Are German firms hiring more consultants?
The German Federal Labour Agency is confident that gradual improvements in the economy will lead to further reductions in unemployment across the country in the coming months.
In its August report, the organisation showed the number of jobless people increased slightly, but overall levels of employment were stable and healthy. The study also suggested that businesses are growing in confidence and are looking to expand.
Companies are hoping to attract a greater number of highly skilled workers in the near future and there is particularly strong demand for people with experience in mechatronics, energy and electrics, metalworks, machinery, vehicle construction, sales, healthcare and logistics. The way in which businesses are hiring new employees is changing globally, with greater emphasis being placed on temporary and contract work. This is a trend that is starting to emerge in Germany too.
More companies are looking for contractors
Despite being the largest economy in Europe, Germany still has skills shortages in certain sectors. In order to plug these gaps, some firms are hiring talented professionals from overseas.
According to Bulgarian news publication Standart, German businesses are looking to eastern Europe for experienced computer scientists. A number of state-run programmes have been launched to help more suitably skilled Bulgarians under the age of 35 secure high-paid jobs in Germany. Such schemes cover the cost of travel and transportation of belongings, as well as language courses.
Germany has a sizeable Turkish population and a new study by the British Council's Education Intelligence suggested that companies may be planning to employ more talented workers from Turkey. The research showed that 17 per cent of Turkish youngsters who study abroad choose Germany because they stand a better chance of landing a job once their course is finished, Times Higher Education reports.
This is because Germany recently liberalised its post-study employment restrictions and this could be crucial to wider attempts to narrow skills gaps.
Employment industry reforms
Speaking to the Financial Times, David O'Brien, an Analyst at Shore Capital, said that various employment reforms made in the last ten years have made Germany more attractive to skilled overseas workers.
"Germany was one of the latter markets that underwent deregulation of the labour markets, about a decade ago. As a result, recruiters have been increasingly active in the market since then," he was quoted as saying.
Figures published by Destatis, the federal statistics office, in September 2013 showed that temporary workers accounted for 7.5 per cent of all jobs in the country in 2012. This is a significant upturn on previous years and figures seem to have crept up since the part-time staffing sector was deregulated in 2004.
Temporary and contract workers are not the same
Although the Destatis statistics provide a degree of insight into German hiring trends, it is important to recognise the differences between contractors and temporary staff. In many cases, companies will hire low-skilled workers on temporary terms and there has been a growing trend for seasonal or "zero-hours" working arrangements in certain parts of Europe.
Contractors - while still employed on a non-permanent basis - can potentially earn more money than full-time staff at a particular company. This is evident in the IT sector, where experienced professionals with valuable skills can be hard to find. It is not uncommon for contractors to remain with one business for a long time, as firms are reluctant to lose a specialist who has proven so valuable to their organisation.
It seems hiring patterns in Germany are shifting - albeit steadily. As with other parts of the world, businesses appear to be more reluctant to offer permanent contracts, with many favouring a more flexible approach to adding new talent to their organisation.
With the eurozone economy starting to recover, companies will inevitably look to expand. However, skills shortages are an obvious problem - especially for the IT sector - which means employers need to look further afield for the most talented and experienced professionals. While this is a Europe-wide issue, there is already evidence to suggest German firms are increasingly open to hiring foreign specialists.