Technology firm Continental is calling for a concept for the controlled immigration of foreign workers. The German company sees this as an important means of effectively addressing the skills shortage in Germany.
“The impact of demographic change, decarbonisation and digitalisation is huge and can only be roughly anticipated,” says Dr. Ariane Reinhart, Executive Board member for Human Relations and Sustainability at Continental. It is already becoming apparent in many industries today that the economy is unable to provide sufficient qualified skilled workers.
“The imbalance on the labour market is not only endangering the general standard of living in Germany. Our social systems are also threatening to collapse!” says Reinhart.
This year alone, Continental needs around 2,500 skilled workers in Germany. Qualified personnel are particularly lacking in the areas of software, IT and logistics. “The financing of our social state is reliant on a robust and growing economy. And to achieve this, we need sufficient available and qualified workers.
Greater mobilisation of existing personnel resources and increasing the training and further qualification of employees alone will not be enough to cover our needs for skilled workers. “There is no alternative: Germany is in urgent need of controlled immigration. The decisive factor here is that immigrants must become available on the domestic labour market more quickly than in the past and, above all, with little red tape,” demands Reinhart. “We need a legislative framework to ensure this. It currently takes far to long for foreign apprenticeships to be recognised in Germany. But we are also losing valuable time when it comes to the search for accommodation and childcare.”
Reinhart is calling upon policymakers, jointly with companies, the German Federal Employment Agency and educational institutions, to develop a concept for adapting immigrants’ qualifications to local requirements. “As a company, we cannot expect, within the context of economic migration, to recruit sufficient qualified people to entirely resolve the shortage of skilled workers,” says Reinhart. “This means that we will need to retrain and upgrade the skills of many immigrants.”
In this regard, the Continental Executive Board member expressly warns against focusing exclusively on immigrants when it comes to qualifications.
Only together with the qualification of German personnel resources can the transformation and the resulting changes in the labour market be absorbed: “We need to mobilise the entire labour force and qualify them for the domestic requirements in Germany – not only our own employees, but also, for example, people without formal qualifications or the long-term unemployed. If we do this, we will have a real market for worker opportunities in Germany,” says Reinhart.
For this purpose, Continental established its own further training institute, the Continental Institute for Technology and Transformation (CITT), back in 2019. By the end of 2021, more than 3,500 participants had obtained qualifications for other activities here. By the end of 2022, they will number 8,500.