Embarrassing dispute over DIW study, media thriller and successful crowdsourcing: shortage of skilled workers or not?

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A recent study by DIW speaks for itself Best of HR – Berufebilder.de® has been hotly debated for months: We may not have a shortage of skilled workers! But how could that happen? Conspiracy of Company and media - or just a calculating game and many misunderstandings?

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Here writes for you: Simone Janson is a publisher, German Top20 blogger and HR communication consultant. Profile

Important NOTE

This entry contains content and information that may be out of date, eg due to legal or statistical changes. Because it can still be helpful to get an overview of the topic, you can still find it here.

Censorship or media crime?


Schildbügerstreich? Media Crime? Or large scale wage dumping? The fact is, if the issue of professional defensiveness was not so serious and there were not so many injured victims, the story would be almost funny. Because all, really all, have participated: associations, employment agency and the oh so critical media at the Fachkräfte-Mangel-Chor.

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And now that: In a weekly report of the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) speaks labor market researcher Karl Brenke, of which I by the many discussion contributions on Best of HR – Berufebilder.de® have been convinced for some time (or at least that it can not be as serious as many do ..)

The interview with the well-known US sociologist Richard Sennett was just fitting: in an interview with WN-TV he explained the negative effects short-term contracts have on employees and the productivity of a company and how politics would shape our working world in the future.

Professionals glut?


And certainly not as it is claimed again and again that we have a shortage of skilled workers in Germany, for example, the Association of German Engineers (VDI) or the Federal Employment Agency. On the contrary, Karl Brenke even fears an impending lack of skilled workers for some areas. But how does that fit in with the General Skilled Labor Deficiency Hysteria?

The story came to a head when Spiegel Online reported last Tuesday on a recent DIW study: In a yesterday's weekly report (downloadable free of charge as PDF), Karl Brenke, Scientific Officer on the Board of DIW Berlin, explains why he is currently does not believe in a shortage of skilled workers: "We can not rule out that we will have a shortage of skilled workers in some industries. There are currently only a few areas where there is a shortage of skilled workers. This is most likely the case with the doctors. "

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A media crime


The study should, so it was at Spiegel Online, actually appear on Tuesday. But did not do it. When asked by the press office, I learned that it should be late. Reason: Because Brenke not only contradicts the generally prevailing opinion of the shortage of skilled workers, but also in particular his boss, the DIW President Klaus Zimmermann, the study had to be redone quickly again - or supplemented, as it was said at the press office of the DIW.

New was apparently the statement that Brenke's theses refer only to the coming 3-5 years. Apart from that, the prognosis anyway usually go in the pants, but you take a longer Zukunftsorakelei anyway nobody off - or? "Since a lot has gone wrong" knew in any case, the press lady of the DIW report, in which after the SPON article on Tuesday, the phones were no longer stand still. Presumably Mr. Zimmermann would have preferred to withdraw the study, which did not work anymore. Instead, you could only relativize them a bit.

Do not trust statistics that you did not fake yourself!


And what's in it now? Well, Karl Brenke has eagerly combined all sorts of figures and his theses have been well founded. The possible occupational heat is justified with several statistical values. At the same time, Benke's investigations of the Institute for German Economics are debatable as questionable. And one thing, Brenke also makes clear at the same time: There are so far no scientific procedures that represent the entire labor market and thus could make a definitive statement about the entire economic sector.

For example, there is a lack of current, up-to-date data on the development of wages in individual professions; there are figures only on charges in individual groups of specialists. And the figures for the vacancies as well as for the unemployed contain only the figures of the Federal Agency for Labor - which is not reported there, does not appear in the statistics. And not everything that is reported as a vacancy is really free (eg for changers). All factors that make every statistic quickly imprecise.

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In addition, according to Brenke, university graduates and specialists with in-company training must be differentiated. In the latter case, it could actually come at some point to a shortage - if one does not bring the young people to study what is needed in the labor market. Again such an oracle ...

Why there is no professional defenses!


But what is really so explosive in the study? For example, wages for skilled workers had hardly risen, as would be the case with bottlenecks, and they have not developed better than those of other employees since 2009. The number of students and graduates has been rising since 2007.

The most important factor, however, is that the number of unemployed is higher than the number of vacancies, according to the Federal Agency for Employment and Calculations of DIW. Brenke sees a significant bottleneck only among the vulcanists, electrical installers and physicians.

... they are then times away ...


And the latter stupidly prefer to move to Scandinavia, although the medical education is so expensive: Brenke notes: "Germany subsidizes other countries!"

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By the way, not only: Karen, the whole discussion on Best of HR – Berufebilder.de® and my kindly whiteness still draws my attention to every publication on the topic, has also emigrated to Sweden: "I have not regretted my decision to turn my back on Germany for one minute and would do it again."

Misunderstanding or manipulation?


But where does the discrepancy between the previous tonality and this study come from? Behind the scenes, those affected suspect manipulation by the employers' side, with the aim of squeezing wages through a large selection of well-trained, local, flexible workers and, on the other hand, being able to dispose of older engineers.

That sounds logical, but as long as I lack the evidence, I prefer to go out of general ignorance, misjudgments and statistical inaccuracies on all pages: Finally, the Germans give Company They are also still spending a lot of money to get interested in working for their company on the internet, at career fairs or elsewhere. And they would not do that if they did not need the people - could they?

A rogue who thinks evil


This is how Bernd Schmitz, Head of University Marketing at Bayer AG in Leverkusen, writes Best of HR – Berufebilder.de®: "I can say for Bayer that we are constantly hiring new employees - 2009 alone through 300 academics. A large proportion are graduates with an engineering degree. "However, Schmitz admits:" Personally, I would only speak of a lack if open vacancies can not be filled within a reasonable time. At Bayer, we have been able to fill all available vacancies with new employees. "

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Anyone who wanted to think bad, could now say that, of course, the pure image of various companies - practically advertising. And that the tactic serves to skim off the cream from a large pool of graduates later cheap. But maybe you're just really scared, later down without standing there?

"We are not that desperate!"


What in the discussion in the blog but also became clear: One or the other is inclined to take the word professional deficit literally. Failure to do so does not mean that companies are so desperate that they hire everyone: you can still see whether professional qualifications, specialization and personal factors, such as mobility or teamwork, are right!

Mechanical engineer Marcus, who graduated from 2009 in November and then went on a job search until August, was forced to do so. After 2010 applications and 50 unsuccessful job interviews, he writes: "Mostly, the cancellation was justified by the fact that my qualifications do not quite meet the requirements. Well, I have completed my studies with 4, but I also have a technical education and I completed my practical semester abroad. "

Meanwhile, he emigrated - to Switzerland, where it worked with only two applications. Are German companies too stupid to recognize good people?

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What can I do?


The fact is that many employers, however, prefer to go further than unsuccessful candidates - as Birgitt Dondorff rather scientifically demonstrated in this subject, and how this computer scientist reports, who would rather remain anonymous:

"We are desperately looking for software developers in our company in the Rhine-Main area. But even with us, most applicants are rejected. Applicants must have practical experience in the programming languages ​​and operating systems we use and speak English very well. You should also have knowledge of the stock market environment. We are so under pressure that we can hardly incorporate new people and it is therefore not possible to hire newcomers. However, we definitely stop people about 50. Often there is also a lack of interpersonal communication. Some people we just can not imagine in our teams. If it turns out that a new employee does not bring the service, he will be dismissed without further ado. "



The shortage of skilled workers in Germany could end badly in the long run: more and more new students studying with high expectations on the labor market, but not finding a job and then moving away. Bad investment for the state - also because, for example, money is invested in surplus subjects, while being saved at another point.

So maybe it's time to discuss something different about this topic?

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Note, thanks and update


Although this is a serious topic, I have opted for a semi-ironic view - I hope you understand that.

Anyway, thank you to the well above 100 commentators who have been contributing to this topic for months with their testimonials, comments and links to more information. On monday my article will appear on RP-ONLINE. This is really crowdsourcing!

Update: The comments are of course as always with many more information, links and hints. Just join in the discussion!

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  1. Phimea

    In the search for a recent study, I have come across this study. Very interesting, but also needs still current information. Someone tips for me?

    • Simone Janson

      Hello Phimea,
      this summer there was an ARD report on the topic, I have collected some information and reader feedback with more current material here. What are you looking for exactly?

  2. Regina Haberfellner

    Well, the thing does not seem to be so clear: and -> MINT-skilled workers gap ...

  3. Solveig

    Thanks for tip to the topic angebl. FK deficiency in D RT @Birgit_Dondorff in this blog has, among other things, 1 Ing. Commented @mab__

  4. Birgit Dondorff

    @fissol @mab__ in this blog has comment on1 ing

  5. Simone Janson

    @ b4shot very nice, "do not over skill shortage schwadronieren" (FAZ) - in addition

  6. Simone Janson

    @alekscee @SenseiDesign @enypsilon Sometimes there are really useful comments #crowdsourcing

  7. Simone Janson

    @mauisurfer25 if you ever look for another example of crowdsourcing

  8. Karen


    here are a few links that can help you decide on emigration:



    • Simone Janson

      Hello Karen, thank you for the research and the links. On the topic of working abroad / emigration I would like to do something else!

  9. Simone Janson

    Hello Karen, Dirk, Birgit,
    Birgit certainly has a good start, a new start is certainly difficult. However, I can see from my own experience abroad that a new country with a different mentality brings with it not only linguistic difficulties. However, it is certainly also dependent on the individual case.

    But that would be such a topic about which again a separate article would be worthwhile ..

    @ Damaged: Of course, every company knows how their own staff is. However, as a company, you may not have an overview of what it will look like in the entire labor market or in the coming years.
    Apart from that, I also rather tend to point to the fact that the issue is launched rather on the corporate side rather than the policy side. Since there is no evidence, I do not like to be so contented with conspiracy theories.

    Generally: I'm on the road until Thursday evening and have only sporadically Internet. Therefore, I may ask for some patience with the answers.
    Thank you.

  10. damaged

    @Simone, why would not that be the intention of companies and "HR agencies"? Should we now assume that companies are acting so unprofessionally that they do not know how their staffing levels are? Why are Bosch, Daimler & Co. pushing their engineers into non-tariff-bound and much lower-paid "engineering groups"?
    Let's suppose that the engineers are bustling companies today (100's top contenders on 1 free, "airy" spot), so the poor bidders will have to go through the DILESTIC hiring tests, but employers are so naive to think they could be 50 years planning into the future?
    How do the 34000 sites come into the industry every year, which are included in the engineering bill, even though the industry is still losing ~ 2% of jobs every year? Does not this sound like a false message from the companies?

    By the way: before 2 years, I accompanied 3 engineers on their way to 1x Norway and 2x Switzerland. At that time: low 1stellige application number, almost always a job interview. An 0815 electrical engineer career starter, written off in Germany by the ARGE wrote 5 applications to Switzerland and landed 5 hits, he was then set in his chosen job directly without multiple "round" as usual in perverted Germany. The biggest hurdle - the Swiss bureaucracy - took over the company. He was hired faster than Bosch responded to an interesting application with the first round of introductions. And his job is also with a large corporation!

    Germany does not need any engineers, so I have resigned myself. I would only find it fair if you got the chance to change your job AND NOT lure students into ruin.

  11. Birgit Dondorff


    Surely there are risks! But, is not it nationally? (Apart from any linguistic matters - except, if I orient myself to A, CH possibly NL)

    The job orientation of, for example, Eg NRW to Berlin or Munich: building the social environment; Over the trial period or even first search!

    Greeting Birgit Dondorff

  12. Dirk Steffes

    @ Karen
    "It's just that everyone who leaves Germany has a job in the country of emigration. You can only leave Germany if you have a job in the new country. Anything else would be an incalculable risk. "

    I can not confirm that. You often only get the job if you already live in the respective country - despite internet, maybe. First of all, you have to acquire some language skills and find out where there are suitable and sufficiently paid jobs. A job application from a distance only has a chance of success under certain conditions (actual shortage of skilled workers, sole feature of the job seeker - eg German language). Or you are content with a simple job to make ends meet and search in parallel.

    I would like to point out that many people cancel their stay abroad after a few months or one or two years. At the beginning, you are very euphoric about everything and happy to finally get out of the "bad" Germany. However, this sentiment can be reversed relatively quickly, especially if one does not have a supportive environment in the new country (eg a resident partner) and / or gets into financial difficulties.

  13. Simone Janson

    @Karen: Thanks for the link. Habs not yet managed with the listen, but will not be forgotten.
    @Birgit: I have to think about that first. In the first moment I found this somewhat absurd, also because the lack of skilled workers comes from employers' associations. Perhaps, however, is also the thesis expressed in this blog, that would come from the corporate side (eg to push the wages) exactly as far?
    And maybe this simply shows that we do not get along with conspiracy theories of whatever kind, because it is simply a grandiose ignorance of the actual situation with all involved?
    One can only remember this: there is no perfect statistical method which can verify or falsify the professional defendant.
    Simone Janson

  14. Karen


    I had this morning, the link to a broadcast in the SWR, which was sent today from 08: 15, from a former Studienkollegen get. I could not see the show live in Sweden. But also the link was very interesting. It shows the appreciation that companies bring to their employees. I could also find this myself in my work in Germany as a H4-Aufstockerin. Compared to my experience (very short) in Sweden, however, I can notice a serious difference. I am not treated as a disposition, but as a person. Sweden is not the paradise either. Performance is required just as in Germany, but I am treated as a human being. One can not generalize this, there are certainly other examples in Sweden and in Germany. I can only speak of my experience.

    Here is the link (SWR, WDR, title: Profit at any price market without morals):



  15. Birgit Dondorff

    On question 2 I found support through Karen (explanation)

    On question 1 I do not want to express myself in detail, when I say,
    it is a political interest. I think there is only
    limits in the directions described by you!

    Greetings and thank you for your understanding,

    Birgit Dondorff

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  17. Simone Janson

    Ms Dondorff, my question has not yet been answered - or am I just misunderstanding you?

  18. Birgit Dondorff

    @Karen: Thanks, exactly as I would have explained it (including Munich! :-)

    Greeting Birgit

  19. Karen

    The cost of living is certainly higher. But there is still a lot more to be had in relation to Germany. Of course you can not live in the city center of Stockholm, but outside. But in comparison, you can not live in the center of Munich. The security of permanent employment and a good working environment are also to be underestimated.




    Embarrassing dispute over DIW study, media crimes and successful ...: A recent study by DIW spr ... #Crowdsourcing

  21. Simone Janson

    @Karen: Thanks for the description of the almost paradisisch sounding conditions in Scandinavia .. except perhaps from the somewhat unfair acting application process ...

    @ Birgit Dondorff: I've read it several times now, but the context unfortunately not understood ...
    Of course that would be nicer for everyone if the salaries were high ...
    But they are not, because we obviously do not have a shortage of skilled workers. Conversely, salaries would rise automatically because the policy calls for skills shortages, but rather because the company does not find anyone ... Or do you think that this is a failed attempt by politicians to just launch it?

    By the way: That the salaries in Scandinavia are higher, I think in light of the higher cost of living & taxes (or am I wrong?) For gerchtfert ....

  22. Birgit Dondorff

    Hello in the round,

    on the one hand, I suspect a purely political interest.

    As small. Explanation: Our specialists (specialists and academics) are particularly popular in the Scandinavian area, as well as NL, Denmark and Switzerland, etc.:
    a) Quality of education
    b) Price - ie salary requirement

    But the normal local ones are much more settled than one is willing to pay.
    In the end, of course, Germany would be unable to recruit from these countries due to their salary.

    Greeting Birgit

  23. Karen

    It is also a different think. Employees are viewed abroad as human capital and not as a cost factor, which is immediately reduced in the event of a profit collapse. The companies invest in the employees and receive, in return, commitment, performance and loyalty. The teams are mixed between the ages. a sliding know-how transfer takes place. With the older engineers, the know-how remains as company capital and is not sent to the early retirement. With the prospect of an employment that does not lead to unemployment with completion of the 50th year of life, one can plan the future.

    On the subject of professional strengths: in the Handelsblatt article yesterday and today, that Bayer, Merck and Roche several thousand coworkers were dismissed.



  24. Karen


    not everyone who applies abroad will get a job immediately. It is only that everyone who leaves Deuztschland has a place in the country of emigration. You can only leave Germany if you have a job in the new country. Everything else would be an incalculable risk. However, it is still the case that a job abroad is still being given, as the companies, especially in Scandinavia, are investing in training and further education and thus also giving graduates a chance.

    The problem, however, is to get knowledge of a job. Many vacancies are not advertised in Scandinavia, but filled on recommendations. That was also the case for me. A former fellow student had passed my application in-house and recommended me. So it came to the job interview for an application. Many who apply directly, also get a rejection. This also applies to Norway and Sweden. There is also no shortage of skilled workers in Scandinavia. Although German training is a welcome plus, a recommendation from an in-house employee opens the door to a job interview. But the technical and human requirements must fit, otherwise there is a rejection.



  25. Karen


    the two articles in Spiegel-Online have been noticed with great interest among the engineers of German origin. I have also asked two former study colleagues from Norway (Oslo and Stavanger) how the response among the German-born engineers is on the articles?

    It is a bit surprising that the first publication, which seems very well founded, is turned unfounded in the second article by the leadership of DIW unfavored.

    The tenor that Germany will suffer from a strong shortage of skilled workers due to the uncertainty of skilled workers in Germany prevails not only among emigrant German engineers. The Swedish colleagues also expect increasing numbers of people leaving Germany. It is a pity that one does not try to keep the German skilled workers in their own country, but only relies on immigration to Germany, whose insertion is very questionable.

    Greetings from the cold Stockholm at 0 degrees and expected snowfall


    • Simone Janson

      Hello Karen and all other interested
      nice, that you even in the cold north still busy with the topic (here it is only slightly warmer and raining ... therefore):
      Please read carefully: The study, which you can download here by the way for free, was not turned into the opposite - this is also too long (and highly recommended)!

      ME has expressed the mirror online just a little boldly ... rather, only one passage has been added, according to which the forecast period is shorter (right at the beginning and headline). In addition, here and there in the study are some relativistic sentences that may have been added later, but may have been there before. The DIW speaks only of additions, exactly I can not reconstruct that, as one would have to compare with the Voversion, which SPON had.

      However, the basic assumption that there is no specialist deficit is still demonstrated by the study.

      Here are some responses from DAX companies

      This also corresponds to what I have heard of staff in recent days and what they really believe. So did me Birgit Dondorff a more scientific concept of explanation from a personal perspective.

      Interesting I found this comment on Tagesschau.de, which also seems to confirm many reproaches expressed in the thread, which of course is again only an opinion:

      And Eva Zil, also Personalerin (www.online-recruiting.net) means on my Facebook page:

      Often the hype is also driven by service providers from the HR industry. Even if I belong to this industry myself, I reluctant to use the shortage of skilled workers as a selling point. In the meantime, that is simply exhausted .... [Quote-end]

      I think the truth has something from all aspects.

      But if we do not have a shortage of skilled workers, it is obvious to me why people are allowed to migrate: short-term thinking. Rather, I'm surprised that abroad, as you Karen (and there are other examples), so quickly find a job (with only one application). Because there is a desperate search? Or because you think longer term?

      Would be an interesting aspect also for the study, which Monika commissioned and whose questions I link here again!

      I'm looking forward to more posts!
      Simone Janson

  26. Simone Janson

    Hello Birgit,
    Thank you for your contribution. With the opinion you are not alone, as the two discussion heads show.
    Simone Janson

  27. Birgit

    Since 2009 I am in the orientation. However, I am not registered with the employment office as such, but I finance myself in the meantime.
    Despite very good qualification profile m. according to practice, one had so far the agony of choice ...

    I suspect a purely political interest behind it ...

  28. Martin Salwiczek

    Tweetcount Widget

  29. Simone Janson

    Shortage of skilled workers or not? Discussion about the DIW study - facts, statements, figures, opinions at a glance:

  30. Simone Janson

    Freshly blogged: Embarrassing about DIW study, media crimes and successful crowdsourcing ...

  31. Competencepartner

    Embarrassing dispute over DIW study, media thriller and successful crowdsourcing: shortage of skilled workers or ...

  32. Simone Janson

    Has not happened for a long time, that I needed the whole day for 1 Post-but was worth it # Skills shortage

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