The American Chamber of Commerce in Germany (AmCham Germany) says Germany needs more skilled workers to continue meeting the needs of US companies.
With 60,000 workers in Germany, the country is important for McDonald's
At the presentation of its annual sales-based ranking of the top 50 American companies and subsidiaries in Germany, AmCham Germany urged the country to do what it can to bolster its skilled workforce or run the risk of damaging its image.
Speaking in Frankfurt on Thursday on behalf of the 50 largest US companies in Germany, Vice President of AmCham Germany, Otmar Debald, said more than half of them feared that "a lack of qualified personnel would stunt their future growth."
In a press release accompanying the report, AmCham Germany identifies a rack of issues feeding into the concerns of the top 50 companies, which include Ford, McDonalds, Coca-Cola Deutschland and the IBM group.
It cites aging of society and operating personnel, longer working life of employees, and the increased importance of knowledge and competence in order to secure a competitive advantage as the main demographic challenges the current job market is facing.
Ford was the top selling US company in Germany in 2009
One of the most obvious answers to the problem, according to the US-German organisation, lies outside the national boundaries. "In order to assure growth, we are going to need to attract qualified workers from overseas," Debald said.
But in order to achieve that, AmCham Germany says it will be necessary to reduce the bureaucratic hurdles which currently prevent highly skilled foreign workers from settling and working here.
The suggestions include such things as wider recognition of degrees and training programs, the international transference of pension claims, tax relief for relocation and school fees, and residence permits for family members and partners.
Integration is key
AmCham Germany calls for integration from the beginning
But it is not only workers from abroad who have the capacity to prevent the workforce demographics from acting against future economic growth. Spokeswoman for AmCham Germany, Patricia Limburg, told Deutsche Welle there is plenty which can be done domestically.
"Germany has a growing demand in skilled workers but simultaneously fewer qualified workers at a junior level," she said. "We have to support integration and shape the education system in order to equip our own upcoming generation of workers with the skills they need."
Limburg stressed the need to invest more in German citizens with a migrant background from kindergarten age. Failure to do so could not only slow growth and damage Germany's reputation as an investment location, but could ultimately take away its competitive edge.
Reporter: Tamsin Walker
Editor: Nina Haase