Intro to Germany

April 23

As I write this, I am sitting in the airport at Frankfürt after yet another busy trip to this wonderful country. Germany—the outlier, the strongest economy in Europe and the third largest economy in the world—has many things to be proud of: great cars, fabulous beer and of course leading-edge technology. (Think Siemens, BMW, etc.).

These German companies and the multinationals we do business with in this market all have one thing in common: they simply can’t find enough skills to meet demand. While in other parts of the “Western” world there has been high unemployment for the past five years, in Germany the situation is quite different (February unemployment was at 5.7%), and recruiters are facing a distinct talent shortage, particularly in the technology sector. 

This skills shortage is something we have seen in other parts of the world as well (for example, India). In Germany, at the beginning of 2011, as many as 117,000 jobs from the MINT specialist areas (mathematics, information science, natural science and technology) remained vacant (Source: Institut der deutschen Wirtschaft [Institute for Economic Research]). Furthermore, McKinsey forecasts a lack of two million technical skills by 2020 in Germany, and the Federal Employment Agency in Germany predicts that the potential labor supply will decrease by approximately 6.5 million persons by 2025. 

Although this outlook paints a bleak picture for recruiters to attract top talent, all is not lost. In a tight labor market, the opportunity lies in the “movement of people.” This is the perfect time to focus on awareness building initiatives. The focus is to attract “passive candidates” so that the moment a candidate seeks change, they already have an eye for which company is most desirable. Creating that “talent pipeline” is more important than ever.

The media landscape in Germany is unique in that print is still seen as a viable vehicle for communicating one’s opportunities, but this is starting to shift, much like in other parts of the world, to online. What is interesting to see is that the shift is happening much faster, and as job seekers start to use different devices, computers and smart phones, they are also demanding more content on these devices.

Many organizations focus only on creating campaigns, and this results in spikes in applications but does not ensure the creation of “talent pipelines.” Talent pipelines are a fairly new concept in Germany, but they give an organization an advantage, and it allows the candidate and employer to get to know each other long before the offer is made.

Of course, due to the worldwide economic situation, some organizations are remaining cautious about hiring, but one thing is for certain—there will be movement in the labor market in 2012. The question is: how ready are you to take advantage of it? 

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