The 2013/01/17 at 08:50
Marie Luginsland, en Allemagne
As the New Year gets underway, the confidence of German businesses is bridled by the persistence of the crisis. But this doesn’t mean that they intend to hire less this year. A survey published at the start of January, conducted by the 80 German CCIs amongst 25,000 members with fewer than 500 employees and a thousand businesses with over 1,000 employees, points towards the creation of 150,000 new jobs in the next twelve months. A new factor to be taken into account is the fact that 30,000 of the new jobs are to be created in the east of Germany, a region that until now has been struck by the economic recession and desertification.
When company heads draw up their list of preoccupations, the financial crisis is not considered as the only factor contributing towards insecurity. For 34 % of the SMEs surveyed and 33 % of major companies, a lack of qualified labour is thought to be a risk factor leading to a loss of competitiveness at a time when the same businesses are gearing themselves towards international markets. This labour shortage even seems to be getting worse. In 2010, only 16 % of businesses questioned by the CCIs raised hiring as a problem.
On top of this, the IT and new technologies sector, traditionally in great demand of graduates, is not the only one to experience such difficulties today. The IT branch, where 42 % of businesses declare themselves to lack staff, has now been taken over by the catering and health sectors, for which 52 % and 63 % respectively complain of a lack of candidates.
In this way, the prospect of an economic slowdown or even a recession does not hamper the desire of businesses to increase their staff numbers. On the contrary, the demographic decline and needs related to the ageing population are contributing to the soar of certain sectors such as health, medical technology or else community services. Medical technology and pharmaceutical companies also foresee boosting their exports to emerging countries.
As far as this employment dynamic goes, strong gaps nevertheless threaten to develop between different sectors of activity. In this way, SMEs focused on export, particularly towards Eurozone countries and in sectors such as machine tools and electronics, remain careful about their recruitment prognostics. Similarly, employment is expected to diminish in retail businesses, more pessimistic about the outcome of the crisis and the maintenance of purchasing power.
Hans Heinrich Driftmann, President of the DIHK (federation of German CCIs) nevertheless declares that throughout the country, businesses will be drawing on labour reserves. While remaining closed to non-qualified persons, the employment market should, in his opinion, open up to women wishing to pick up professional activities or else holders of the Blue Card, the German model following the American principle of the Green Card, aimed at encouraging the immigration of graduates.
The energy obstacle
According to the President of the DIHK, what is important today is to strengthen overseas communication about these opportunities on the German job market. The network of German CCIs has 120 branches in eighty countries, the AHK (Auslandshandelskammern).
As pointed out by the CCI survey, the employment dynamic will however be marked in the long term by two important political factors: taxation and energy prices that may be serious obstacles to job creation.
At the start of this electoral year, businesses are awaiting strong signals from Berlin. Indeed, 52 % of SMEs place energy and raw material prices in the forefront of their preoccupations in 2013. The 30 % increase in electricity rates as of 1 January affects industries that consume great volumes of energy such as metallurgy, glass manufacturing, ceramics, but also automobiles and chemicals. These businesses indicate that they expect to cut jobs this year if conditions do not get any better. Indeed, other than the cost of energy, the endurance of electricity supply worries businesses. The capacities of the current grid are not adequate for distributing energy from renewable sources – namely wind energy – from the North Sea to the country’s central or southern regions. As the DIHK concludes, “electricity cuts lasting a few seconds can lead to costly interruptions of production and even cause damage to machines.”