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June 26—Part of Germany's efforts to attract more foreign professionals to address the country's skills shortage, legislation effective since April 2012 guarantees workers the right to have foreign qualifications evaluated to determine if they meet German standards. Employer organizations have expressed concern, however, that the effectiveness of the legislation may have been undermined by the government's failure to adequately promote it.
During 2013, the German government issued significant new employment regulations intended to attract foreign employees. Under the Regulation Governing Employment of Foreigners, non-European Union citizens may apply for work in Germany if their qualifications meet German standards and if there is a shortage in the German labor market of the skills they can provide. The Federal Employment Agency has prepared a “white list” of industries facing shortages in Germany and will amend it on a regular basis as the employment situation changes. Since August 2013, online application for credential recognition has been allowed.
According to a report prepared by the Ministry of Education and Research for Chancellor Merkel's Cabinet earlier this month, recognition procedures at certification bodies take 59 days on average.
Some 26,500 applications for credential validation were filed between April 2012 and December 2013, according to the report, most of which came from professionals of Polish, Romanian and Russian nationality. To address its skill shortage, however, Germany must attract professionals from other EU member states and from outside Europe, Knut Diekmann, head of the Training Division of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) told Bloomberg BNA June 18, and in fact the regulations are directed at foreign professionals worldwide, a spokesman with the Ministry of Education and Research told BBNA.
In addition, the German government implemented the European Blue Card program in August 2012, under which non-EU citizens, including U.S. nationals, holding university degrees or similar qualifications and earning gross annual compensation of at least 48,400 euros ($51,500) in 2015 can qualify for a permanent residence permit after living in Germany for three years provided they remain in an employment relationship. Non-EU citizens qualified in shortage occupations particularly needed in Germany—such as science, mathematics, engineering, health care and IT–can qualify for resident status earning a gross annual salary as low as 37,752 euros ($40,000).
According to Diekmann, the DIHK is concerned that the effectiveness of these changes to Germany's immigration policies has been undercut by insufficient worldwide promotion. Between April 2012 and the end of 2014, for example, only about 40,000 prospective applicants were advised on the new legislation, and the “white list” is only updated on an annual basis and does not differentiate between the labor demand in different states and regions in Germany.
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The full report presented to Chancellor Merkel's Cabinet is available on the website of the Ministry of Education and Research at http://www.bmbf.de/pub/bericht_zum_anerkennungsgesetz_2015.pdf, full text of the law on recognition of foreign qualifications at http://www.bmbf.de/pubRD/bqfg.pdf, both in German. Information on the recognition of foreign qualifications is available in English at http://www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de/html/en/index.php.
For more information on German HR law and regulation, see the Germany primer.
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