East German Economic Forum: Scholz: Foreign skilled workers must be welcome

Against the background of the shortage of skilled workers in Germany, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI) are pushing for more openness to foreign skilled workers.

East German Economic Forum: Scholz: Foreign skilled workers must be welcome

Against the background of the shortage of skilled workers in Germany, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and the Federation of German Industries (BDI) are pushing for more openness to foreign skilled workers. Scholz and BDI President Siegfried Russwurm made that clear on Sunday at the East German Economic Forum in Bad Saarow, Brandenburg.

Scholz called for a change in consciousness. It needs to be understood that foreign skilled workers are not only needed, but are really welcome in Germany. "As an employer, you can contribute to this cosmopolitan Germany. And that's what I'm asking you to do today," Scholz appealed to companies.

"Let me be absolutely clear: xenophobia and prejudice are the last things our country needs," warned BDI boss Russwurm. Germany is "colorful and not brown". That is important and right for a country that is more dependent on international networking than almost any other country.

Shortage of skilled workers as the greatest concern

Scholz pointed out that the shortage of skilled workers is the biggest concern of East German entrepreneurs. Good wages are a decisive location factor. "East Germans still get around 620 euros less wages per month than West Germans on average, in some sectors even up to 1,000 euros," criticized Scholz. With the "Economic Boom East" that must change. Greater collective agreements, strong trade unions and employers' associations also increase the attractiveness of a location.

At the conference in Bad Saarow, about 50 kilometers southeast of Berlin, from Sunday to Tuesday, representatives from politics, business, science and society will discuss economic change. It is about the conditions for industrial companies, the shortage of skilled workers, global competition and energy supply. Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens), among others, is expected at the forum on Monday.

Immigration law should be reformed

"The federal government supports companies in the training and further education of skilled workers," emphasized Scholz. "But the truth is that we will not be able to fill the gap that is opening up in the East in particular with local workers alone." That is why the federal government wants to create "probably the most modern immigration law in the world". The Bundestag is currently advising on this - the final vote in the Bundesrat is planned for the beginning of July.

Then workers and skilled workers could come to Germany much more easily than before, also to look for a job. But laws and regulations are only one side, said the Chancellor. "Employees and specialists, especially in future-oriented industries, can now choose where they go. And then the supposedly soft factors often make the difference," Scholz made clear. "It won't fail here in the East because of the beautiful landscape, affordable housing and affordable free schools and daycare places."

Scholz: East Germany's economy is booming

According to von Scholz, eastern Germany can become a growth engine. "East Germany's economy is booming. There is actually hardly any future technology, hardly any growth industry that is not already at home here in East Germany or is currently looking for a new home here," said the SPD politician.

Germany is working on removing bureaucratic obstacles. "But the most important thing, in addition to reducing bureaucracy (...), is having the courage to make decisions," said Scholz. As an example, he gave the employee of a district office who had to approve an electrolysis plant for the first time. Out of fear, many experts would be consulted. However, Germany will quickly need many hydrogen-capable gas-fired power plants for its energy supply. Pilot plants were not enough. There are too many regulations, also too many expert requirements, stated Scholz. "So Germany must dare to dismantle a few expert regulations."

At the conference, various business representatives made it clear that companies must also be taken on board with the numerous laws that the federal government is passing. Companies should not be left behind in the transformation, they said in a round of talks with Scholz.

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