Reform of immigration rules could solve problem of skills shortage

The German Association of Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media (BITKOM) thinks that Germany needs highly qualified immigrants due to a skills shortage. According to current estimates by BITKOM there are between 25.000 and 28.000 job vacancies in the IT sector. Furthermore, other sectors ranging from mechanical engineering to trade and financial institutions look for more than 10.000 additional IT specialists.

According to BITKOM, the German high-tech industry is open for experts from all over the world. Politicians just had to remove the obstacles to highly qualified immigrants. A reform of immigration laws should halve the minimum salary required for being granted permanted residence permit and to improve work opportunities for foreign students, if these graduate from German universities. According to BITKOM, the reform must concentrate on the introduction of criteria controlling immigration according to qualification, language skills and age.

The reason for skills shortage is a boom in the software and IT service provider industry which has a market volume of about 50 billion Euros in Germany. While the market for telecommunications (fixed line network, mobile phone network etc.) suffers from strong competition, the business of information technology (software, IT service providers, computer hardware etc) benefits from the current economic revival. Particularly sought-after are software developers, IT project managers and IT consultants.

However, IT specialists are currently hardly available on the labour market. The number of jobless IT specialists has halved to currently 30.000 people since the beginning of 2005. Only in the boom year 2000 the number of unemployed IT experts had been at the same low level.

According to BITKOM, the lack of specialists will even increase over the next years. The number of first-year students of informatics had decreased by one quarter since 2000 to just 28.000 people in the year 2006. Only about half of these will finally graduate. Therefore, the goverment has to carry out reforms in the educational system and companies have to invest more in vocational training and further education in order to solve the problem of skills shortage. GERMAN