It's about time!: Shortage of skilled workers at a record high: why this concerns us all and why we finally have to rethink

There is news that people now like to read over.

It's about time!: Shortage of skilled workers at a record high: why this concerns us all and why we finally have to rethink

There is news that people now like to read over. Simply because we've heard it so many times that we shrug it off as familiar without really thinking about what it actually means to us. The current results of the German Economic Institute (IW) on the immense shortage of skilled workers undoubtedly belong in this category. And yet we shouldn't just accept them, we should act. Because when there is a shortage of skilled workers, it not only affects the economy, but ultimately each and every one of us.

But from the front. The story of the shortage of skilled workers is not new. For years there has been a lack of skilled workers in many sectors, especially in the trades, in the social sector and in the health sector. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the situation in gastronomy, trade and tourism has also deteriorated noticeably. According to the current study, more than 630,000 vacancies for skilled workers could not be filled last year. At the same time, the number of mental illnesses and workers on sick leave is increasing. Coincidence? Hardly likely.

It is not for nothing that the federal government has been working for some time to make immigration easier for skilled workers from abroad. An effort that will surely help sooner or later. Nevertheless, we are now left with a gaping skills gap. And that is mainly filled by the workers who are already working in the affected sectors.

At first glance, this may sound like a problem that primarily affects companies that cannot recruit new skilled workers. But if you take a closer look, you will quickly notice that systemically important areas such as health, trade and social affairs are particularly affected by the shortage of skilled workers. This means that the shortage of skilled workers quickly becomes our problem as well.

For example, when the nurse in the intensive care unit is overworked because he is working overtime due to staff shortages. Or when young people are left to their own devices because school hours are constantly being canceled due to a lack of teachers. Or simply when we have to mend our burst pipe ourselves because the next tradesman doesn't have an appointment for five days.

We are facing a problem that in the end we can only solve together. Because in addition to the political and economic efforts to make immigration easier and access to education easier, we should also ask ourselves how we perceive the affected sectors in society as a whole. Yes, for the hospital staff, we clapped on the balcony during the pandemic.

But only because we then collectively became aware of the value of their work for the first time. That any of us can end up in the hospital and then we have to rely on the nurse and the doctor to get a good night's sleep. But, we have to be honest, the wave of appreciation quickly subsided.

If we're honest, we often forget the value of other people's work in our own lives. And that's kind of human. We don't consciously perceive that people at school care that our children learn something. That the craftsman squeezes another appointment into his overflowing calendar so that our door can be repaired. That the restaurateurs put good food on our tables, bartenders give us a nice evening with a good drink and hoteliers ensure that we get a little break from everyday life. Of course these people are doing their jobs. But they also give us something. Maybe it's worth giving them a little more appreciation sometimes.

Of course, this is not the panacea for the shortage of skilled workers. We will only be able to close the gaps again if we achieve better pay and fairer working conditions in the relevant sectors. Flexible working time models also make sense in order to inspire younger generations of employees to take up a job.

You understood something important: work is not everything. It's important nonetheless. And indeed every form of work: that of the caretaker as well as that of the bank manager. If we manage to internalize this more when we work together, then maybe more people will want to become specialists.