Shortage of skilled workers in the German labor market due to demographic changes

Never before are more people in employment in Germany. However, long-term unemployed continue to have problems finding a job. At the same time the economy is desperately on the empty swept labor market for skilled workers. Many companies have to search and advertise for months before they can fill a vacancy for an engineer.

Skilled workers and qualified craftsmen are rare. But these are only the forerunners of demographic change, the distortions in the labor market will soon have to follow throughout Germany. Germany is like no other country in Europe affected by demographic change. By 2050, Germany’s population will shrink by around seven million people to 75 million. Since the birth rate fell sharply in the mid-1970s, they moved permanently to values ​​of 1.4 – far below the average level of 2.1. Due to the higher life expectancy of the population while declining birth rate, the proportion of older people is increasing compared to the proportion of younger people. More people go there to retire, as that new staff be succeeded. This gives the so-called loss of know-how potential, which can have serious consequences for a company. Since moving up less new professionals, qualified personnel is becoming increasingly scarce.

Then in several sections threaten staff shortages. Particularly serious problems are likely to be in the care sector. Because in an aging society, more and more elderly people need medical help while shrinking the number of active workers.

In the fight against shortage, policy therefore looks at three groups of people that need to be mobilized: the women, the elderly and immigrants. The reconciliation of work and family life and a longer working life are essential to maintain the balance between pensioners and contribution payers.

Maybe a family-friendly concept is the solution. Family-friendly workplaces wins in Germany but also from employers view important. So are now 84 percent of the top managers of the view that utilizes the economy, when companies are family-friendly. Three quarters of the companies appreciate the importance of family friendliness for the company as “very important” or “important”, they say. Specifically the question of “career or child”, which many women have to make, should be easier to answer by the family friendliness. With this concept, a child should not exclude the career and therefore the demographic changes should be captured.


written by Yvonne Kohaus, Carl-Frederic Korn and Hasan Can Acar


6 thoughts on “Shortage of skilled workers in the German labor market due to demographic changes

  1. If you compare this post with the post “Working conditions in the global fashion industry”, you can see, that the lack of laws protecting pregnant women and families with kids can end up in the big problems of the country’s economy. I thing Germany would not have such a big problems to cope with this problem because of the strength of the economy and the legislative. But you can see what can happen, if the countries governance doesn’t care enough about the pregnant women.

  2. I don’t think this problem can be solved internally. Germany population is ageing rapidly and they need workers from abroad. I think a solution could be regulated immigration. Germany should accept a regulated number of immigrants to strengthen the economy with the most useful workers – young, healthy, German and English speaking, educated and skilled. It’s demographic future will depend on workers coming from broad.

  3. Today and a few years ago the politics and our environment guide us to a life with less kids as years before. Now, we have to change this, especially because the people are getting older and there are not enough young people.
    But that’s not a reason to fell in panic, because the long-term economic output per head is essential and does not only depend on the size of the population. In the coming decades, there will be a transition period in which the shrinking and aging population society dramaticly changing the labor market.


  4. I totally agree with your post. The society in my home country is getting grey and older. In the year 2011 the birth rate was about 1.36 child per women. How should a country fulfill all workplaces and stay economical competitive in the future? In some years it will be very hard to find skilled workers and even today it already difficult to fill all jobs. At my point of view, the government and companies should start to support young couples to get a baby. Nowadays, women often must choose between career or having a family. So they get pregnant very late, because it is very hard to manage both tasks at the same time. But if they would receive more support, I am sure that there will be more children born. So Germany should start inside its borders to fight against the demographic changes.

  5. It could be said that in Germany the dwindling of the labour force could be a benefit for the economies suffering from currently high unemployment. On the other hand, skilled-labour will become rarer, thus putting the skill-intensive industries of the industrialized economies at a disadvantage. Furthermore, local demand of non-traded goods will decrease due to the decrease of the population. The latter effect reduces the total demand of labour.

    Demographic change will have an effect on both, the supply side and the demand side of labour markets. The supply of labour will be reduced potentially leading to lower unemployment of the low skilled but also creating the risk of scarcities among the high skilled. On the demand side, the shrinkage of the population will create lower demands of locally provided goods and services, thus leading to a contraction of the local labour market.

    – Kelly, Lauren, Becky

  6. The statistics are clear: a shrinking population, the fall of the birth rate and a society that is living longer and longer – Germany faces an almost insoluble problem, but still, changes have to be made. I agree with the previous comments. Germany definitely needs immigrants to fill the “demographic whole”. But I think, also women should be more supported and mobilized. Many women are highly qualified and are willing to work more than before but the current situation of the child care system in Germany is bad: kindergartens and schools are mostly not day-care facilities. The bottom line is that many women only work half-time or stay at home completely. Giving not only women but families in general a better opportunity to combine family and work would also profit the labor market in Germany a fill the gap of skilled workers.


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