Berlin calls for measures to ease IT specialist shortage
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on industry to step up efforts to help ease the acute shortage of skilled IT specialists facing the country but ruled out moves for further liberalization of the nation's immigration laws.
10 December 2007
Hanover, Germany (dpa) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on industry to step up efforts Monday to help ease the acute shortage of skilled IT specialists facing the country but ruled out moves for further liberalization of the nation's immigration laws.
Speaking at a government-industry IT summit, Merkel joined her Economics Minister Michael Glos in arguing that German business should seek out new workers in the domestic labour market by improving IT training and boosting the sector's attractiveness to older workers.
Older employees should believe they "always had a chance" Merkel told the around 500 business leaders gathered in the west German city of Hanover for what is the second government-industry IT summit.
Like their counterparts in many western nations, German companies have been hit by a shortage of IT experts with Europe's biggest economy recording IT job vacancies of about 45,000 while at the same time the number of IT experts graduating from German universities has been falling.
The IT labour shortage was costing German industry about one billion euros (1.47 billion dollars) a year in terms of lost revenue, said August-Wilhelm Scheer, the president of Germany's IT industry association, Bitkom.
But Merkel also joined Glos in rejecting industry pleas for Berlin to take further steps to allow companies to recruit IT specialists in nations outside the European Union with the German government having already moved to free up the rules for highly qualified workers from its partners.
"Even if we would open all the doors for immigration it would still take a long time to find the specialists we need on the market," said Glos.
In particular, Merkel's government has rejected a call from industry to slash the 85,000 euros a year that is required for highly qualified immigrants seeking to enter Germany.
But Bitkom president Scheer said the nation's immigration laws needed to be revamped and the country was missing out on attracting young IT workers.
A third IT summit has already been set down for next year with the government also planning to appoint a special commissioner to oversee the IT industry's development in the nation.
Subject: German news