Bitkom on the Bundestag debate on the skilled labour strategy, Berlin, 20 January 2023

January 20, 2023

The Bundestag is debating the Federal Government’s skilled labour strategy. Bitkom President Achim Berg explains:

“The shortage of skilled workers is jeopardising the digital future viability of our country. Across all sectors, there is already a shortage of 137,000 IT specialists, and 53 percent of companies cite a lack of skilled workers as the biggest obstacle to digitisation. We must address this structural shortage of skilled workers, both abroad and at home. The Federal Government’s skilled labour strategy can make an important contribution to this if it makes things easier in two areas: the requirement of German language skills and formal educational qualifications.

IT experts often do not need to know German to be able to do their job successfully. Proof of German language skills for visa issuance should be waived. It is quite sufficient if these language skills are acquired during the stay in Germany. By requiring highly developed language skills prior to entry, one is in fact limiting the immigration of skilled workers to foreign students who wish to remain in Germany after completing their studies. Otherwise, the opportunity for controlled, professionally qualified immigration that is geared to demand will be missed.

In addition, the cumbersome and bureaucratic recognition procedures for formal educational qualifications should be dispensed with for IT specialists. Especially in IT, competences are predominantly acquired through courses and qualification measures beyond the formal institutions. No one can judge the suitability of applicants better than potential employers in Germany. And so it should also suffice for the potential employer in Germany to check whether there is sufficient professional experience. In addition, the influx of qualified professionals often fails due to cumbersome and bureaucratic procedures, which is why the visa process as well as recognition procedures must be fully digitalised. 

But it is also important to make better use of the existing potential at home. This includes the targeted promotion of further training and qualification in digital skills and facilitating lateral entry. But we need to start even earlier: More young people, and especially women, need to be inspired for STEM professions in schools. The fact that there is still no nationwide compulsory subject in computer science in 2023 is evidence of analogue inertia in schools and administration.”

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