Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Shortage of skilled workers: how to score points in tug of war for skilled workers

FGovernments around the world are already trying desperately to attract skilled workers to their countries. The lack of well-trained and experienced workforce across the globe leads to a reduction in productivity. It also threatens to trigger a downward spiral in investments. Berlin is operating flat on the bureaucratic’s low access to trained foreigners. On the other side of the world, in Australia, the immigrant country, there is a rapid search for solutions. And the thriving city-state Singapore is on the move to attract the best of the very best to the island.


Christopher Heino

Business Correspondent for South Asia/Pacific based in Singapore.

The current Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, had already promised a “summit for full employment” during his time in opposition – but this has been achieved given the unemployment rate of 3.4 percent. The price is the lowest level in 48 years. That is why a summit is now being held to gather ideas for restructuring the Australian labor market. 142 representatives of Australian society, politicians, trade unionists, company bosses and representatives of government-elected associations are meeting in Canberra as of today, Friday.

In Australia, 67 percent of people of working age are employed or looking for a job – a record. However, 53 per cent of the companies say that they cannot fill all the positions. This means that there are approximately 430,000 job vacancies in Australia.

Immigration to combat the skills shortage

Managers and unions are now pushing to increase the annual immigration rate from 160,000 to 200,000. But even that would hardly help in the short term: 600,000 guest workers with temporary visas had left Australia during the pandemic. There are several hurdles to overcome: traditionally strong trade unionists are giving their nod to demands that the minimum wage for fixed-term contract guest workers be nearly doubled from AUD 53,900 to an astronomical AUD 92,000 (EUR 62,931).

Employers agree to raise up to $60,000. Also, trade unionists want companies to be obliged to continue training a local worker for each trained guest worker. Before more immigrants are allowed into the country, there must also be wage increases for all to make employment more attractive.

Albanians themselves want permanent immigration rather than a high quota of temporary guest workers. At least the government now wants to extend visas for foreign university graduates in Australia by two to four years – raising the chances that they will be forever tied to the fifth continent. As in Germany, the issuance of visas in Australia is currently demanding: about a million applications are blocked by the authorities’ files. 60,000 applications come from foreign professionals.

Germany must learn a lesson

In Germany too, the acceleration of processes is overdue: Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil and Interior Minister Nancy Fesser (both SPD) have already outlined that skilled workers will soon be able to enter the country and work, regardless of their professionalism. Have qualifications not yet recognized in Germany, but have professional experience and have an employment contract.

Because baby boomers are about to retire soon, the German economy is likely to have a worse workforce. Here, too, immigration remains: “The big lever is migration,” says Herbert Bruker, researcher at the Institute for Labor Market and Occupational Research (IAB), which deals with the Federal Employment Agency. Without any immigration, the potential of the labor force in Germany will decline sharply by 2060, even though women and older people work significantly more.

With a net immigration of about 400,000 people per year, however, it would be possible to keep the number stable. The Institute considers a net immigration of about 100,000 people a year to be realistic in the long term. For comparison: Australia is planning twice as large, although it has just under 26 million people, while 83 million live in Germany.

workers are there

Like the vast continent of Australia, tiny Singapore is also struggling with its immigration restructuring: due to its extremely restrictive visa policy, including skilled workers, the wealthy little state has lost much of its prestige among foreign investors in recent years. – German companies also vehemently complained that they had been made more difficult to bring experts from Germany to the island.

In the future, Singapore wants to issue five-year visas to foreign top officials if they earn more than 30,000 Singapore dollars (21,411 euros) a month. Their colleagues should also be given the right to seek employment. Among other things, this should allow foreign investors to pay more to their best expatriates. Exceptional candidates in sports, arts, science and teaching should also be allowed to enter the country for a limited period under a special scheme.

Theoretically, there are enough potential employees available around the world. Example India: There, 955,000 people applied for 3,000 temporary jobs in the Navy. India is not able to accommodate its one million school children every month.

One contributing factor is that although foreign investment of about $21 billion in the last fiscal year was enormous, the factories are highly automated. German companies report that they will have to train Indian university graduates for about two years after their engineering studies, until their skills match those of an engineer trained in Germany.

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