Shortage of skilled workers: largest gaps in typical male and female occupations

The shortage of skilled workers in Germany has been increasing across all sectors for years and is slowing the German economy. A recent study by German Economic Institute (IW) shows that many skilled workers are lacking, especially in occupations with unequal gender ratios.

The shortage of skilled workers is one of the biggest challenges facing the economy. Across all occupations, there is currently a shortage of almost 540,000 skilled workers - and the trend is rising. The gaps are particularly large in social work, education, nursing, IT and the skilled trades. The ten occupations currently most affected by the shortage of skilled workers can be described as typically male or female.

In the skilled trades, there was a total shortage of 87,000 skilled workers last year - with the areas of construction electrics, plumbing, heating and air conditioning technology, and automotive technology being particularly hard hit. 

In five of the ten particularly affected occupations, the proportion of women was recently very high at at least 76.6 percent. In the other five severely affected occupations, this phenomenon is exactly reversed: Here, the proportion of female employees is particularly low. In plumbing, heating and air conditioning technology, only 0.4 percent of employees are women, while in automotive technology the figure is 4.5 percent.

The German government's skilled labor strategy focuses on exploiting all potential - both in Germany and abroad. To ensure that every skilled worker has a chance of working in his or her learned profession, It must be possible to compare vocational qualifications acquired abroad with comparable German reference occupations. This is precisely where the BQ-Portal ( comes in. Since 2011, all relevant information and experience on foreign vocational qualifications and vocational training systems has been pooled on this platform. Cometent bodies and companies can use the information portal to compare foreign qualifications with German qualifications.

IW press release [in German]