Job vacancies in Europe’s largest economy hit a record high in the first quarter of this year, according to provisional data released this week. The number of unfilled posts rose by 75,000 to 1.064 million in the last 12 months, according to the latest quarterly survey of Germany’s job market by the IAB Institute for Employment Research.
Unemployment has been slowly but steadily decreasing in the past decade, and held below 6 percent in recent months, its lowest level since Germany’s reunification in 1990. With fewer jobless, the number of job vacancies can only go up.
“The German economy seems unfazed by external risks such as the possible rise of protectionism and consequences of Brexit,” IAB researcher Alexander Kubis told the news agency Reuters. He added companies “are looking for new employees to an extent never seen before.”
But the resilience of Germany’s job market is a mixed blessing for the economy. Many employers are struggling to fill positions for weeks, sometimes months. According to the IAB, it takes them 82 days on average to recruit a suitable candidate. Six years ago, that was just 70 days.
Yet even in times of low unemployment, 2.7 million people are still out of a job in Germany, or nearly three job seekers for each job vacancy. “But that’s not the way it works. It’s getting more and more difficult to match job offers with job seekers with the adequate profile,” Susanne Eikemeier, a spokesperson for Germany’s Federal Employment Agency, told Handelsblatt Global. She said that typically, the unemployed tended to be concentrated in areas with higher unemployment, such as the Ruhr region in Western Germany, while jobs are available in other regions like the wealthy southern state of Bavaria.
“And often, job seekers do not have the necessary qualifications,” she added. Of the openings available, 20 percent do not require vocational education, 64 percent want applicants who have been trained on the job and 16 percent are calling for graduates.
Jean-Michel Hauteville is an editor with Handelsblatt Global in Berlin. To contact the author: [email protected].