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Business & Innovation

Attractive Labour Market

Thanks to short-time work during the Corona crisis, the German labour market remains stable and offers attractive career opportunities for international skilled workers.
Attraktiver Arbeitsmarkt
© Gorodenkoff/

At the beginning of 2020, the German labour market was not far off full employment. In the first quarter of 2020, the figure of 45 million people in employment was more than ever before. During the Corona crisis, however, the unemployment rate in June 2020 rose by 637,000 on the previous year to reach 2.8 million, while the number of employed people working reduced hours was more than 6.8 million (in April). Provided that a second wave of the pandemic is avoided, economists are predicting a V-shaped development in economic performance and thus a rapid recovery in the labour market. Short-time working already proved to be a useful tool back during the 2008-9 economic and financial crisis, enabling companies with a substantial shortfall in demand temporarily to put employees on short-time hours but with state support. This helps to avoid redundancies and makes it easier for the economy to pick up again.

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.

Attractive career opportunities for international skilled workers

In light of Germany’s demographic change, one of the Federal Government’s most pressing tasks is also to secure its skilled labour base.

It was to this end that it introduced the Skilled Immigration Act, which has been in force since 2020. This enables skilled workers from non-EU countries to gain more straightforward access to the German labour market. This was necessary since ever more companies have been unable to fill even well-paid positions that offer excellent prospects for personal development in fields ranging from the trades to engineering. Previously, only skilled workers with academic training had unlimited access to the job market, but this now also applies to skilled workers with a vocational qualification obtained abroad. The prerequisite for this is recognition of the qualification by a responsible body within Germany.

If the skilled worker has enough money to live on and their knowledge of German is sufficient for the work they are aiming to do, they can enter the country to look for a job. They will receive a residency permit and can work a trial period of up to ten hours per week.

A similar regulation now applies to applicants for places in training and education. Previously only those interested in studying for a university degree were able to enter the country to seek a place, but now those seeking other kinds of training are also eligible. The prerequisite for this is knowledge of German, a high school leaver’s certificate from a German school abroad or a school qualification for university entry, a maximum age of 25, and independent funds to support you.