In the German labor market, foreigners are playing an increasingly important role. to work in Germany from countries outside the European Union. Over the past ten years, their number has more than tripled. There are relatively few Russians among them. However, the main influx of foreign labor force, also growing rapidly, comes from EU member states. This is evidenced by the latest data on labor migration, published on July 22 by the Federal Statistical Office of Germany (Destatis).

Germany is actively issuing temporary residence permits

At the end of 2021, over 295,000 foreign citizens were registered in Germany from countries outside the EUwho have received a temporary residence permit (permit) for employment. In 2011 there were 90,500 of them. Thus, over the past ten years, the number of such labor migrants has more than tripled, Destatis points out.

Young doctor in the operating room

Blue Card helps German hospitals deal with growing shortage of doctors

Approximately every fourth (24%) worker with a temporary residence permit was the holder of a “blue card” (EU Blue Card). This special type of EU residence and work permit has been issued since 2012 to foreign specialists with higher education if they have received an invitation to a specific and well-paid job: the annual salary must be at least 56,400 gross euros (before taxes).

But the minimum level can be even lower – 43,992 euros, if we are talking about scarce professions, which in Germany include, for example, doctors and IT specialists. Almost half of the Blue Card holders in Germany (48%) had a specialty in short supply at the end of last year.

How many workers in Germany with Russian passports?

The total number of Russians who purposefully came to Germany to work and received a temporary residence permit amounted to 9,400 people by the end of 2021, according to Destatis. Thus, after Turkey, Russia has taken the last place in the top ten countries outside the EU that provide the largest influx of personnel to the German labor market.

And the undisputed leader with a share of 11% is India, from which 33,900 workers came. The top five also includes Bosnia and Herzegovina (26,300), Kosovo (19,600), Serbia (17,400) and China (16,700).

IT specialist from India

Specialists from India can be found at a variety of high-tech German enterprises

Thus, Germany receives the largest number of workers either from the two most populous states on the planet with a highly developed system of higher education – India and China, or from the Balkan countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Serbia. Albania and North Macedonia should also be added to them, taking 7th and 8th places in the Destatis list. It is noteworthy that according to this statistics, 75% more workers came from the United States of America (6th place) to work in Germany (16,500) than from Russia.

Here, however, it should be borne in mind that in reality there are much more holders of both Russian and, by the way, Turkish passports in the German labor market. After all, Destatis in this case includes in its statistics only arrived workers with a temporary residence permit and does not take into account all those who live and work in Germany on a permanent basis, for example, after marriage with German citizens, not to mention holders of dual citizenship.

IT-specialists from Russia and Belarus are in high demand in Germany

At the same time, these statistics very clearly reflect the actual flows of labor migration, and the importance that certain countries have for replenishing the German labor market.

Work at computers in a German IT company

German IT firms are very interested in Russian and Belarusian IT specialists

However, this year the relatively modest role of Russians in the statistics of Destatis may grow significantly. Due to the large-scale Russian aggression against Ukraine and the withdrawal of numerous Western companies from the Russian market, a large number of highly qualified personnel left Russia, and some of them went specifically to Germany.

Yes, only one Deutsche Bank brought hundreds of IT specialists to Germany from its data centers in Moscow and St. Petersburg by offering them a job at the bank’s new technology center in Berlin, opened in early June. And in early July, with a specific program of maximum speeding up and simplifying the issuance of visas and residence permits for IT specialists from Russia (and Belarus) the influential German association of the digital industry Bitkom spoke.

Labor migration in Germany: EU countries play a key role

However, the main role in satisfying the personnel shortage of the German economy is still played by residents of the EU countries, who in Germany do not need either a residence permit or a work permit. According to Destatis, the total number of EU citizens who came to Germany to work was 1,650,000 in 2021. This is almost six times more than the number of labor migrants from the rest of the world, including China and India.

Scaffolding with three workers

People from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe often work in Germany on construction sites

Moreover, almost every fourth (23%) EU citizen who moved to work in Germany was from Poland (380,000). Then come Romania (271,000), Italy (208,000), Croatia (131,000) and Bulgaria (109,000), as well as Greece (108,000). So the top six are again dominated by countries wholly or partly located on the Balkan Peninsula. The top ten also includes Hungary, Austria, Spain and France.

Thus, the German labor market and, consequently, the collectives of German companies are becoming more and more multinational. This process began in the 1950s and 1960s, when the rapidly developing West German economy required a large number of workers and the FRG began to purposefully import guest workers from Italy, Portugal, Turkey and former Yugoslavia.

In today’s united Germany, the active involvement of foreign labor, primarily skilled, began in 2008 and increased dramatically after 2014, notes Destatis. This is due both to the steady growth of the German economy, Europe’s largest, and the deteriorating demographic situation – the aging of German society, when the number of retirees is growing and at the same time fewer young Germans enter the working life.

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