Doors opened to immigrants with vocational qualifications

The new Employment Ordinance has been in force since 1 July. The list of occupations in which people with vocational training qualifications from non-EU countries can access the German labour market is now also in place. Following the "EU Blue Card" for the highly skilled, the improved recognition of foreign vocational qualifications and the relaxations in the rules for students from non-EU countries who wish to stay on to work in Germany, this is a further important step towards making it easier for workers from outside the EU to enter the German labour market and towards covering the skills gap in the German economy via migration.

Federal Minister von der Leyen stated: "We need qualified immigrant workers to help safeguard prosperity in Germany on a long-term basis. We are suffering shortages not only at graduate level, but also in mid-range skills. The new whitelist of occupations requiring vocational qualifications shows that companies are desperately seeking skilled workers in many sectors - not only graduate engineers, but also workers with vocational qualifications. The whitelist makes it easier for companies to cover their skills needs quickly and reliably. This helps companies to stay competitive and thus to create jobs for job-seekers in Germany as well."

Federal Economics Minister Dr. Philipp Rösler stated: "Thanks to this whitelist, the new Employment Ordinance can now become fully effective. By opening up our labour market for people with vocational qualifications from countries outside the EU, we have achieved a major milestone in our efforts to tackle the skills shortage. The publication of the list of occupations affected by a skills gap marks a step forward in many respects. Firstly, it is a strong welcoming signal for skilled workers from abroad. Secondly, it sends out a clear signal to the business community and the workforce that the Federal Government is putting the policies in place for sustainable growth and higher employment."

For the skilled workers to be able to access the German labour market,

the vocational qualifications they have obtained abroad must be equivalent to a German qualification, and there must be a skills shortage in the respective occupation, i.e. there must be a lack of people possessing a certain qualification who are available on the German labour market.

The Federal Employment Agency ascertains which occupations are experiencing a skills shortage and keeps the whitelist in line with the developments on the labour market. It approves recruitment from abroad in these occupations if the terms and conditions of the jobs offered are not less favourable than those for comparable domestic workers.

Following its six-monthly analysis of the shortage situation, the Federal Employment Agency has now placed the relevant occupations in the whitelist (pdf file in German and English: 464 KB).

In the case of the nursing professions, recruitment of skilled workers is not permitted from countries which are themselves suffering from a shortage of health workers according to the WHO.