BERLIN, March 13 (Xinhua) -- The economic prospects of German firms are threatened by an acute shortage of skilled workers, a study published on Tuesday by the Association of the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) warns.
According to a survey conducted amongst 24,000 companies, almost every second business in Germany was experiencing difficulties in filling vacancies. Companies were hereby increasingly hampered in their efforts to grow, innovate and invest, a development which threatened to undermine the current momentum of the German economy, the study showed.
DIHK estimated that companies would not be able to fill 1.6 million vacancies in the long term, a negative tendency which was likely to increase due to Germany's ageing population. The country consequently faced a worrying "economic bottleneck", a statement by DIHK deputy director Achim Dercks read.
"We simply don't have enough people," Dercks added. He pointed to the sluggish expansion of transport and high-speed internet infrastructure in Germany as a manifestation of this problem. Aside from a wider demographic trend which would see the size of the German population decrease, the re-integration of long-term unemployed citizens into the labor force still constituted a "formidable challenge" for politicians and business leaders.
Dercks highlighted that the German economy had benefited significantly from the arrival of large numbers of EU citizens from Southern European countries in recent years. Berlin could not rely on a continuation of these internal flows of labor, however, as growth rates were now recovering throughout the entire Eurozone and migration pressures had eased correspondingly.
The study recommended that companies enable their staff to better combine career and family commitments, for example by offering the possibility of flexible hours and "home office" working, in order to succeed in intense competition for skilled workers.
Additionally, DIHK deputy director Dercks said that more immigration by skilled workers from non-EU countries could help alleviate the situation. Dercks's praised the new "grand coalition" government's announcement to overhaul national legislation in this context but cautioned that it could take years until resulting changes had a noticeable effect on the situation of German labor market.