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Germany eyes speeding up naturalisation amid huge worker shortage

Germany is looking at granting citizenship to foreigners who are particularly well integrated in just three years, as it battles to fill a huge shortfall of around a quarter of a million workers by 2026.

Under a plan unveiled Wednesday by the labour ministry, Europe’s biggest economy is also looking at making it more attractive for workers to retrain or take on further education.

The country of about 80 million is facing shortages across numerous industries, with the ministry predicting a shortfall of some 240,000 skilled workers by 2026.

Factors including the digital transformation of the economy, the pandemic and the impacts of the Ukraine war were presenting new challenges for the labour market, it said.

“For many businesses, the search for skilled labour is now an existential question,” said Labour Minister Hubertus Heil.

“And our country needs skilled labour, to manage the digitisation of our economy, and its shift towards becoming climate-neutral.”

The ministry outlined its strategy to tackle the issue, including improved training and modernising the immigration system.

The government wants to make it easier for people to hold multiple nationalities and make naturalisation of foreigners easier, it said.

In future, naturalisation will be possible after five years instead of eight years currently, and as little as three years in cases where people are deemed to have integrated particularly well.

The strategy will be presented to the cabinet in autumn for its consideration.