Half of German companies report labour shortages

A general view of the BMW Group motorcycle manufacturing unit in Berlin, Germany. The skilled worker shortage is not only a burden on businesses, but it also jeopardizes success in important tasks for the future like the energy transition, digitisation and infrastructure build-out, says an expert. Photo: Reuters/file

More than half Germany's companies are struggling to fill vacancies due to a lack of skilled workers, the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) said on Thursday, in the latest sign of growth headwinds belabouring Europe's largest economy.

The proportion of companies facing difficulties hiring was at its highest ever level, the DIHK found in its survey of 22,000 companies, with 53 per cent reporting shortages.

"We can assume that some 2 million vacancies will remain unfilled," Achim Dercks, DIHK's Deputy Chief Executive, said, with the result that companies were foregoing nearly 100 billion euros' worth of output.

The labour market's resilience did not mean companies were doing well, he added. Staff shortages, high energy prices and the shift towards climate neutrality were a "dangerous mix" that could lead firms to move production abroad. UK trade union says 100,000 public sector workers to strike on Feb.

"The skilled worker shortage is not only a burden on businesses, but it also jeopardizes success in important tasks for the future like the energy transition, digitisation and infrastructure build-out," he said.

Workers with the relevant skills were growing ever scarcer, he said, including in the manufacturing sectors that are the engine room of the German exporting powerhouse.

The survey found that 67 per cent of electrical equipment manufacturers were unable to fill vacancies and 67 per cent of mechanical engineering companies. In carmaking, 65 per cent of companies reported labour shortages.

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