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Far-right and ground realities: Half of German companies face labour shortages

Far-right and ground realities: Half of German companies face labour shortages


Survey coincides with recent polls in the UK show which majority of Britons say Brexit was a mistake

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BERLIN (Web Desk/Reuters) – The ultra-right forces are on a rise in Europe and always ready to fuel hate against migrants – a phenomenon best illustrated by the success of Geert Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) in the recently-held elections in the Netherlands – and they are anti-immigration.

But the economic realities are different from the political rhetoric. That’s why they can’t deliver notwithstanding when and where they come into power – both the West and the East included.

Talking about ground realities, Germany is an example with the AfD – a far-right party – expanding its support base.

However, the DIHK Chamber of Commerce and Industry, according to a Reuters report, says half of the German companies are struggling to fill vacancies due to labour shortages, despite stagnation in the euro zone's largest economy.

Germany, like industrialised countries around the world, is facing deep labour shortages, particularly in skilled high-growth sectors.

The proportion of companies facing difficulties hiring was slightly down from the previous survey of 22,000 companies, falling to 50 per cent from 53pc in January, but remained elevated.

Meanwhile, this survey coincides with another one carried out in the United Kingdom and explains the situation well, showing that a majority of Britons support re-joining the European Union single market even though that would mean the restoration of the free movement of workers from the bloc.

Curbing immigration was a key reason Britons voted to leave the European Union in 2016.

Polls in recent months have shown that a majority of people now think Brexit was now a mistake, and Wednesday's poll comes less than a week after data showed that annual net migration to the United Kingdom hit a record high last year – more than double the figure recorded in the year before the Brexit vote.

Coming back to Germany, Achim Dercks, DIHK's Deputy Chief Executive, said, "The skilled labour situation remains very critical."

According to the latest estimate, 1.8 million jobs remain unfilled in the German economy as a whole.

"This means that more than 90 billion euros ($98.8bn) in added value will be lost this year," said Dercks. "That corresponds to more than 2pc of gross domestic product."

The industry and construction sectors were the hardest hit by labour shortages, with 54pc and 53pc of those companies struggling to fill vacancies, respectively.

"Some sectors are not only talking about gaps in skilled labour, but about a general shortage of workers," Dercks said while presenting the report.

The survey showed that eight out of 10 companies expect negative consequences from labour shortages.

Aware of the struggle, the German government passed new legislation this year to attract foreign workers from non-EU countries, which came into force on Nov 18.

For Dercks, the implementation of the new law will be crucial to fill the workers gap. "This will only happen very gradually," he said.

More than half of the companies see the recruitment of foreign labour and skilled workers as an option to secure skilled labour, the survey showed.

"What helps in any case is that companies are increasingly turning their attention to the topic and are very open to it," he said. "There is pressure from the business community to make this law a success."