The German government successively implements various measures to make it easier for professionals from abroad to access the German labour market.
Germany is a desirable place for investment in Europe. According to international investors, this is predominantly due to the vocational education and training (VET) system, in addition to its infrastructure. VET constitutes the basis for supplying the German industry with highly qualified skilled personnel.
However, due to demographic changes, sufficient supply of skilled labour cannot be ensured in the future. As a high technology location, Germany's innovation capacity depends on sustained supply of skilled labour. To this end, government authorities in cooperation with industry associations and enterprises have introduced a comprehensive programme of measures.
In 2011, the government adopted its strategy to safeguard skilled labour supply (Konzept Fachkräftesicherung) which makes access to the German labour market easier for qualified people from abroad.
Introduction of the EU blue card as part of implementing the EU's Council Directive 2009/50/EC is to ease entry and residence of third-country nationals for highly-qualified employment. For occupational fields not requiring an academic degree, the new employment regulation, which came into force in July 2013, applies.
In its semi-annual skilled labour shortage analysis, the German Federal Employment Agency identifies those occupational groups where demand for skilled labour is currently not met by sufficient supply. These shortage occupations are included in a so-called positive list. If their occupation is on this list and their occupational qualification is equal to the necessary educational attainment in Germany, people from outside the EU are granted free access to the German labour market. At present, the list includes occupations in geriatric and nursing care, sanitary engineering, mechatronics and electrical engineering, to name some examples.
In addition, the federal recognition act for assessment of foreign professional qualifications of 2012, significantly simplified and rendered evaluation and recognition of foreign qualifications more flexible. Overall, the German immigration procedure is seen as one of the least bureaucratic and most efficient worldwide by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
With respect to high unemployment rates in some European countries, increased use of the European employment agencies network (EURES) makes it possible for young people and unemployed skilled people to find jobs in Germany to help fill vacancies there and make better use of the European labour market as a whole.