Podcast "important today": Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil: "Without qualified immigration we have lost"

He has been Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs for five years.

Podcast "important today": Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil: "Without qualified immigration we have lost"

He has been Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs for five years. Hubertus Heil took office in March 2018, at that time still under Chancellor Angela Merkel. Today the Federal Chancellor is called Olaf Scholz, and Heil is no longer dealing with a grand coalition, but with the traffic light – Greens, FDP and of course his own party, the SPD. He prefers to work with these parties, he says in the 427th episode of the morning podcast "important today". They still wanted to change something: "I didn't experience that with the Union. They didn't want to change anything anymore." But after a year of permanent crisis and more than ten months of war in Ukraine, he also admits: "That was a pretty tough year. You have to do both – manage the crisis and make progress."

He was able to implement one of the projects close to his heart at the end of November, citizen income: "I think it's a really good law and not a compromise that had to be wrested from me," says Heil. Previously presented in the coalition agreement, it will replace Hartz IV from January 2023. The rates will increase by 50 euros, but the protective assets of 40,000 euros are lower than originally planned and the six-month period of trust, during which there should be no sanctions, will be completely eliminated. Under pressure from the Union, the draft law was rejected in the Bundesrat and had to go through the mediation committee of the Bundesrat and Bundestag. "A lot of nonsense was said beforehand about the draft law, and the CDU/CSU talked a lot into each other. Wrong numbers were also used," Heil criticizes the opposition. But that is behind him.

He is satisfied with the result and even talks about the big hit that could bring society together: "This dispute about Hartz IV, which we have now experienced for 20 years, has poisoned our society a bit," says Hubertus Heil. For a long time he supported Hartz IV, but now finds the system outdated: "I'll caricature that: Some people acted as if all long-term unemployed people were too lazy to work, that was always wrong and also unfair. Others acted like that as if every obligation to cooperate was an attack on human dignity, that's also nonsense, of course."

163.33 billion euros - that's how much money Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil will have at his disposal in 2023. This is the largest post in the cabinet. He will need the money because three quarters of his budget goes to his pension alone. Studies show that from 2030 demographic change will have progressed so far that pension requirements can no longer be covered. Heil even speaks of 2025: "Then the generation of baby boomers will go into well-deserved retirement. That can and must succeed if we manage to leverage all the potential that we have on the job market."

Women and mothers should get out of the part-time trap, older people should receive further training and younger people should be brought onto the job market – a big project with little time. That makes it all the more urgent, says Heil: "We have 1.3 million people between the ages of 20 and 30 without initial vocational training. And I see them again in the job centers as citizens' income customers." He wants to pull out all the stops. However, this also requires workers from abroad. That's why Heil wants to do more for the topic of integration in the new year and create a points system based on the Canadian model: "In Germany, we won't remain a prosperous country without organizing the issue of securing skilled workers at home and immigration."

Before he tackles these issues in 2023, the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs will be on Christmas break. The heating in the building will be switched off, which he agreed with the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, Robert Habeck. Hubertus Heil wants to enjoy the days with his family. And: "I'm looking forward to watching 'Die Hard'."

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