Occupations within the skills crafts sector, the metal and electrical industries, and the STEM disciplines (science, technology, mathematics) are particularly affected. Moreover, several healthcare and geriatric nursing professions are faced with a long-standing skills shortage of nation-wide dimensions.
In many places, it has become common to encounter difficulties filling vacancies, as is shown in an interactive map by KOFA, the centre of excellence for securing skilled labour (www.kofa.de [in German]). Whereas in 2011, 43% of vacancies had been advertised in occupations with skills shortages, this number had risen to 79% by 2018 (KOFA study 2/2019: Securing the supply of skilled labour in Germany – harnessing untapped potential). The deteriorating situation of the labour market is in part due to demographic change and an ageing workforce: while post-war baby boomers are reaching retirement age, far fewer young people are entering the labour market to replace them. Since young people are not only less numerous today, but also tend to have better school-leaving qualifications and are more likely to take up studies, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find suitable new employees in those occupations requiring a vocational qualification. According to the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training, young people’s demand for dual vocational training places reached a new low in 2019.
A particularly great need for vocational training
The biggest shortage is that of skilled workers with a vocational qualification. But in some occupations there is also a growing lack of specialists with a master craftsman’s certificate or Bachelor’s degree. The healthcare sector – and particularly nursing and care services for the sick and the elderly – is severely affected by the skills shortage. As the population ages, demand for carers will keep growing. And there is also a shortage of people with the right technical and craft-based skills. At a higher level, there is a lack of doctors, engineers and information scientists – key occupations which will help shape Germany’s economic future.
The occupations particularly affected by skills shortages include:
- Graduate occupations in the field of medicine, mechanical and automotive engineering, electrical engineering, IT and software development/programming.
- Crafts trades: electricians/electrical installers, lathe-operators, plastics process workers, pipe fitters, welders, mechanical technicians.
- Care services: healthcare and care for the elderly.
So Germany’s dual vocational training system needs to be bolstered. This task involves the whole of society. For this reason, the Federal Government, the Federal Employment Agency, commerce, the trade unions and the Länder formed the Alliance for Initial and Further Training at the end of 2014, and renewed it in August 2019. Together, the partners in the Alliance want to enable and to convince more young people to train for one of the more than 300 professions for which vocational training is available.
The south is suffering from the skills shortage – and the situation is getting worse in the east
The skills shortage varies not only from one occupation to another, but also in regional terms. The southern German Länder, with their strong economies, are particularly affected. In Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, occupations with skills shortages account for an 86 and 88% share of advertised vacancies respectively – as is illustrated in KOFA’s Länder profiles. In Thuringia, Lower Saxony and Rhineland-Palatinate, more than one in eight vacancies are advertised in occupations with a skills shortage.
KOFA’s interactive map shows that the shortages are not nation-wide, and that certain areas are particularly hard hit.