Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Several German business sectors dependent completely on foreign workers

The saga of Germany and its workforce keeps making headlines as various business associations release annual or semi annual reports which are then dutifully reported with little context and promptly forgotten over more topical news, such as Donald Trump's latest outrageous gaffes, something evil about Russia, the return of a former soccer star after a redemptive prison sentence for millions in tax evasion.

Or the Olympics.

Which give German media ample reason to post long stories about athletes and doping, about lost stadium keys, and the recurring question "three days in and no medal, what's wrong with German sports?"

Foreign migrant workers labor in agriculture, harvest fruit and vegetables, and they get their annual mention. Last week, meat processors and bakers reported a shortage of young Germans signing up for vocational training contracts.

This week, the construction industry followed with the alarming headline that only qualified foreign workers keep the country's building industry afloat among a building boom unheard of for decades.

Since 2008, the percentage of foreign workers in the German construction industry has doubled to over 13%, and companies are desperate to tap into the workforce represented by last year's young refugees. Subcontractors from Eastern and Southern Europe are also popular in the industry.

The most interesting figures, though, are at the very end of the article: in 1995, the German construction industry had 1.4 million employees. In 2016, around 763 000, despite an increase in new building permits of 22% over the previous year.

Low paid jobs and physically hard work will continue go to foreign workers - notwithstanding all the anti-immigration rhetoric that gained popularity in Germany, too.

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