{Replica} Discussion on the shortage of skilled workers in Germany: does it exist? A hearty “yes and no”!


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The topic Skills shortagethat too on the past year Best of HR – Berufebilder.de® has been hotly debated is always the subject of violent polemics. So it was all the more surprising for me to have a differentiated panel discussion on the topic, which answered the question “lack of skilled workers or not” with a decided “yes and no”. Brightening results.Antje Rabenalt


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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisher, German Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.

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Fuore cares for the time Professor Dr. Gerd Bosbach from the Rhein-Ahr-Campus in Remagen with his book “Lies with Numbers: How We Are Manipulated with Statistics”, in which he takes the statistical lies of our society into focus. The figures circulating in the media such as the 6,5 million shortage of skilled workers by 2025 are coffee grounds reading.

What are professionals?

I had expected a correspondingly polemical discussion at the panel discussion “The fairy tale about the shortage of skilled workers?” on the occasion of the specialist personnel recruitment conference of the future in the past week in Berlin. And then I was pleasantly surprised.

So Bosbach pleaded for, just to differentiate what actually understood by professionals: This is namely a very elastic term whose definition somewhere between doctor and bakery saleswoman commutes and therefore each defines as it fits him in the junk.

Skills shortage discussion

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Is there a shortage of skilled labor in Germany? It discussed (from left to right) Dr. Karl Brenke from the DIW, Malte Hansen from the Bund der Personalmanager, Antje Rabenalt from Zukunft im Zentrum and Professor Dr. Gerd Bosbach from the Rhein-Ahr-Campus.

Do not trust statistics ...

At all, one should always distinguish between absolute and relative numbers and, in the case of statistics, prefer to find what is meaningful and what is not. And do not rely on the interpretations of others!

Exactly this results in the misunderstanding of a general shortage of skilled workers. However, according to Bosbach, it certainly exists in some less attractive industries and regions. Specialists in wastewater just want to be the least.

What exactly are you looking for?

There would have to, suggested Professor before that Company then specify exactly who or what they are looking for. And then just lure with very good conditions such as permanent contracts or targeted training measures - so far break the training company not exactly because of excessive demand together.

And also be open to, for example, secondary school pupils, who have to be prepared for the job in corresponding further education measures, even in individual care. That was, as Bosbach knew from his own experience with further training measures, very successful.

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Especially the small ones are affected

And small companies, which could not support the technological change, would only have a chance to find reasonable candidates at all.

That was the crux that could be agreed in the discussion: That especially smaller and very specialized companies are affected by a shortage of skilled workers - and moderator Antje Rabenalt had at the same time a whole series of examples of dedicated entrepreneurs ready, despite high personal Can not afford suitable employees - and who simply do not have the money to hire someone to do the HR work.

Why are engineers rejected?

But she also had the counterexample of an engineer who had been doing all sorts of jobs for 15 for years, just not working in his job - and who had, over time, gotten a variety of cancellations:

Overqualified, under-qualified, too old, too little professional experience. He could not be present himself: he had just finally found a job.

Companies are too spoiled

The real provocateur this evening was Dr. Karl Brenke from DIW, who had caused a stir last year with his study of the shortage of skilled workers. And Brenke saw the dilemma of smaller companies, especially in the insufficient human resources work or in human weaknesses of the snoring owners - a statement that caused fierce criticism in the audience.

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Moreover, over the last 20 years, companies have been simply spoiled by the labor market, which allowed them to find only people who matched 150%. Maybe, according to Brenke, companies would just have to get used to the fact that it only fits 90 or 80 percent and then they just have to qualify.

Bosbach shortage of skilled workers

Personnel need to become more flexible!

Personnel would have to be more flexible. In general, rigid thinking is the problem in Germany: in other countries, companies react much more flexibly to a situation despite higher levels of employment. Therefore it is no wonder that many skilled workers migrated to Scandinavia or to Switzerland.

In addition, there are already many foreign specialists in Germany, but their degrees are not recognized and therefore work in unskilled jobs. Here, too, companies should become more open-minded.

Temporary work instead of further education

Another problem for Brenke: This is also under highly qualified spreading temporary work. Companies that want to get cheap labor in this way therefore do not give any further training.

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Malte Hansen of the Personnel Managers (BPM) had little to compare. From the point of view of his association, he has already noted a shortage in some regions and professions. But he really could not refute the presented arguments. The picture was differentiated.

The company's view

He dismissed the allegation that the companies were too comfortable: companies would never be used to finding 150% suitable employees - at most 110%. Hansen also spoke out against open-ended contracts: it had to be possible for the company to get to know its employees for two years.

And Hansen also expressed himself against the opening up of companies to unqualified forces - it could not be the goal to make the training even worse. Companies, he reiterated, also sought engineers. Nevertheless, nobody from the Association of German Engineers wanted to take part in the discussion.

Money or time

After all, it was also clear to Hansen that companies had to move. Ultimately, the companies had two options: On the one hand, to spend a lot of money in order to get the right skilled workers. There would also be problems such as regionality and mobility. “The specific challenges depend on the company, location and person.”

Or invest in the respective employees, but pay less. One way that he could go to small companies, because the big ones, Hansen said, were not necessarily the best work.

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Do you only hit the magic word

The all-encompassing question of whether the shortage of skilled workers was a fairy tale or not could only be answered with a brave yes and no. Ultimately, it is a matter of a differentiated view of the respective industry, region, situation and location. If magic words and reality meet, the message is "look closely, it all depends."


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  1. Myong Parsells

    Time is getting tighter and better in today's hectic daily work routine. Here your page really helps with a lot of information.

  2. May

    As a medium-sized magazine reports: “One in four companies cannot fill vacancies for two months or more due to a lack of suitable workers. Employer attractiveness and work-life balance are becoming increasingly important. ” Employers should offer more. Source: http://www.marktundmittelstand.de/nachrichten/strategie-personal/fachkraeftemangel-keine-entwarnung-fuer-2014/

    • Simone Janson

      Thanks for the note, I'll look at me. For an ARD broadcast on the subject, incidentally, interview partners, ie ingnieurs, are sought, who can say or want to say something on the subject.

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  7. Silke Loers

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  8. Sylvana Pollehn

    In this article I find the most diverse aspects:
    Dr. Karl Brenke sees »the dilemma of smaller companies above all in the inadequate personnel work or in human weaknesses of the snoring owners«. Let's face it. Do you only know entrepreneurs where the opposite is true? Although I see no difference between small and large companies - there are always such and such.
    He continued to speak of spoiled companies that had been easy on the labor market of recent years and found employees who were 150 percent in the picture. Read times. What are the companies looking for: completed studies, professional experience, excellent English skills, project experience, above-average commitment, competences, competences, competences. Sure, the companies want it, because it saves time and money. I think, however, that a rethinking must take place in the longer term. We will also go new ways in the personnel selection.
    I also find that the education and training of primary school leavers is a step in the right direction. Because these are often people who were particularly hard, because of the social environment or other reasons that I do not want to discuss now. Of course they cost time and money, but they will thank the companies and be loyal and willing employees (if we do it right). I know, of course, that there are some limits with regard to the use ...
    To take permanent contracts of employment as an attractant, but I feel unprofessional. After all, it is indispensable to get to know people first and we probably all know from experience that two years are not always enough. Conclusion: Personnel must face the new conditions of the labor market, allow unused opportunities in the mind and then actively implement them. In this way, the companies ultimately and top-notch act responsibly. Because now everyone gets their chance and can no longer speak of professional defenses.

    • Robert Stolarczyk

      Hi all,

      I see temporary contracts a little more differentiated. I find it somewhat critical to sell contracts with a term of two years or even more with the title of an “extended trial period”. There are certainly many project-related positions that make it difficult to advertise a position indefinitely, although here too more flexibility is desired from employers. But I'm not talking / writing about these cases now.

      When we talk about better working for employees - both before and after the conclusion of the employment contract - I am also of the opinion that I should deal with the employees; and already in the first half year. Half a year is not two years and I know employees after two years much better than only after half a year. But sometimes the other way around: if I as an employer or as a superior after six months not able to say whether I would like to employ the employee for an indefinite period, I will presumably also after two years to none safer statement. Anyone who really works for the employees right from the start knows enough about them after six months.

      • Simone Janson

        Hello Mr. Stolarczyk,
        thank you for the detailed comment. I am entirely of your opinion, only gave the quote again. I also wonder why a company needs to get to know an applicant for two years. I think 6 months should be quite sufficient for this. The statement I found therefore also quite unhappy.

  9. Simone Janson

    Hello Sylvana,
    Thank you for the detailed and differentiated commentary - especially on the aspects of Hauptschulabschluss and fixed-term employment contracts!
    Simone Janson

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    Discussion about the shortage of skilled workers in Germany: Does it exist? A hearted "yes"! »Simone Janson» via @SimoneJanson

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