BERLIN, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) — Germany is facing an unprecedented shortage of skilled workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-based (STEM) professions, a study published on Monday by the German Economic Institute (IW) warns.
According to the study, German companies were unable to fill 337,900 STEM vacancies in October. The figure marked an increase of nearly 6 percent compared to September and the highest monthly shortage of skilled labor in these professions ever measured in the Eurozone’s largest economy.
IW highlighted that the demand for STEM workers was set to increase even further if the ruling “grand coalition” was serious about raising German research expenditure to a level equivalent to 3.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). The institute estimated that the number of STEM employees in research departments would have to rise by 220,000 alone from the current level to meet the official government target.
The growing sectoral labor shortage was identified on Monday in spite of the fact that STEM careers seen to offer very promising career prospects in Germany. Most individuals with corresponding qualifications earned wages which were above the average for other academically-educated employees and unusually occupied senior positions with high levels of job security.
One means by which German companies could fill vacancies in these fields was to lure more skilled foreigners to the country. The study noted that STEM workers in research departments already accounted for 15 percent of the total.
Between 2011 and 2016, the share of immigrated STEM professionals has risen from 14.3 percent to 19.9 percent. Overall, these workers contributed to a domestic value-added amount which IW calculated at roughly 190 billion euros (215.9 billion U.S. dollars) in 2017.
While Germany was among the leading nations with regards to the number of patents filed per employee, however, its performance was only average in the sub-category of digital patents. Most research in this area was currently still concentrated in the domestic automotive industry rather than having spread to other potential applications.
Commenting on this specific finding, the German Employers Association (BDA) urged policymakers on Monday to press ahead with plans to improve the digital competences of schools in the country. “We can only grasp the opportunities of digitalization if our education system also prepares young people for the working world 4.0,” the trade union said.