Skills shortage brakes digitization, climate protection and e-mobility

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Skills shortage brakes digitization, climate protection and e-mobility-shortage

More than half of the companies can currently do not occupy open places at least temporarily – noticeably more than anyway before the outbreak of the Corona crisis. Lockdowns and short-time work have only temporarily crowded the shortage of skilled workers. The expertise of the German Chamber of Commerce and Chamber (DIHK) describes the current situation, concrete consequences and high challenges.

“The shortage of skilled workers in companies is back: faster and to a greater extent than many expected”: This is how the deputy DIHK general manager Achim Dercks summarizes the results of the DIHK report skilled workers 2021 (linked as a detailed PDF). “We have peaked in terms of workforce. In the coming years, it will be an increasingly difficult business for companies to fight against the shortage of skilled workers. In addition to the energy transition, companies are now faced with the challenge of a ‘skilled worker transition’.”

The report is based on the responses of around 23.000 companies. 51 percent of them cannot fill vacancies, at least in part, because they cannot find suitable workers – “even though the crisis and the economic difficulties are not over in many companies and the economic upswing is weakening,” Dercks points out. This not only means an immense increase compared to autumn 2020 – at that time only 32 percent of the companies had reported shortages of skilled workers – but also an increase compared to the situation before the Corona crisis: in autumn 2019 “only” 47 percent of the companies had difficulties with the Acquisition of new employees.

In addition to the shortages of raw materials and preliminary products and supply chain problems, bottlenecks in skilled workers are becoming more and more common. An additional challenge for the implementation of central future social tasks such as digitization, climate change or e-mobility. Dercks: “When in doubt, it is not (only) the money that is missing, but also the people. And since this shortage of skilled workers naturally also affects public administration, it makes life even more difficult for companies due to longer approval processes.”

Biggest bottlenecks in construction, steepest increase in industry

In view of the need for investment in the public transport and communication infrastructure, it is problematic that the largest gaps in qualified personnel are reported by the construction industry at 66 percent of the companies. The sharpest increase in filling vacancies compared to the previous year is among industrial companies, now at 53 percent after 29 percent in autumn 2020. The particularly high proportion of 57 percent among capital goods producers such as mechanical engineering gives reason to fear that this will further exacerbate the investment backlog in Germany.

Especially and increasingly in demand: professionally qualified people

According to Dercks, a “serious business risk for many companies” is the training situation: around eight percent fewer people looking for a training place are registered with the Federal Employment Agency than in the previous year. The number of training contracts in the IHK professions has increased slightly this year compared to the previous year. But currently 57 percent of the companies that cannot fill vacancies are unsuccessfully looking for employees who have completed dual vocational training. In autumn 2018, 49 percent of those surveyed reported bottlenecks in this area.

There is also a demand for graduates of further training courses such as master craftsman or business administrator – 36 percent of the companies with vacancy problems report an unsuccessful search. There are bottlenecks in the case of university graduates, especially in the MINT professions.

How companies counteract it

53 percent of the companies are reacting to the shortage of skilled workers with activities aimed at making them more attractive as employers, 46 percent want to intensify their own training in order to secure the skilled labor base in the future. Third place among the possible measures is shared by the compatibility of family and work and the immigration of skilled workers from abroad, each with 34 percent.

Last but not least, about every third company with problems filling vacancies would like to invest in further training in general, 29 percent specifically in employee skills to cope with digitization or structural change, and more than every fourth company sees an approach in increased employment of older employees.

Serious consequences for individual companies and the economy as a whole

Overall, 85 percent of companies expect negative effects from the growing shortage of skilled workers. 61 percent of the companies are worried about an additional burden on their workforce, 58 percent expect rising labor costs as a result of bottlenecks – a development that could further fuel rising inflation. And: 43 percent of the companies assume that they will have to turn down orders or reduce their range because they lack the necessary staff. This means a significant increase compared to 2019, when it was 39 percent, and far-reaching consequences can be expected.

“Bottlenecks in individual areas can affect large parts of the economy,” warns Achim Dercks. “For example, if there is a lack of IT experts, this also affects medium-sized companies that want to digitize business processes or take care of better cyber security. If there are no truck drivers, industrial production processes can come to a standstill because preliminary products are not delivered on time, and if there is a lack of specialists, for example to lay fiber optic cables, the urgently needed expansion of the broadband infrastructure slows down. So not only do we have supply problems in the value chain, we also have skilled worker problems in the value chain.”

This also reduces the innovation and competitiveness of the German economy, according to the DIHK in its current report. This primarily affects innovative sectors of the economy such as car and car parts manufacturers (35 percent), programmers or medical technology (37 percent each).

Brake on growth puts severe pressure on gross domestic product

“All in all, the number of currently vacant positions is probably more like 1.7 to 1.8 million,” says Dercks, specifying the situation. “Roughly estimated, this slows down value creation by around 90 billion euros – i.e. around 2.5 percent of gross domestic product. The shortage of skilled workers is thus proving to be an enormous brake on growth.”

The DIHK therefore recommends, among other things, continuing the alliance for training and further education so that no young person is lost on the job market, strengthening systematic and practical career orientation and improving the technical equipment and working and learning conditions in vocational schools. From the point of view of the companies, it is also important, for example, to further strengthen the compatibility of family and work and to simplify the rules on the immigration of skilled workers.

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3 thoughts on “Skills shortage brakes digitization, climate protection and e-mobility”

  1. That’s an excuse. It shows that in HR departments the wrecking ball needs to be spinning. So far you have been looking for profiles, after that failed you now have to look for talent. To do this, we need completely different forces in these departments: Sales-savvy and emphatic, interested and creative. In my experience, there are no such people in managerial positions in HR on purpose.

  2. skills shortage? – laughed briefly three times – probably rather bad pay despite good education, in the hope that politics will bring masses of well-trained workers from abroad to the country.

    Basically it works the companies in particular about wage cuts and the squeezing of the workforce up to the limit, as can currently be seen in hospitals and nursing homes – and politicians skimp on money when it comes to financial recognition of the overburdened hospital staff.

    It is said that many jobs at manufacturers and suppliers will be lost due to e-vehicles, the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) would have its sorely missed specialists.

    Retraining costs money? – so it’s better to get cheap, well-trained workers from abroad – why doesn’t the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) say it so clearly??
  3. The fairy tale of the shortage of skilled workers is as old as the disastrous way companies treat their employees.

    Just the fact that the sectors (gastronomy, construction, care, logistics, etc.), who mess around the most with their employees, supposedly have the greatest “skill shortage“, proves where the problem really lies. In addition, in many sectors there is either no interest in training or an extreme dropout rate shows that trainees are treated like dirt.

    And instead of changing something or even set one of the million unemployed professionals over 50, the associations around and throbbing on further massive influx of migrants, which are practically hardened as auxiliary forces.


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