What do engineers, care managers, and logistics specialists have in common? If the forecasts are right, people in these job groups will soon be swamped by a flood of lucrative career opportunities. Despite the still quite substantial unemployment figures, Germany is experiencing an unparalleled scarcity of specialists, which will only worsen over the next few years. This affects not only jobs that require an academic qualification: vocational qualifications are equally affected by it. The estimate is that around one million jobs for university graduates and 1.3 million jobs for people with vocational qualifications will remain vacant by 2015.
Wanted: Automotive and Mechanical Engineers
The current figures (as of 05/2012) suggest that there are around 100,000 vacancies for engineering positions. Siemens alone is looking for 2700 qualified recruits. Smaller companies without an international reputation or appealing name are finding it virtually impossible to find suitable recruits. If one considers that half a million engineers are nearing retirement age, one can see the immense risks threatening the German economy. The situation is similar in automotive and mechanical engineering, where technical innovation is held back by a lack of qualified personnel. In electric mobility and renewable energies, both permanent staff and freelancers are in great demand. This cuts across disciplines and types of jobs, from the research and development of new technology to consultancy and assessor functions.
Scarcity Caused by Demography, Growth, and the Evolution of Manufacturing
The reasons for the increasingly severe dearth of qualified staff can be found in demographic changes; at the same time, constantly increasing growth rates and the relocation of manufacturing facilities do their part in changing the world of traditional German industry jobs. The demographic trends are characterized above all by the visible aging of the German population. Increasing numbers of pensioners are sustained by a constantly decreasing working population. According to the DIW (Deutsches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung), this is counter-intuitively made worse by the actually promising experience of an economy that will continue to grow by 2.4 percent in 2013. The DIHK suggests that approx. 250,000 new jobs would have to be created for this – which only adds to the current half a million of unfilled vacancies for mechanical engineers and technicians.
A Country of Lighthouse Keepers
Germany has placed its hopes in knowledge and research, in particular in the high-tech area. Actual production is moving to other countries and continents as part of the global distribution of labour. This means: today’s students must not follow the current job realities, but rather look to how they will change in the future. When the number of actual production jobs in Germany decreases, research and development, but also the effective exporting of new technologies will become the typical jobs of the next generation.
A Disastrous Scarcity of Recruits in the Healthcare Sector
Technical disciplines are not the only areas of our economy to experience a time of boom and simultaneous crises as a result of lacking sufficiently qualified recruits. People interested in social or care work will find appealing opportunities in the constantly growing market for geriatric care. The engineers, automotive specialists, and supply chain managers are joined by the care manager as one of the secure jobs of the future. The entire healthcare sector promises reliably good options for career-minded young talents, from hospital work to health insurances, at pharmaceutical companies or in the research and development of biotech innovations.
Lucrative Opportunities for Graduates and Qualified Trainees
One thing all of these jobs have in common is that they usually expect a completed university degree. An engineer at a carmaker should ideally have studied engineering and specialised in car design in his master’s course. He should have particular expertise in mathematics and physics and possess strong problem-solving skills. A supply chain manager should be a graduate economist with IT knowledge or a background in a related discipline, such as mathematics, mechanical engineering, or electrical engineering. Care managers have a degree in care management and ideally have experience with healthcare institutions. Being good with figures is the norm for all of these job groups: but then the figures are equally good: the gross entry-level salary lies between 35,000 (Supply Chain Manager) and 44,000 (Automotive Engineer) Euros per year.
A Golden Age for Apprenticeships?
In engineering and the automotive industry, competent applicants will find open doors for a lateral move. What companies expect is a technical background and a track record of relevant qualifications. In the growth industry of logistics, there are other jobs that are open to people with academic or vocational qualifications alike, such as the “Logistics Management Assistant”. Since 2009, the logistics industry has been experiencing constant growth and has long left behind its traditional sphere; 800,000 of its 2.6 million people were recruited within the last four years alone.
Consulting for the Right Choice
Even in such promising times, some decisions deserve care. A second opinion, grounded in a broad network or competent expertise, can help pave the way. One thing is certain: more and more university graduates are turning to smaller, specialist HR and business consultancies to find the best career options for their needs. In a world of constant change, it is essential that we know our true market value and make the most out of our individual career opportunities.