Labor chief opposes welcome bonus for foreign workers | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 02.08.2010
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Labor chief opposes welcome bonus for foreign workers

The Chairman of Germany's Federal Labor Agency speaks out against Economy Minister Rainer Bruederle's plan to attract skilled foreigners, saying Germany should first focus on mining the potential of its own workers.

Female engineer at work

Weise said companies need to do more to get skilled German women back to work

"We have to use the potential we already have here in the country," Frank-Juergen Weise, head of the Federal Labor Agency, told the Financial Times Deutschland on Monday. "We can't allow people to remain in unemployment only because their talents aren't being used."

Last week, Bruederle called for Germany to open its doors to skilled workers abroad, and suggested that businesses use financial incentives to attract employees.

Economic experts in Germany have warned that by 2014, the country will be lacking more than 200,000 engineers, scientists, and technicians. Many German companies are already complaining about a shortage of skilled workers.

Lack of child care keeps skilled women at home

Weise says that it's first and foremost up to companies to do more to attract qualified employees; looking abroad should be a last resort.

"Those companies which want to attract and keep qualified workers have to offer something, and they can do this themselves; they don't need to turn to legislators," Weise said, citing a lack of child care programs as one example of a hurdle discouraging qualified women from re-entering the workforce.

Frank-Juergen Weise

Weise says Germany needs to tap into the potential of its own workforce before going abroad

"There simply aren't enough child care options, and given the current crisis, communities aren't in a position to do anything about it," Weise said. "It's also up to employers and employees to organize things in a way that they can combine work and family."

Meanwhile, Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer also took aim at the measures proposed by Bruederle, telling the business daily Handelsblatt that the first step should be getting people out of work and back into jobs.

"The things we should be focusing on are education, qualifications and further training," Seehofer said.

According to Handelsblatt, however, many German companies are already discreetly searching for qualified workers such as IT and medical specialists in other parts of the world via English-, Russian-, and Polish-language Internet platforms, despite the fact that there's been an official ban on the active recruitment of foreign workers in Germany since 1973.

Author: Deanne Corbett (dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Sam Edmonds

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