Germany: New Labor Policies for Foreigners Alleviate Skills Shortage, Bundestag Member Says

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By Andrea Barbara Schuessler

July 16—The new law simplifying the recognition of foreign qualifications has helped alleviate Germany's shortage of skilled professionals, Karamba Diaby of the Social Democratic Party, Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition partner, said during a Bundestag debate on the Cabinet's report on the outcome of the legislation.

In his speech to the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament, Diaby stressed the legal right to file an application to have foreign qualifications recognized in Germany regardless of citizenship.

Part of Germany's efforts to attract more foreign professionals to address the country's skills shortage, the legislation effective April 2012 guarantees workers the right to have foreign qualifications evaluated to determine if they meet German standards.

As a result of the law, approximately 26,500 applications were made from April 2012 to December 2013, and most of the professional applicants have had their qualifications partially or fully recognized.

These 26,500 applications, however, represent a fraction of the 300,000 applications the German government had anticipated, according to Karamba, who added that “there is still much room for improvement,” including lowering the cost of recognition procedures.

Nationwide Procedures Needed

According to Özcan Mutlu of the Green Party, Germany needs uniform nationwide recognition procedures, and Cemile Giousouf of Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democratic Union said that this will require further coordination between Germany's 16 federal states.

Under Germany's federal system, implementation of procedures for the recognition of foreign credentials falls to individual states and may vary depending on the unique needs of the individual state, Giousouf said, requiring a central authority.

On the plus side, the legislation will reduce bureaucracy, fight Germany's skills shortage and be a sign of Germany's new welcoming culture, Giousouf told the Bundestag.

“We need to continue along the path that we have started,” Daniela De Ridder of the Social Democratic Party said. “Looking at the flow of refugees, this task will not become smaller, but the potential is considerably larger.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Barbara Schuessler in Berlin at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at

The full report presented to Chancellor Merkel's Cabinet is available on the website of the Ministry of Education and Research at, full text of the law on recognition of foreign qualifications at, both in German. Information on the recognition of foreign qualifications is available in English at

For more information on German HR law and regulation, see the Germany primer.