Germany needs to recruit more migrant workers to help replace its aging workforce, says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The country already has the most open policy for recruiting highly skilled immigrants of the OECD’s 34 member nations, though that number is small when compared to other countries.

Germany allows just 25,000 people a year to work in the country, equivalent to just 0.02% of the population.

That compares with countries like the UK, Canada and Australia where the number is up to 10 times higher.

Now the OECD is saying that things will have to change to counter a predicted 5.4 million shortfall of workers by 2025.

Reluctant to recruit

Another issue highlighted in the report is that German employers are reluctant to recruit from outside Germany – even those who expecting labour shortages in the coming years won’t recruit migrants.

Yves Leterme, the OECD’s deputy secretary-general, said: “This issue is a problem for Germany because the country’s future prosperity depends on it remaining competitive with its aging population.

“Without an appropriate immigration policy Germany will struggle with its projected labour shortage.”

One issue being highlighted for the low rates of employment for skilled migrants is an immigration system with a poor reputation and widely criticised as lacking transparency.

Despite this, the system is acknowledged to be more open than many other countries as it doesn’t impose a limit on migrants entering the country.

It’s also a quick and inexpensive procedure and highly skilled applicants are rarely refused entry.

In addition, university graduates have an excellent range of opportunities with those without any qualifications effectively being barred from getting jobs.

Ban with exceptions

The OECD says that Germany’s system is perceived as being a ‘recruitment ban with exceptions’ and the country’s smaller businesses in particular are suffering from a recruitment shortage of highly qualified workers.

Another major obstacle to recruitment is the language – and the OECD says the country should make efforts to teach German in countries where they would have access to a large pool of highly qualified workers.

Speaking the language is a prized asset for employers.

The OECD report also highlights that a low or medium skilled worker from outside the European Union will have ‘little chance’ of getting a job in Germany and this, the organisation says, is something the country should take steps to improve because this is where employer demand is most acute.

Mr Leterme said: “Germany needs to make more efforts in making the country more attractive to migrants and become more competitive in the global race for the best talent.”