A great work-life balance, excellent transport, a chosen spot of major tech companies, and a social culture featuring currywurst and Oktoberfest… welcome to Germany, a country that’s trying to make itself a top choice for workers keen to move abroad.
Germany badly needs more skilled workers, but one major barrier to attracting international talent has been the country’s love for bureaucracy. In the face of an ongoing skills gap, it’s having to move with the times. That’s why Germany recently decided to make it easier for people from outside the EU to move there for work, with new legislation on the way to help attract fresh foreign talent.
Reform on the way
The move to reform the Skilled Immigration Act (which was cleared by the Cabinet in March) has been spurred on by the fact that the country is suffering from a major skills gap. Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Hubertus Heil, told the Financial Times that if it doesn’t take action, Germany will be short a whopping 7 million workers by 2035.
Some of the skills the country’s missing are in the IT sector, which is interesting given that tech companies love Germany. Major industry leaders like Apple, Amazon, and Airbnb have already been tempted to set up offices there. Meanwhile the country is an incubator for a range of startups alongside homegrown tech behemoths such as SAP and Zalando.
But traditionally, it hasn’t been easy for workers from outside of Europe to move to Germany. Heil is determined to change this. He fears the skills shortage will put a “brake” on Germany’s economic growth, particularly as experienced baby boomers retire in the coming years and their roles go up for grabs.
To help attract more workers from abroad who can bring much needed skills, he’s in the process of reforming legislation. This will make it easier for foreign workers to look for a job in Germany, without the need for a German professional qualification.
Take a “chancenkarte”
Part of this new system will involve what’s called a “chancenkarte” or “opportunity card.” It sets out the criteria for entry involving a points system based on factors like vocational training or a degree, experience, and age.
If applicants have enough points, they’ll be allowed to look for a job in Germany. The government will issue a certain number of these cards every year.
Moving to a new country can bring some challenges, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in another culture. In the past, Germany tended to treat people moving from outside the EU for work as “Gastarbeiter” or “guest workers.”
But Heil says he wants the focus to be on making people feel welcome and integrated in society, not treated as temporary members of the community.
The government launched a portal—Make it in Germany—several years ago, aimed at workers from abroad. Last year, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs made a direct appeal in a new YouTube video for the portal, telling skilled workers: “We need you.”
Key tech hubs
With a population of 83 million, Germany is a huge country with a number of fast-growing tech hubs. But where should you base yourself if you move there for a job in tech?
A Deloitte study found that Munich is the key hub in the country, where you can find the highest number of STEM jobs and the highest level of specialisation in the ICT sector.
Berlin came second, while Hamburg was also a highlight. But it’s not just the well-known German cities that are good options for tech workers—the same research found that Darmstadt, a city near Frankfurt with the moniker of “city of science” was also a top location for tech roles.
Major tech players have been flocking to Germany to set up bases there. Along with a wealth of startups, in Berlin you’ll find Zalando, Google, and Facebook; Munich is where Apple set up its European Silicon Design Center and where Amazon Web Services has offices, while Hamburg is home to Dropbox, Microsoft, and Airbnb.
You can see why they’re attracted to the country—it has a strong welfare system, a low crime rate, good wages, excellent childcare, and a great healthcare service. Its proximity to other European countries means travel across the EU is easy.
Interested? Here are three tech jobs based in Germany that are now open for applicants:
DevOps Engineer, Astriol Academics GmbH, Munich
This recruitment agency is looking for a DevOps Engineer (m/f/d) who wants to work in a job where “no two days are the same.” They offer the freedom to work independently alongside the security of being an employee. The ideal candidate has a degree in computer science or a comparable qualification—check out the full job spec here.
Senior IT Consultant, Xenium AG, Berlin
Xenium AG is looking to add to its IT consultant team, with new hires expected to work directly with a customer in Germany or Austria. This full-time, permanent position is aimed at a person who has several years of professional experience in the IT environment and who can communicate confidently in German and English. More details here.
Principal Fullstack Engineer, Trusted Shops AG, Germany
This role would allow you to work from home anywhere in Germany, adding a remote twist to the job. Trusted Shops develops SaaS solutions for companies all over Europe, and is looking for a highly skilled and experienced Principal Fullstack Engineer to join the team and work with one of its 13 cross-functional product teams. Find out what your day might look like here.