BERLIN - German businesses are struggling to fill vacancies amid a worsening labour shortage, with an estimated two million unfilled positions across the country, an employer group said on Thursday.
Achim Dercks, president of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), said in a press conference that the vacancies "resulted in a loss of 100 billion euros ($108 billion) in potential value creation".
The researchers interviewed 22,000 German companies for the report, finding half of them are having difficulty finding workers -- a "record figure".
Germany has for years faced a growing labour shortage in diverse sectors including industry, hospitality, health and construction, due primarily to an ageing population, but the situation has worsened in recent years due to the Covid pandemic.
"Skilled labour" is particularly sought after, while 58 percent of companies in the industrial sector report a lack of manpower.
Two-thirds of companies in two sectors emblematic of Germany's economic power, machine tools (67 percent) and the automobile industry (65 percent), have also reported problems finding staff.
The DIHK demanded a change in labour laws to fix the issue, including easier recruitment of foreign workers, a reduction of bureaucracy, greater participation of older people in the labour market and better work-life balance to attract and retain employees.
"The energy crisis and supply chain problems are not the only risk factors for deindustrialisation for Germany. Recruitment problems as well (are a factor)," Dercks explained.
The DIHK called for "facilitating labour-based immigration" for non-Europeans, particularly Ukrainians, who have recently arrived in Germany.
The German government, which in September estimated the shortage of skilled workers to be approximately 240,000, has laid out a plan to reform visa policies to attract foreign labour.
In November, Germany's governing coalition agreed to pursue a points-based system inspired by the model in place in Canada.