Germany has difficulty in satisfying demand for skilled professionals yet young people in the country are losing their interest in training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM professions).
There are numerous STEM initiatives and the German national STEM forum (MINT) gathers together over 30 institutions and associations, such as the German Rectors' Conference, employers' associations, and the chambers of industry and commerce. Many experts point out that the relevant competences to fill the gap exist within an immigrant population.
Employment rates in STEM professions, over the course of the past two to three years, show the sharp increase in employment of foreigners, in particular from India and central and east Europe. This immigration influx has strongly contributed to safeguarding the skilled labour supply.
Thomas Sattelberger, MINT spokesman, believes that, in the near future, Germany will not be able to cope without immigrants from the other countries. He highlights the Syrian refugees in particular, as well as migrants from Romania and Bulgaria, whose good technical and computer science competences are often not fully employed. He believes that Germany should provide vocational education and training (VET) to the young people who come from abroad and, also recognise the qualifications they bring with them.
Federal Education Minister Johanna Wanka thinks that image urgently needs improving, since STEM professions are still often being incorrectly associated with dirt, grime and a high degree of physical labour, especially among parents who can have a big influence on their children’s occupation decisions. According to education researchers, the same is true for people with a migration background, whose parents equate a degree level with increased social recognition, and for women, who frequently continue to choose their profession on the basis of traditional role models.