The German labour market has tended ever upwards in recent years. On an annual average, in 2017 44.3 million people were in gainful employment in Germany. The high employment is an expression of the country’s sound economic situation. Germany is one of the EU member states with the lowest unemployment. In 2017 the unemployment rate was on average 5.7 percent, and thus at its lowest level since 1990. This development is borne by a broad-based economy. Firms’ demand for new staff is continually rising. As in prior years, in 2017 it was above all employment subject to social insurance contributions that strongly increased. The figures for marginal employment and self-employment continued to fall.
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 realised numerous projects relating to labour-market policy. Since the beginning of 2015 a statutory minimum wage has been in place. Moreover, the quota for women is intended to ensure equal numbers of men and women in top management positions. Since 2016, listed companies and those that are subject to co-determination regulations have had to 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.
The Federal Government aspires to achieve full employment. Yet in light of Germany’s demographic change, one of the country’s most pressing tasks is also 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.