OECD-Survey: Labour Migration rarely used by German employers


Paris/Berlin – 9th of December, 2011


One third of the German employers who had job openings to fill by summer 2011 could not find suitable candidates for some or all of these vacancies. 40% expect the number of vacancies to grow over the next five years. Current labour needs are particularly pronounced at the medium-skilled level. These are among the main findings from a survey among German employers that the OECD has conducted jointly with the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) which was presented and discussed at a seminar in the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs in Berlin this morning.

88 % of all surveyed employers stated that they had job vacancies between July 2010 and July 2011, out of which 37 % did not succeed to fill all of these jobs. Out of these, one in four tried to hire workers from abroad, but only about half succeeded. In particular large enterprises with 500 and more employees hired workers from abroad. In most cases, these foreign workers came from the European Union or the European Free Trade Area, but about half of the employers did also or exclusively recruit staff from third countries.


Almost half of the employers with unfilled vacancies stated that they did not even consider this option. They explained this often by saying that they lack knowledge about the administrative procedure. Small and medium-sized enterprises perceived this obstacle more strongly than large employers. Furthermore, employers frequently stated to have been discouraged by the complexity of the procedure. Finally, many employers expected prospective labour migrants to lack German language skills.


About half of all employers (46%) would favour a facilitation of recruitment from abroad, but one in five is opposed to this. When asked about measures that should be taken in this respect, employers are particularly in favour of accelerating and facilitating the administrative procedure, assistance with establishing contact with candidates abroad, support with the administrative procedure and the provision of language training after arrival. The proposed measure which employers ranked lowest was the introduction of a pathway for migration without a concrete job offer.


On the whole, the findings suggest that the possibility to recruit from abroad is rarely used by employers in Germany and that they do not plan to change their recruitment patterns in spite of expected growing labour needs. Although increasing numbers of vacancies are expected over the whole skills range, employers nevertheless state that the qualification level should serve as a key criterion in the selection of labour migrants. Finally, employers appear to attach more importance to administrative and procedural facilitations than to fundamental reform.


The survey is part of a comprehensive review of the management of labour migration in Germany, commissioned by the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social affairs (BMAS), that the OECD will complete next year. The survey, in which more than 1100 companies participated, assesses employers’ views regarding labour shortages and the role that labour migration can play in this context. Similar surveys are conducted in other OECD countries.

For further information, please contact:
Thomas Liebig
International Migration Division
Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs
Tel. +33-1-45 24 90 68