Germany desperately in need of engineers

Sun 2nd Jul, 2023

Engineers from other countries are drawn to the greater Munich area, but these professionals are extremely uncommon in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saxony-Anhalt, among others. This is demonstrated by a study that was released on Tuesday by the German Economic Institute (IW) and the Association of German Engineers (VDI). Immigrants from other countries are intended to help Germany fill its urgent need for more engineers. But there are significant variations between regions. 10,590 foreigners hold engineering jobs in the city of Munich alone; this is "more than in Hesse and almost twice as many as in Lower Saxony," according to IW researcher Axel Plünnecke.

However, more than one in four employed engineers in Starnberg, the district with the highest percentage of foreigners, are from outside the country. The Munich district is next, followed by the Main-Taunus district. The city of Munich and Pfaffenhofen, located north of the state capital, both rank among the top ten districts. The non-city state with the highest percentage of foreign engineers is Bavaria. At almost 13 percent, this figure is three times higher than the next-to-last states, Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

However, without more foreign engineers, local businesses would struggle to fill positions and economic growth would stall. According to Dieter Westerkamp, the responsible department head at the professional association VDI, "Without a large immigration of foreign skilled workers, we will no longer be able to close the gap in the job market for engineers.". And the distance has only grown wider. A good 170,000 engineering and computer science positions are open, which is a fifth more than the previous year, according to the VDI. Westerkamp cautions, "It's missing everywhere, and things are precarious.". This has very real repercussions, such as when businesses or government agencies are unable to launch digitization or construction projects because of a shortage of skilled laborers.

The universities and companies present on site are primarily to blame for the significant variations in the percentage of foreign engineers. The proportion of engineers with foreign passports in the area will increase if there are technical universities with a large foreign student population. International corporations' factories have a comparable impact. For a very long time, the percentage of foreign engineers in Brandenburg's Oder-Spree district stayed between two and three percent. However, by the end of 2020, the value had increased threefold in just a few short months because of the Tesla factory.

The VDI is now advocating for increased engineering recruitment in Germany. A bill to make it easier for skilled workers to immigrate was recently presented by the federal government. The professional association applauds this but requests that procedures in the embassies and immigration offices be expedited concurrently. Westerkamp claims that a staffing shortage in the immigration offices is to blame for the lengthy wait times for visa appointments, which some immigrants must endure at the German embassy.

Another study, the skilled labor migration monitor from the Bertelsmann Foundation, also indicates issues with the law. Companies were questioned about their encounters with foreign skilled workers as part of the study. Consequently, managers are reportedly becoming more and more dissatisfied with the administrative, legal, and recognition challenges they face. In any case, the report claims that only every sixth surveyed company tries to fill the skills gap by hiring foreign workers. Therefore, the majority of managers seek different ways to assist themselves.

However, two developments are to blame for the fact that the shortage of engineers and computer scientists cannot be filled without immigration. On the one hand, the demand is rising, for instance because of digitization or the switchover of production to environmentally friendly technology. On the other hand, as society ages, many engineers are retiring, and at the same time, there are fewer first-year students in Germany. In the fields of mathematics or natural and engineering sciences, 143,000 young people began their studies in 2016, but only 126,000 did so in 2022.

Germans, according to VDI representative Westerkamp, must realize that immigration is almost certainly necessary to keep up their current standard of living. As a result, locals should make foreigners who are in high demand feel welcome. We need a culture of welcoming skilled workers (FWK)," says Westerkamp, even coming up with its own, somewhat awkward term for it. ".


Topic was orgiinally reported in Suddeutsche Zeitung:

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