Your company is already operating in Germany and you would now like to export worldwide?

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We've Got Talents – Germany's Skilled Workforce

Germany’s well-educated and skilled workforce is key to the country’s high level of productivity. Its workforce includes a population of more than 43 million – making it the largest pool of skilled labor in the European Union.

Germany is undergoing fundamental structural changes with energy transition, the decarbonization of industry and climate neutrality by 2045. To be ready for this new industrial era, Germany is actively taking measures to secure a workforce fit for the future.

Germany ensures high qualification levels

The majority of the German workforce has completed an upper secondary or post-secondary education program – in addition to the high number of people that have completed a tertiary program. Around 87 percent of the German workforce have received at least an upper secondary education. 

Country attractive for international talents

Germany has opened up its labor market for skilled workers in recent years and is further implementing new visa and residence permit regulations to attract international talents. One milestone is the new Skilled Immigration Act, an instrument to make the country ready for the future and safeguard the labor market from future labor shortages.

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Germany's Workforce

Germany is home to a highly educated and motivated workforce with proven language skills and interest in the STEM disciplines.

Skilled labor is readily available

Germany has a high percentage of individuals with secondary and tertiary qualifications. According to EUROSTAT, approximately 87 percent of the individuals aged 25 to 64 have completed at least an upper secondary program, and around 28 percent have obtained a tertiary degree. A dual vocational education and training (VET) program combining vocational on-the-job training and general classroom instruction has been completed by more than 40 percent of the adult population.

STEM subjects are popular in tertiary education

 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects are very popular among graduate students in tertiary education in Germany. These disciplines, chosen by 35 percent of students, offer diverse specializations and research opportunities that cater to various interests and career goals.  The popularity of STEM subjects also reflects the country’s strong focus on scientific and technological advancement.

Worker motivation levels are high

Germany is internationally renowned for its highly motivated and productive workforce. There are several factors coming into effect: a strong work ethic, a positive work environment (including reasonable working hours), paid vacation, and social benefits as well as a proven commitment to skills development and training. A recent IMD survey confirmed the leading position of Germany among its major FDI competitors.

English is widely spoken

English is taught as a mandatory subject in German schools - starting in primary education and continuing through to secondary education. Many individuals also choose to further improve their English language skills through private instruction, online resources and international study opportunities. These factors all contribute to Germany's prominent position in the EF English Proficiency Index (EF EPI).

German employees are loyal to their company

Job tenure of employed persons, i.e. the length of time a person has been employed continuously by a particular company, is very high in Germany. According to EUROSTAT, approximately 87 percent of the workforce have been continuously employed for at least one year - and around 45 percent for at least 10 years. This means that employer spending for on-boarding and initial training are minimal.

International students remain in Germany

International students who come to Germany to study extend their visit to stay in the country. According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, 48 percent of students who registered to study in Germany between 2006 and 2011 were still living in the country after five years. One third of the total number of students issued with a study residence permit during the same period remained in Germany after 10 years. Germany's high retention rate of international students is amongst the highest among OECD countries.

Did you know? 

Germany is the world's third most attractive destination for foreign students - only behind the USA and UK. Get the details here.


Germany's Unique Dual Education System

Germany's dual system of vocational education and training combines the benefits of theoretical and practical learning. The system is an international export success - having been adopted by many countries around the world.

The German government, the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) and the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH) ensure that strict standards of professional development are maintained. This helps ensure that a high quality of skilled labor is available across Germany. Close cooperation between the public and the private sector ensures the efficiency of the dual system.

Almost 20 percent of German companies participate in the scheme. More than 70 percent of trainees continue their professional career in the company where they received their vocational training. A system that is responsible for the lowest youth unemployment rate in Europe (the current number of trainees exceeds 1.3 million) enjoys an unparalleled reputation – both in Germany and abroad.

Dual Education System
Germany’s Dual Vocational Education and Training (VET) System

Find out more about Germany's labor market

Reform of Skilled Immigration Act

Germany has reformed its immigration law. The major ambition of the modernization is to attract more skilled workers from abroad.

The modernization of the Skilled Immigration Act creates new opportunities to enter Germany for employment or training. The act provides a three-pillar model on which skilled labor immigration is to be based:

  • skilled labor,
  • experience, and
  • potential.

Skilled labor force

Skilled labor remains the central element of immigration in the act. In general, the law provides for greater flexibility. Skilled workers with a degree acquired or recognized in Germany are now able to pursue any form of qualified employment - not just in the sector in which they acquired their degree.

Recognition of professional qualifications

Recognition of the professional qualification in Germany is now possible after entry into the country. For this purpose, skilled workers and employers must agree on a recognition partnership. The partnership requires a professional qualification of at least two years training or a university degree - both of which must be recognized by the country of training as well as German language skills to level A2.

This allows employers to employ qualified staff from non-EU-countries more quickly. The employee can also complete the recognition procedure in Germany and take up a qualified employment post from the very first day of arrival.

The EU Blue Card

The EU Blue Card is available to a greater number of skilled workers as a result of the lowered salary threshold. The scope of the EU Blue Card for professions in special demand has also been significantly expanded. For instance, managerial staff in the production of goods or in logistics, as well as an extended group of healthcare professionals have also been included. These groups benefit from an even lower salary threshold.

Another new feature is that IT specialists without a university degree are able to obtain an EU Blue Card under certain conditions where they can provide evidence of certain non-formal qualifications. It has become easier for EU Blue Card holders to change employers in general.

For detailed information on the reformed EU Blue Card, please refer to our Investment Guide to Germany.

Recognizing professional experience

Immigration of workers with at least two years of professional experience and a professional qualification recognized in the country of issue is now allowed. To be eligible, a certain salary threshold must be reached or the employer must be bound by collective bargaining agreements. The removal of the need to recognize professional qualifications in Germany for this group means less bureaucracy and shorter procedures. It is sufficient that the responsible German authority confirms that the degree is recognized in the country in which it was obtained. Where the conditions are not met, recognition of the professional qualifications in Germany is still required. 

"Opportunity Card" for job seekers

An "Opportunity Card" will be introduced for people who do not yet have a concrete job offer but who have potential for the labor market.

This will be based:

  • either on a qualification fully recognized in Germany, or
  • a qualification recognised in the country in which it was obtained in combination of a points system. 

The points system includes criteria made up of formal qualifications including knowledge of German and English, professional experience, links to Germany, age, and employment potential of life partners or spouses. 

The opportunity card facilitates the search for a job. Employment of up to twenty hours per week - including trial employment with a future employer for up to two weeks - is already permitted during the job search. For detailed information on the opportunity card, please refer to the portal Make it in Germany.

Are you looking for international skilled workers?

If you want to attract international skilled workers, the Quick Check for employers from "Make it in Germany" - the German government's portal for skilled workers from abroad - will show you how to search for, recruit and integrate skilled workers living abroad.

FAQs: Work Visas and Labor Regulations

Germany welcomes international talents. Find out how the country is opening its doors to skilled workers and the rights and obligations they enjoy in Germany.

Open and flexible labor market

Germany has opened up the German labor market – particularly for skilled workers – in recent years. The Skilled Immigration Act currently stipulates the conditions under which qualified professionals from outside the EU can work in Germany. 

For detailed information on residence permits for employees or visa in general, please refer to the Visa and Residence Permit for Business in Germany section of our online Investment Guide.

Business-friendly employment models

There are various employment models in Germany that provide expanding companies with flexible, employment solutions - especially in the business start-up phase.

For more details on what employers need to consider once employees have been found please refer to the Employees and Social Security section of our online Investment Guide.

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