27/06/2017

Prospects

Germany’s Vibrant Labour Market

The overall situation

Of all the countries in the EU, Germany currently has one of the lowest levels of unemployment. According to Eurostat, Germany’s average rate of unemployment in 2013 was 5.3 percent, a figure that compares very favourably with the world’s other leading economies. Indeed, both domestic and foreign media are already using the word Jobwunder to describe the exceptional performance of Germany’s labour market. At present, there are excellent job prospects in a number of sectors in Germany.
Germany’s Vibrant Labour Market

Particularly welcome is the fact that young people are also able to find apprenticeships and jobs. Unemployment among people between the ages of 15 and 25 currently stands at 7.9 percent in Germany. This is one of the lowest rates among the 27 EU member states, where average unemployment for the under-25s was 23.1 percent in 2013. Experts identify Germany’s dual system of vocational training and education – which combines an on-the-job apprenticeship with a course of study at a vocational school – as a crucial factor in Germany’s job market. This means that new recruits join a company at an early age, and that employers can help ensure their apprentices successfully complete their training. Likewise, graduates of universities and the more practically oriented universities of applied sciences also have excellent chances of quickly finding a good job.
Regional differences

Despite the positive situation overall, there are certain regional differences in the German job market. For instance, employment prospects are good in certain areas of southern Germany, in the states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. Here, unemployment rates are comparatively low.
Differences according to qualifications
Differences according to qualifications

Aside from regional economic differences, employment prospects also depend on an applicant’s precise qualifications. Graduates of universities or universities of applied sciences have a relatively easy time finding employment. As a rule, the same applies to job applicants with a vocational qualification, such as an apprenticeship. For those without a vocational qualification, the prospects are substantially worse. In other words, the employment prospects for immigrants to Germany are excellent, particularly if they are well-qualified and have a basic command of the German language.
The reasons for the revival of Germany’s labour market

Germany has achieved a remarkable turnaround. Back in 2005, unemployment stood at 11.3 percent, among the highest in the EU. Since then, the situation has continuously improved, even throughout the severe economic and financial crisis of 2008 onwards. Experts agree that there are two main reasons for this: first, government reforms to increase flexibility on the labour market; and second, the impact of demographic change, which means a dwindling supply of skilled workers to replace those entering retirement.
Future prospects
Future prospects

Will the situation on the German labour market remain equally favourable in the coming years? Given the ups and downs of the economy and other global developments, it is, of course, hazardous to make any firm predictions here. Apart from short-term fluctuations, however, experts agree that Germany’s labour market is essentially governed by two factors. Both indicate that the demand for skilled labour will remain high in Germany and that there will continue to be very good opportunities for skilled workers from abroad.
Factor 1: Demographic change

Of all the countries in Europe, Germany is one of the most strongly affected by demographic change. The German birth rate plunged towards the mid-1970s and has remained around the 1.4 mark ever since – well below the replacement rate of 2.1 required to maintain stable population levels. At the same time, life expectancy has continued to rise, thus raising the number of older people in the German population. This trend has already started to impact on the labour market, where a fall in the supply of freshly trained skilled workers is now leading to shortages in qualified labour. In the future, this contraction and aging of the working population will become increasingly acute. Given that qualified labour is crucial to the success of the German economy, skilled workers will remain in big demand for years to come.
The strength of German industry
Factor 2: The strength of German industry

Although Germany is not immune to economic developments in the rest of Europe and elsewhere, its highly competitive industry can include itself among the winners of globalization. Moreover, there is every indication that German industry will retain this strong position in the future. After all, German companies supply innovative and competitive products, particularly in the global markets of the future, such as infrastructure, environmental protection, and conservation of resources. Yet it is only by recruiting skilled workers and well-trained graduates that German companies will be able to maintain their competitive edge.

Foreign Skilled Workers on the German Labour Market

Germany as a country of immigration
Germany as a country of immigration

Although it is not a widely appreciated fact, Germany has been one of the most popular immigration destinations in the world for some time now. Some 11 million of the people currently living in Germany were actually born elsewhere. In other words, over one in eight members of the German population is an immigrant. The proportion is even higher among the working population, where one in seven is originally from another country. All in all, one in five people in Germany has a migrant background.

As with other countries, certain areas in Germany tend to attract people with a migrant background. Many of Germany's immigrant population live and work in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, and Frankfurt. There is also a significant proportion of immigrants in many other cities and towns in western and southern Germany. By contrast, there are still relatively few people with foreign roots living and working in the states that make up the former German Democratic Republic.
The origins of Germany's immigrant population
The origins of Germany's immigrant population

Europe accounts for the biggest proportion of Germany's immigrant population. Four out of five members of Germany's immigrant population are nationals of another European country, and 31,6 percent are from within the EU. Overall, the major country of origin is Turkey, which accounts for 23 percent of the foreign nationals living in Germany. This is followed by Italy, which accounts for almost eight percent. Around seven percent of the foreign nationals living in Germany are from Poland, which is now the third largest country of origin, and Germany is also home to significant numbers of immigrants from Austria, the Balkan states and Russia.

Many families from Italy, Turkey and the other EU member states in southern Europe first came to Germany during the recruitment of guest workers from 1955 to 1973 and have long since become an important part of the German population. Important lessons were learnt at the time about how to meet the challenges posed by immigration.

The group of expatriates – expats in short - has gained increasing importance in the last few years. Such international experts live and work for their companies in Germany for a limited period of time.
The occupations of Germany's immigrant population

German society is increasingly heterogeneous. The foreign nationals who arrived with the first wave of guest workers from Greece, Spain or Turkey had jobs in industry and usually stayed there. Their children, however, already had access to much wider career opportunities. Today, members of Germany's immigrant population occupy a whole variety of positions in German industry, the services sector, and meanwhile also the civil service and the media - ranging from simple clerk to senior executive. People from Germany's immigrant population also tend to be highly entrepreneurial and are often self-employed. Indeed, this is a growing trend. Today, more than 600,000 people with a migrant background run their own company. In other words, migrants are an important factor in the German economy. And you can be a part of it too – invest and set up your own business in Germany. Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI), the economic development agency of the Federal Republic of Germany, is there to help. Its “Investor Guide” explains the immigration and residence criteria for business people and the legislation surrounding business creation in Germany. You will also find some valuable tips on corporate taxation, and on the aid available for start-ups. You will find further information here.

With its current employment prospects, Germany is an attractive destination. Immigration to Germany is currently rising. In future, certain sectors of the labour market will need to intensify their recruitment of skilled workers. Employment opportunities will continue to increase, particularly in the healthcare, engineering, IT, and many other commercial and technical sectors.

Study in Germany

A wide variety of study and research opportunities await you in Germany. German institutions of higher education enjoy an excellent reputation around the world, providing stimuli for innovation and progress that are significant even on the international level. This makes Germany one of the most popular destinations for international students.

What are the conditions to study in Germany and how you apply for a place at a university – you will find out in the category “Five steps to studying in Germany”.
The different types of higher-education institution

In Germany, there are three different types of higher-education institution: traditional universities for distinctly academic studies; universities of applied sciences for studies with a greater practical focus; and art, film and music schools for artistic studies. Most German institutions of higher education are state-funded. There are also privately supported institutions and others that are financed by the Catholic or Protestant Church. They offer over 16,000 programmes. A database containing all of these programmes is available at www.hochschulkompass.de/en.html. Another database containing over 1,000 international bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programmes – most of them conducted in English – can be accessed at www.daad.de/deutschland/studienangebote/international-programs/en/.

By the way: International students can benefit from the academic quality and reputation of a German institution of higher education – but without having to leave their country. In cooperation with partner institutions – predominantly in Asia, Central Europe and Eastern Europe – many German institutions of higher education offer numerous German programmes of study in other countries. Binational institutions have also been established, such as German University in Cairo (GUC) and German Jordanian University (GJU), as well as offshoots and extensions of German institutions – such as GuTECH Oman, an institute connected to RWTH Aachen.

The increasingly popular dual programme of study and vocational training is not a pure programme of higher education in the traditional sense, since prospective students must also apply – as with an apprenticeship – directly to companies cooperating with the higher-education institution. Successful applicants complete alternating periods of practical training in a company and periods of theoretical study at an institution of higher education or a university of cooperative education. As a rule, the qualification obtained corresponds to a bachelor’s degree combined with a vocational qualification.
The cost of studying

Academic studies in Germany incur relatively low costs. All students at institutions of higher education pay a minor semester fee, part of which covers social facilities provided by the university and, in many cases, a ticket for the local transport network. However most public universities do not charge tuition fees. Only in the state Lower Saxony students have to pay fees (€500 per semester) until the summer semester 2014. But all over Germany certain master’s programmes can have tuition fees. Certain privately funded institutions also charge tuition fees.

Vocational Training in Germany

In Germany, training for many vocations is provided by means of a dual programme of training and education. Apprentices spend three to four days a week at a company providing vocational training, where they acquire the practical skills required for their field of work. The remaining one or two days are spent at a vocational school, where apprentices receive a theoretical grounding in their future job.
Vocational Training in Germany

Depending on the vocation and the level of basic knowledge, an apprenticeship lasts between two and three-and-a-half years. During this period, apprentices receive a training allowance from their company. On average, this is around €650 a month, depending on the field of work. Those who successfully complete their training are often taken on permanently as a skilled worker by the company. Moreover, if they perform well in the workplace, there is also the opportunity to train further to become a master craftsman or a state-certified engineer, and then to rise to a managerial position in the company or to set up in business and become self-employed. Many prominent people, including former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, began their career with a course of vocational training.
Training in Germany

EU citizens have been eligible to apply for apprenticeships in Germany for a number of years now. This is a consequence of the so-called freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services within the European Union. For young people from the EU, the chances of securing an apprenticeship in Germany have improved in recent years. This is because the German economy is currently so vibrant that there are not enough applicants to fill all the apprenticeships on offer. Indeed, youth unemployment in Germany is among the lowest in Europe. As a result, more and more German companies are now looking to other EU countries for suitable apprentices and are delighted to receive applications from there.

Given that an apprenticeship generally involves attending a vocational school, applicants are also required to be competent in the German language. However, measures to improve language skills can also be undertaken in parallel to an apprenticeship. Under certain conditions, nationals of non-EU countries can also undergo vocational training in Germany. In such cases, it is advisable to consult at an early date with the company offering the training and with the relevant government agency. Before a visa application is lodged, the prospective employer can also request clarification from the International Placement Service (ZAV) as to whether the offer of vocational training is practicable in the specific case.
Looking for an apprenticeship

In the dual system of vocational training and education, apprentices are appointed directly by the company providing the training. Applicants must submit the application themselves, just as if they were applying for a normal job, although the employment agencies do provide assistance here. As a rule, apprenticeships start in August or September. Many companies look to recruit their apprentices well in advance. Frequently, apprenticeships are advertised and filled up to a year before they begin. In some fields, such as nursing, geriatric nursing, and childcare, training is organized centrally at a special school, which provides both basic and more advanced instruction. In between, there are longer time blocks involving practical experience in various institutions.

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