Skilled worker shortage in the skilled trades

More skilled workers to arrive soon from south-east Europe

A pilot project aims to pave the way into the German skilled trades for skilled workers from Bosnia Herzegovina. The basis for this is the Skilled Immigration Act which entered into force on 1 March 2020.

Taking the migration of skilled workers from Bosnia Herzegovina as an example, the German Central Association of Skilled Trades (ZDH) and the Federal Employment Agency want to gain experience in acquiring workers from non-European Union (EU) countries. "We are looking forward to working on equal footing with our Bosnian partners," said ZDH President Hans Peter Wollseifer at the launch of the pilot project funded by the Department for Economic Affairs.

Working together with the labour administration in Bosnia Herzegovina, the search for personnel shall initially focus on the skilled trades occupations shown to have a shortage of skilled workers: electronics technicians, metal workers and plant mechanics for sanitary, heating, and air conditioning systems. The aim is for the “model” placement of around 120 skilled workers.

Measure to support the Skilled Immigration Act

The basis for the pilot project is the Skilled Immigration Act which entered into force on 1 March 2020. The aim of this is to enable the skilled workers and future skilled workers from non-EU countries under certain conditions to work in Germany. This applies for example if they are able to demonstrate they have a job, sufficient German language skills and the relevant professional qualifications.

However, it is still unclear how the law should be implemented in practice. This is where the project is expected to help. "This allows us to trial the recruitment of skilled workers to meet the requirements of German skilled trades companies in a very targeted manner and gain some valuable insights into migration to Germany," said Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Peter Altmaier (Christian Democratic Union, CDU).

Koblenz, Munich and Potsdam Chambers selected as the focus

There is the issue, for example, of how professional qualifications can be recognised and how potential second chance training can be efficiently organised. This is the only way in which those concerned have a chance of permanent residence in Germany.

The Chambers of Munich, Koblenz and Potsdam as well as the relevant sector associations for the selected occupations will focus mainly on these issues, added Karl Sebastian Schulte, ZDH Managing Director.

Contact made with Bosnian employment agencies

As the joint communication further explains, intensive discussions are now taking place regarding cooperation with the Labour and Employment Agency (ARZ) in Bosnia Herzegovina. Skilled trades President Wollseifer believes the cooperative arrangement will provide further opportunities: "With this pilot project, the skilled trades are not only undertaking pioneering work in recruiting foreign skilled workers for small and medium-sized companies," he said. "New opportunities are also emerging for exchange between the two countries in vocational education and training," he added.

According to ZDH estimations, there is already a shortage of around 250,000 skilled workers in the skilled trades. Half of companies are already complaining that the vacant positions cannot be filled.

Source: (article in the magazine of the German crafts sector), revised by iMOVE, July 2020