Labour shortage: What are the opportunities in Germany for expats?

Expat news
  • Berlin, Germany
    ESB Professional /
Published on 2022-02-08 at 10:00 by Ester Rodrigues
Germany is facing labour shortages and is looking for greater immigration to avoid economic crisis, according to Peter Altmaier, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy. Germany wants to attract 400,000 skilled workers from abroad each year, and to attract skilled professionals, it is raising the national minimum wage to 12 euros per hour.

Germany is looking to boost immigration to prevent severe shortages in different sectors to continue with a high level of productivity and endangering a successful energy transition, its economy minister said, as one of the Europe's largest economies faces a demographic crisis.

“We have 300,000 job openings today and expect that to climb to a million and more,” Robert Habeck, a leader of the Greens party, said in a press conference. “If we don't close that gap, we will have real productivity problems”, he said. 

According to the Minister for Economic Affairs, the shortage is in all areas, including engineers, craftspeople, carers. There is a serious concern as the employer-friendly German Economic Institute estimates that the labour force will shrink by more than 300,000 people this year as there are older workers retiring than younger ones entering the labour market.

This gap is expected to widen to more than 650,000 in 2029, leaving an accumulated shortage of people of working age in 2030 of roughly 5 million. The number of Germans in employment grew to nearly 45 million in 2021 despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Sectors facing the most shortage 

For those looking for opportunities in Germany, here are the leading sectors to consider:

  • Electronics Engineer
  • Computer Science 
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Account Managers / Business analysts
  • Civil Engineer / Architect
  • IT Specialists
  • IT Consultants/Analysts
  • Data Scientists/Analysts
  • Software Developers
  • Doctors
  • Engineers
  • Mechanical and Vehicle Engineers
  • Electrical Engineers

The government's survey also highlighted a significant shortage in the care and healthcare sectors, substantiating the claim by the President of the German Medical Association, Klaus Reinhardt, that Germany's healthcare system faces a collapse due to the coronavirus pandemic. The retail industry is also suffering significant staff shortages, with over half of company decision-makers complaining about a lack of workers. The shortage has also affected jobs in the social sector, the education sector, and handicraft and technical professions.

What should expats consider? 


There is demand, among others, for doctors, nursing staff, engineers, mechatronic technicians, IT specialists and train drivers, but the Quick Check on the Make it in Germany website should indicate expat chances of working in Germany. Before you start looking for a job, it is best to first clarify whether expats need a visa to work in Germany. Citizens from EU countries, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, for instance, do not require a visa to work in Germany, whereas expatriates from Canada, Israel, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand or the USA can enter Germany without a visa and remain for up to three months. However, if they want to work there, they will need to apply for a residence permit that allows them to take up gainful employment. 

For expats who need to go through all the visa processes in their home countries, they can consider getting a higher education qualification in Germany, so they can receive a six-month visa to look for a job. For many roles, expats also need to get their qualifications recognized. Expatriates can check whether this applies to them on the Recognition in Germany website. Expats also should obtain health insurance as it is mandatory in Germany, which applies from the first day of their stay.

Looking for jobs 

The job listings on the Make it in Germany website give details of vacancies where international specialists are needed. Expats can also carry out job searches on classical platforms like LinkedIn or at the Federal Employment Agency website, in large employment exchanges like Stepstone, Indeed and Monster. If expats are interested in specific companies, they should look for vacancies directly on their corporate websites.

Society views on immigration 

Although the labour shortage seems a great opportunity for immigration in Germany, expats have to consider that this need is mainly economical and that right-wing populism in German society, in general, is growing. For example, Muslims and minorities have been suffering backlash in the country as there is extreme politics have impacted policies on migrants in the last few years. On the other hand, former Chancellor Merkel had shown enough flexibility to keep immigrants coming. Today, with its new Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, in words, things will keep steady. "Germany is an immigration country", Scholz said.