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German Lawmakers Approve Plan to Attract Skilled Workers to Plug Labor Gap

It is a "points system" that takes professional experience and other factors into account.

Nancy Faeser, Federal Minister of the Interior and Home Affairs, speaks during the debate on the skilled labor immigration bill at the plenary session in the German Bundestag in Berlin, Friday June 23, 2023.
Nancy Faeser, Federal Minister of the Interior and Home Affairs, speaks during the debate on the skilled labor immigration bill at the plenary session in the German Bundestag in Berlin, Friday June 23, 2023.
Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa via AP

BERLIN (AP) — Germany's parliament on Friday approved plans to attract more skilled workers to Europe's biggest economy and help address labor shortages in a growing number of professions.

Lawmakers voted 388-234 in favor of the legislation, with 31 abstentions. It foresees a "points system" taking into account professional experience and other factors, along the lines of systems already used by countries such as Canada. It will ease entry rules for information technology specialists who lack university degrees but have other qualifications.

Asylum seekers who arrived before March 29 and have both qualifications and a job offer can get a residence permit as a professional if they withdraw their asylum applications — eliminating the need to leave the country and apply anew for a work permit. Highly skilled workers will be allowed to bring more relatives to Germany, so long as they can support them financially.

Germany has grappled for years with the need to attract more skilled workers from outside the European Union. Experts say the country needs about 400,000 skilled immigrants each year as its aging workforce shrinks.

The national labor agency said earlier this month that an annual analysis showed 200 out of about 1,200 professions it surveyed had labor shortages last year, up from 148 the previous year. It said that bus drivers, service jobs in hotels and restaurants and jobs in metalwork were among those that joined the list.

Other professions where Germany is struggling to fill jobs are in nursing care, child care, the construction industry and automotive technology, along with truck drivers, architects, pharmacists and information technology specialists.

"The shortage of skilled labor is considered one of the biggest brakes on economic growth in Germany, and skilled workers are missing everywhere," Interior Minister Nancy Faeser told lawmakers. She described the legislation as "a huge step for the future of our country."

Andrea Lindholz, a senior lawmaker with the main conservative opposition bloc, decried the plan as one that would above all bring in low-skilled people, allow migrants who are supposed to leave to stay and reduce German language requirements.

She asserted that the government is "creating new incentives for illegal immigration to Germany."


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