Young Professionals Caught in Internships – We need Immigrants!

We have had several discussions about insufficent resources when it comes to employees. It turned out that due to demographic change, Germany needs more old people. (See Katrins post Why should employers think about hiring or keeping older employees?) But obviously, Germany also needs more young people – due to the shortage of skilled labour, which Katrin also talks about in her Post What they can do for us. I also read about the DIW study so I researched a bit further – unbelivable how many opinions I found! My team member Thomas argues in his post Germany and its ‘Lack of Young Professionals’ – Status quo that Immgration might be an inevitable step to solve the issue.

Let me list just a few of my findings.

Die Welt
Die Welt states that there is no shortage of skilled labour but too high expectations of companies and many unemployed graduates. We all know that Die Welt is a very conservative paper and might not be interested in taking part in the ‘We need more immigrants debate’.

Die Zeit
However, so does the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. The article picks up the debate on a study by DIW (German Institute for Economic research), another study by IW (Institute of German Economics) and another one of HIS (Institute for Research at Hanover University) and compares all these findings against each other. (See also my post Monocutural Management for a Multicultural Workforce?)

Verein Deutscher Ingenieure
On the other hand, VDI, the Association of German Engineers, claims that in 2050 there will be 250,000 ‘missing’ skilled employees. In Baden-Wuerttemberg alone!

And, as Thomas puts it referring to a study of Prognos AG: “They forecast that there will be a lack of 5.2 Million employees on the German labour market until 2030! The majority are young professionals!”

Der Spiegel
The weekly magazine Der Spiegel detected what we all know about these studies. They are as precise as your boss wants them to be. In this case, the boss is Klaus Zimmermann, president of DIW (German Institute for Economic Research), who is known for the following statements: (source:

In 2015, there will be a lack of 3 million employees in the German labour market.
Without immigration, wealth will decrease.
People will have to work until they are 70 by then.

On December 16, 2010, another labour market expert of DIW, Karl Brenke, was about to release a study about the allegedly fatal shortage of skilled labour – he called this matter a “Fata Morgana” and was even talking about an abundance of labour in some sectors. Soon after a pre-release was printed in the Spiegel, the actual release was delayed by two days and the study was revised. Mr Brenkes opinion was made suitable to Mr Zimmermanns opinion. Whole paragraphs were changed and lots of fillers were used to weaken the original thesis. And to top it all, the revised study ends with some comments of Mr Zimmermann, in which he finally adjusts the findings. He is asking rhetorical questions and answering them in a way contrary to some (already weakened) arguments of the study. In a later interview, Mr Brenke denied his findings, claiming he was just taking into account some short-term views.

The link below guides you to an interactive graphic which compares version 1 and version 2.

Tons of experts, even more opinions.

This research turns out to be a never-ending story. We might talk about the shortage of skilled labour in terms of Diversity Management, bringing me back to the need to integrate a multicultural workforce which has also been discussed several times here (See e.g. Saiids post).

But it also raises another question to me: Why are so many of my graduated friends doing internships instead of entry-level positions? Even as engineers? Maybe it is just my friends who do not fulfill any requirements for positions they are actually paid for? Maybe it is just them who should be really thankful that some company was so generous to take them? I don’t think so to be honest. It might help if companies would integrate graduates. Is it really necessary to be outstanding young, to have three diplomas, to speak four languages, and to have five years of experience? To give the ball back to Katrin, I’d like to cite her: “Maybe companies have to dismiss their perfectionism and say hello to the real world? And what happened to training on-the-job? Doesn’t it exist anymore?” Because this could be another point Diversity and Human Ressource Management could start at when looking for skilled labour.

3 Responses to “Young Professionals Caught in Internships – We need Immigrants!”
  1. thob84 says:

    Thank you Mary for referencing me to your post which has a very pleasant layout 🙂 I am glad that you picked up the topic which is wide enough to be an ongoing discussion…

    I just read it and you have brought up more insight into the debate whether there is a lack or not. I personally also find it very confusing to have this statement of a lack of young professionals but still everyone is doing an internship and no one seems to get a regular paid job.

    Katrin raised a thesis in this matter: “Companies want to keep salaries low”. This can be confirmed if we look at the last decades of steady wages in Germany.

    What do you think?

  2. katjo2010 says:

    Thank you for picking up this interesting topic and referencing to me 🙂 It’s really striking how many sources there are and how different their points of view are.
    You managed to put it together nicely and in an appealing way. Thank you for that! It is, as usual, very enjoyable to read your post 🙂
    Regarding your statement and question in the end: I think you are very right, stating that the integration of graduates is a crucial point companies, and especially HR and Diversity Management, need to apply. I think an interesting approach would be to get bachelor graduates to join your company and further train them there, by e.g. enabling extra-occupational master studies or promotion programs. I found a good example for that: German Telekom; they offer this kind of integration for graduates (see PDF from slide 4).

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  1. […] Young Professionals Caught in Internships – We need Immigrants! I picked up a discussion by Katrin (What You Can Do For Us) and Thomas (Germany and its ‘Lack of […]

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