. “Make it in Germany”, a multi-language Internet portal for international skilled workers, is a major project designed to open up the labour market. It provides information about career opportunities for those interested in coming to Germany and has current job listings for professions in demand (healthcare, engineering and IT). Furthermore, thanks to the EU Blue Card graduates and skilled workers have easy access to the German labour market.