Foreign engineers are attracted to the larger Munich area, but they are extremely rare in places like Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. This is supported by a report that the German Economic Institute (IW) and the Association of German Engineers (VDI) released on Tuesday. Germany desperately needs more engineers, thus immigrants from other nations are meant to help. But there are notable differences between regions. 10,590 foreign nationals work as engineers in the city of Munich alone, which is “more than in Hesse and almost twice as many as in Lower Saxony,” according to IW researcher Axel Plünnecke
Moreover one-fourth of engineers who were born abroad work in Starnberg, the neighbourhood with the largest proportion of foreigners. Next is the Main-Taunus neighbourhood, followed by the Munich neighbourhood. The city of Munich and its northernmost district, Pfaffenhofen, are both ranked in the top 10. The majority of foreign engineers reside in Bavaria, the non-city state with the highest percentage. In comparison to the next-to-last states, Saxony-Anhalt and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, this percentage, at almost 13 percent, is three times greater.
However, local businesses would find it difficult to fill vacancies without additional foreign engineers, and the economy would stagnate. Without a significant influx of foreign qualified employees, according to Dieter Westerkamp, the responsible department head at the professional association VDI, “we will no longer be able to close the gap in the job market for engineers.” And the gap has gotten even bigger. According to the VDI, there are over 170,000 available posts in engineering and computer science, which is a fifth more than the previous year. It’s missing everywhere, and things are precarious, warns Westerkamp. This can have very significant consequences, such as preventing businesses or government organisations from starting digitization or construction projects due to a lack of competent labourers.
The considerable variances in the proportion of foreign engineers are primarily the fault of the colleges and businesses located there. If there are technical universities in the area with a substantial international student population, the percentage of engineers in the area with foreign passports will rise. The factories of multinational firms have a similar effect. In the Oder-Spree district of Brandenburg, the proportion of foreign engineers remained between two and three percent for a very long time. But thanks to the Tesla factory, by the end of 2020, the value had tripled in just a few short months.
The VDI is currently pushing for more engineering hiring in Germany. Recent federal legislation aimed at facilitating skilled worker immigration was introduced. The professional association applauds this but asks that processes be accelerated concurrently in the consular and immigration offices. According to Westerkamp, the lengthy wait periods for visa appointments that some immigrants must experience at the German embassy are the result of a personnel deficit in the immigration offices.
The Bertelsmann Foundation’s skilled labour migration monitor research also points to legal problems. As part of the study, companies were asked about their experiences hiring foreign skilled labour. As a result, managers are allegedly growing increasingly disgruntled with the recognition, legal, and administrative difficulties they encounter. Regardless, the report asserts that only one in six of the companies questioned attempt to close the skills gap by hiring overseas labour. As a result, the majority of managers look for various strategies to help themselves.
But the reason that there is a scarcity of engineers and computer scientists that cannot be filled without immigration is due to two recent events. One the one hand, demand is growing due to factors like digitization or the conversion of production to eco-friendly technologies. In contrast, as society ages and more engineers retire, there are also fewer first-year students in Germany. 143,000 young persons started their studies in maths or the natural and engineering sciences in 2016, while just 126,000 did so in 2022.
Germans must understand that immigration is very probably required to maintain their current standard of living, according to VDI delegate Westerkamp. Therefore, locals should make high-demand immigrants feel welcome. We need a culture that welcomes skilled employees (FWK),” asserts Westerkamp, even coining a quirky acronym for it. ”
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