Germany assumes full responsibility as an “immigration country” in the face of its employment needs

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the World Economic Summit in Davos in January 2023.

“Our message is: those who want to roll up their sleeves are welcome in Germany! » This astonishing invitation from Chancellor Olaf Scholz, made before an audience of big bosses and decision-makers gathered in Davos (Switzerland), on January 18, says a lot about the evolution of the political consensus across the Rhine. Long hesitant to open its doors wide, Scholz’s Germany now assumes full responsibility as a “country of immigration”seizing the biggest platforms in the world to invite foreigners to join the country.

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Admittedly, Germany has little choice. The gap between the generations born between 1950 and 1970 and those, almost half as numerous, who were born from the 1990s will leave a gaping gap in the German pension and social insurance funds in the coming years. Thus, 13 million workers will leave the labor market over the next fifteen years, ie almost a third of all workers currently available. The employment agency estimates the need for immigration at 400,000 arrivals per year to compensate for the loss of labor across the Rhine.

Beyond the financial aspect, the human challenge is considerable: thousands of additional people will be needed to care for aging people, in a context where there is already a severe shortage of manpower in almost all sectors, in particular the construction, renovation of buildings or work necessary for the energy transition. Highly qualified employees will be needed to support the digitization and decarbonization effort targeted by the economy. The labor research institute IAB had, in mid-2022, 1.9 million unfilled jobs across the Rhine, an absolute record in the history of the country.

End of taboos

The Social Democrat, Greens and Liberals coalition in power has therefore agreed to considerably facilitate the reception of foreigners in Germany, and above all their desire to stay there. Several major reforms have been underway since autumn 2022 to provide Germany with a “modern immigration law”, according to the established formula within the government. Facilitation of regularization procedures for undocumented migrants, relaxation of the recognition of foreign diplomas, points classification system for immigration candidates, inspired by the Canadian model, and even future reform of nationality law: all taboos are jumping.

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