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The future of Germany depends on the recruitment of foreign labor

The sectors most affected by the lack of qualified labor in Germany are education, social work, health and care, construction and manual trades, as well as the so-called STEM professions (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Germany has its sights set on labor in Latin America. Successful pilot projects in Mexico and El Salvador mark the start of recruitment efforts.

The recruitment of labor from countries that do not belong to the European Union is of strategic importance for the future of Germanypoint out the authors of a recent study on the German labor market, from the Science and Policy Foundation (SWP, for its acronym in German).

According to the publication, in the coming years, the active population will decrease drastically as a result of the retirement of the generation of the baby boom or birth explosion. The most affected sectors are education, social work, health and care, construction and manual trades, as well as the so-called STEM professions (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

Importance of less skilled jobs

In the last decade, Germany has opened its doors to foreign labor. Until now, nonetheless, he had focused mostly on highly-skilled workers. Through current reforms, the country is also seeking to attract staff for jobs that require less qualificationexplains Steffen Angenendt, one of the authors of the study.

In an interview with DW, Angenendt details the biggest obstacles to recruiting labor: “The German authorities are too slow, bureaucratic, they are not digitized enough and they do not cooperate well with each other.” Obtaining a work visa, as well as recognition of foreign careers and professional qualifications remain complicated processes, she adds. Likewise, the language represents another challenge.

Pilot projects in Latin America

Which Latin American countries are especially interesting for labor recruitment? Chile, as a member of the OECD, as well as Argentina and Brazil, where a large German diaspora lives, responds Angenendt. In addition, in recent years, pilot projects for youth recruitment and training have been carried out in El Salvador and Mexico.

In 2019, the dual training program APAL (Ausbildungspartnerschaften Lateinamerika) was born in El Salvador, and it was expanded to Mexico in 2021. The initiative of the Federal Employment Agency of Germany seeks to attract young professionals from the health sector.

The Goethe Institute of Mexico is in charge of preparing young people at a language and cultural level. For educational consultant Michael Kobs, security is one of Germany’s great attractions, especially for young women, who enjoy the freedoms the country offers, he told DW.

The APAL program promotes “fair migration”, he maintains, since it offers participants the possibility of continuing to expand their studies even after dual training. Thus, young people are expected to decide to live longer in Germany.

The biggest challenges

In the Mexican state of Puebla, the civil organization ACTUAR AC works with young people to improve their quality of life, from the aspect of human development, leadership and violence prevention. Within the framework of the “Youth with Impact” program, it currently cooperates with the German company Hansen & Willenborg Consulting, which seeks to train young people for work in the hotel and gastronomy sector, in the northern town of Timmendorfer Strand.

For Susana Serrano, general director of ACTUAR AC, the language is a great disadvantage for young Mexicans who want to work in Germany. “It is a language that not everyone has access to in Mexico, since language schools are very expensive, and young people with limited resources cannot afford it.” In addition, “English and French are more widely accepted among Mexicans,” adds Björn Lisker, from the German-Mexican Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

«In many cases, it is complicated and late to revalidate Mexican titles and certificates in Germany. This often leads to a situation in which the Mexican, when starting his work in Germany, can only carry out simple jobs and under supervision, while in his country he had already worked independently. That can be frustrating, “he says in an interview with DW.

Lastly, Susana Serrano points out that, for many Mexicans, it is difficult to find work with fair wages in the career they decide to study: “Therefore, when they apply to participating German companies, the human resources areas are astonished to see to young people with degrees, who are looking for work in areas in which they did not study. But, in Mexico, many are looking for opportunities to grow economically and support their families.”


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