Current demand for skilled workers in Germany
Despite the Corona crisis, the consequences of demographic change in Germany are still clearly noticeable and pose a major challenge to companies. According to an analysis by the German Economic Institute (IW), there is a shortage of around 308,400 qualified workers (April, 2023) in the 36 so-called STEM professions. For STEM skilled workers and STEM specialist occupations (e.g. technicians, master craftsmen) alone, in April 2023 the shortfall of skilled workers was 134,100 and 33,000 respectively.
Overall the skilled worker gap has decreased during 2020 and related to the COVID19 pandemic. Nevertheless, some occupational fields and industries that have come through the crisis in a comparatively stable manner are already showing a positive employment trend with increasing shortages of skilled workers (see KOFA study 1/2021 and KOFA Kompakt 1/2023). This includes the construction industry and parts of the skilled trades. Due to the declining population trend, the number of skilled workers in demand will increase (again) in the coming years. This applies, above all, to skilled workers who have completed vocational training.
In addition, due to the demographic change the proportion of pensioners compared to the working population will continue to rise sharply. For example, the "Reliable Intergenerational Contract" commission (Kommission „Verlässlicher Generationenvertrag“) set up by the German government expects the number of employees subject to compulsory insurance and unemployment benefit recipients to fall from over 35 million in 2018 to around 32 million by 2045. At the same time, the number of pensioners will grow from just under 20 million to over 24 million.
This makes it even more important to tap into all available potential.
Occupational recognition as an opportunity
To ensure that all skilled workers with foreign vocational qualifications living in Germany have a chance to work in their learned profession, it must be possible to compare vocational qualifications acquired abroad with German qualifications. This possibility was already created in April 2012 with the so-called "Recognition Act".
Since the Skilled Workers Immigration Act (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz, FEG) came into force in March 2020, occupational recognition has gained importance for another reason: With the new Act, in most professions the recognition of the respective foreign professional or university degree is now a prerequisite to immigrate to Germany from third countries for the purpose of employment.
Since the Recognition Act came into force, employees of competent bodies (e.g. the professional chambers) have been entrusted with the task of comparing professional qualifications acquired abroad with German qualifications. To be able to do this, they conduct so-called equivalence tests (Gleichwertigkeitsprüfungen) in which foreign vocational qualifications are compared with German reference occupations (Referenzberufe). This requires extensive knowledge of foreign vocational training systems and vocational qualifications. However, it was very difficult to access relevant information in the past.
This is where the BQ-Portal, launched in 2011 on the initiative of the German Federal Ministry or Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), comes in:
The information portal for foreign professional qualifications bundles all relevant information on foreign professional qualifications and vocational training systems on one platform.
- As a learning system, it contributes to a continuous build-up of knowledge and information. The focus is primarily on countries and occupational groups for which a considerable number of applications for occupational recognition have been submitted or are expected to be submitted.
- Because of the BQ portal, assessment procedures in Germany have become more uniform and transparent.
- The portal optimises the exchange of information as well as the networking of chamber employees.
- At the moment there are 103 published country profiles with more than 5,390 job profiles on the BQ portal.
- More than 430 users are registered in the BQ-Portal.
- Background information on the diploma assessment practice in Germany, a wide range of exchange and networking opportunities, well-founded working aids, as well as individual advice and training services for registered users round off the BQ-Portal's offer.