Germany's skilled labor shortage keeps some working well past retirement age
Natalie Carney in Saarland, Germany

Germany is in urgent need of skilled workers. The country is facing a shortfall of more than two million professionally trained workers across a variety of industries, including health care, IT, construction and even tourism.

In the small western state of Saarland, Michael Kopper, the managing director at Alois Omlor GmbH has been forced to think outside of the box when it comes to recruiting new drivers for his building materials business.

"It becomes increasingly difficult for us to find new drivers or even to maintain the number we have," he tells CGTN.

German language skills, harder and more expensive qualification requirements and the fact that it is no longer an "attractive" job, says Kooper, are among the reasons why applicants are not knocking down his door.

"We have been trying to find drivers via social media, trying to lower the application hurdles, trying to get women interested in the profession and people with disabilities," he says.

Kopper explains that even though technology has made driving easier, widening the potential talent pool, there are still very few bites.

Germany's skilled labor shortage keeps some working well past retirement age

Even age is no longer an issue: Kopper admits that around 20 percent of his workforce are currently over 60 years of age.

One example is Udo Klingst. The 70-year-old has been driving trucks since 1975.

"I really enjoy driving," he tells CGTN. "I've always enjoyed driving and as long as I've been able to do it without any health problems, I really don't see why not."

Klingst is also saving up to make repairs to his house, something his German pensions would not afford. And that's another factor pushing senior citizens to delay their retirement. In Saarland alone, around 22,000 people over the age of 65 are in some form of employment, according to the regional directorate of the Federal Employment Agency.


Future pensions and green transition at risk

The German government is well aware that having enough skilled workers to fill shortages and keep the economy going is a vital aspect to keeping future pensions propped up.

So much so that Berlin has made adjustments to the country's Skilled Immigration Act to lower the barriers for trained individuals from countries outside the European Union, such as reducing the language skills required or even educational requirements.

This is also hurting the country's green energy transition with estimates that at least  216,000 electricians, heating and air-conditioning experts and IT specialists are needed to develop the country's solar and wind energy sectors.

Germany's skilled labor shortage keeps some working well past retirement age

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