HHistorical experts differentiate between point events and long-term trends. Occasional events can have serious consequences – like Corona – and in some cases – like Corona – they attract almost everyone’s attention. Often, however, they only overlay the long-term trends that make the difference between promotion and decline.
One such long-term trend is the aging of the workforce in Europe and especially in Germany. It is by no means that older workers are less productive; there is simply a lack of subsequent talent.
Almost all major economies have too few young skilled workers, not only, but especially in the high-tech areas that will create the prosperity of tomorrow. You are counting on recruiting them on the international job market. Some economists therefore speak of a “battle for talent”.
In the past few years, Germany has been quite successful in recruiting top foreign talent. But now Europe’s largest economy is falling behind. However, the other countries of the Old World have slipped even further while Asia is catching up.
In Europe, Germany remains the dream destination
The management consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the online job platform StepStone (like WELT, belongs to the media group Axel Springer) and the career network The Network carried out a large-scale survey years ago to determine the attractiveness that a nation radiates on an international level for qualified employees started.
At certain intervals, working people around the world are asked which country is the preferred place of work for them. Almost 208,000 employees from 190 countries were interviewed for the current study, called “Decoding Global Talent”. The result reveals which economies are rising and falling in the reputation of skilled workers.
The good news: there is no other country in Europe that is mentioned as a preferred place of work internationally as often as Germany. The country in the middle of Europe is a dream destination for people from many nations. A total of only three countries were named more frequently in the survey than the Federal Republic of Germany: the USA, Canada and Australia – all three English-speaking nations with a long tradition as immigration countries.
“Even if Germany only ranks fourth, we are still number one among the non-English-speaking countries worldwide,” explains StepStone managing director Sebastian Dettmers. But it is also true: Europe’s largest economy lost its popularity among potential immigrants in 2020. In 2018, Germany was still number two in the world.
France is the biggest relegation
The experts from Boston Consulting and StepStone see a connection with Corona. States and societies that were successful in containing the pandemic are now mentioned more often than the average as destinations.
As a result, Asian countries – even those not necessarily known as immigration countries – are more strongly represented in the top ten today than they were in 2018, when the last survey was carried out. Noticeable: The virus-stricken USA had to give up their top spot to neighboring Canada in the Corona year.
According to BCG and StepStone, Japan, which has improved from tenth to sixth place in the last two years, has risen sharply in the reputation of skilled workers around the globe, while Singapore – recently not even among the top ten – is now eighth.
The biggest relegation is France, which deteriorated from sixth to ninth. “Demographic change will hit the German labor market with full force in the next ten years and massively exacerbate the shortage of skilled workers across all occupational groups,” says Dettmers.
“It takes immigration from other countries”
In 1956, 1.1 million people were born in Germany (the 64-year-olds today who will soon be retiring), and in 2002 (the 18-year-olds who are the next to start their careers) there are only a little over 700,000 births. Without extending the working life, the German labor market would lose around 400,000 employees annually.
In spite of the recession, the shortages are unmistakable, particularly in the natural sciences, but also in health professions. “In order to cope with the shortage of skilled workers, immigration from other countries is needed,” says Rainer Strack, Senior Partner at BCG and co-author of the study entitled “Decoding Global Talent”. If German companies want to emerge stronger from the crisis, they should see the attractiveness of Germany as an advantage and increasingly look for talent abroad.
However, the data from the study also show that international mobility, i.e. willingness to go abroad, is decreasing. “Fewer and fewer employees are willing to work outside their home country,” write the experts. This is also, but not only, due to the virus crisis, which has led to travel restrictions in many places.
“In 2018, 57 percent of those surveyed stated that they wanted to go abroad for the job, but only just under 50 percent of employees are now willing to do so. In 2014 it was 64 percent, ”says the study. There were still four years between the first two surveys, but the data suggest that the willingness to move had already decreased before the pandemic.
Germany is particularly popular in neighboring countries
In Germany, the willingness to go abroad for a job is also not particularly pronounced. Only around 45 percent of local employees would also work beyond the German borders – compared to the previous survey in 2018, willingness has decreased by another ten percentage points.
The preferred destination countries are also telling. The German-speaking neighboring countries Switzerland and Austria were mentioned most frequently. The USA and Canada follow in third and fourth place. In total, there are five direct neighbors of the Federal Republic of Germany among the top ten preferred countries.
Conversely, Germany is at the top of the wish list for employees from Austria and from Eastern and Southeastern Europe. The Federal Republic of Germany was also mentioned more often than any other destination by Turkish employees.
If you look at the level of qualifications and training, a job in Europe’s largest economy is the first choice, especially for industrial workers. According to Boston Consulting and StepStone, Germany ranks third among the highly qualified, behind Canada and the USA.
The same sequence of mentions can be observed for younger employees. A position in Germany in the group of “digital talents”, who see Canada, the USA and Australia as particularly attractive career stations, appears somewhat less attractive.
“We don’t have a vision for the future”
“Germany is still the most attractive country in Europe, but we don’t have a vision for the future,” explains Dettmers. “We have to ask ourselves which problems of the future we as a country would like to solve.” Climate protection or the automation of production are two issues for which Germany could stand internationally in the long term. “Only with a vision for the future will we be able to reverse the trend.”
“In order to increase the well-being of foreign talent, employers should pay attention to inclusion and diversity – that means, for example, ensuring equal opportunities in the hiring process and equal pay,” recommends BCG partner Strack. In addition, companies should train their managers in such a way that they can lead multicultural teams.
The metropolis of Berlin is obviously a plus point for Germany. No other city in the Federal Republic is mentioned so often by international employees. This means that Berlin ranks fourth worldwide. The metropolis with a population of 3.8 million can score particularly well with employees with a master’s degree or doctorate.
“Although the big German companies are not based in Berlin, Berlin is still a cosmopolitan city that benefits from its international and flourishing startup landscape,” says Dettmers. That is exactly what makes it so attractive for skilled workers from abroad to work there.
In the international popularity ranking, Munich (26) and Hamburg (35) follow at some distance. Both megacities have lost three places compared to 2018. Berlin itself slipped one place. The top cities named were London, Amsterdam and Dubai, which improved by three places, while the epidemic center New York deteriorated by six places to eighth place in the Corona year.
The continuing appeal of Berlin is also changing the face of the city. Mathematically, the entire population growth over the past ten years can be traced back to the influx of people with foreign passports.
There are now almost 800,000 non-Germans living in the German capital, which is more than a fifth of the population. The statisticians of the State Statistical Office register that the level of education of immigrant Berliners is increasing. According to the statisticians of the State Statistical Office, 42 percent of people living in Berlin with a migration background aged 25 and over had a high level of education.
For people without a migration background, the proportion was 40.5 percent. However, among foreigners living in the city, the proportion of people with a low level of education is significantly higher at 24.8 percent than among people without a migration background (8.3 percent). In total, around 1.2 million people in Berlin have a migration background, i.e. were born abroad themselves or have at least one foreign parent.