“Skill shortages are a shared challenge”
Translated from Pressemittelung: Ost-Ausschuss gründet neuen Arbeitskreis Fachkräftesicherung (www.ost-ausschuss.de)
On the 8th of October 2020 the new working group on securing skilled workers of the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations of the German Economy met online for its founding meeting. From now on it will deal with a pressing issue that affects Germany and the countries of Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe equally: the increasing shortage of skilled workers and specialists. Despite a current increase in unemployment caused by the Corona crisis, the topic continues to be one of the biggest obstacles to innovation and growth for the members of the association and for the economy as a whole.
“In recent decades, Germany has been able to partially compensate for its serious shortage of skilled workers through immigration from Central and Eastern Europe, where there was a labour surplus for a long time. This picture has changed fundamentally. The shortage of skilled workers has become our common problem, for which we urgently need to find solutions,” emphasises Oliver Hermes (President & CEO Wilo Group), Chairman of the Committee on Eastern Europe. “Low-birth cohorts and the continuing migration from Central and Eastern Europe are aggravating the situation on the local labour markets. Even German companies that have invested heavily there over the past three decades and are able to offer above-average working conditions are finding it increasingly difficult to fill and refill vacancies,” says Hermes. The skilled worker immigration law introduced by the Federal Government, which provides for easier access to work in Germany for skilled workers from certain countries, could even exacerbate these bottlenecks.
Reconciliation of interests between Germany and the region
Enrico Rühle, Chairman of the Management Board of Festo Didactic SE and spokesman of the working group, also mentions “the reconciliation of interests between Germany and the 29 partner countries of the Committee on Eastern Europe” as one of the most important working goals. “Immigration to Germany must not automatically tear gaps elsewhere. It is precisely the innovative and creative minds that are crucial for the countries to achieve positive economic and social developments,” says Rühle. “The best starting point we have in common is the issue of further qualification. All the countries in the region are very interested in successful concepts for this”. Close partnerships between German companies, the regional economy and local training institutions would contribute to the solution. The fact that the Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations with its member companies already has broad expertise in this area is demonstrated by the Zoran Djindjic Scholarship Programme of the German Economy for the countries of the Western Balkans, which has been running successfully for 17 years and with whose help more than 800 young junior staff from the countries of the Western Balkans and Croatia have been trained in German companies. Many of them are now working in key positions in the economies of their home countries.
In addition to the further qualification of committed career starters, factors such as a modern school system, a functioning and high-quality health care system or a functioning administration are crucial. Only in this way will the locations remain attractive for foreign and national companies. “Hollowed out societies and bleeding countries would quickly become a major risk factor for the entire European Union”, Rühle emphasises. “We are all in the same boat.”