(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s technology lobby criticized a planned law designed to lower hurdles for immigrant skilled workers, saying it won’t be enough to plug a yawning labor shortage in Europe’s biggest economy.
The draft legislation, which was signed off by Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet on Wednesday, includes elements such as not requiring proof of German language skills, more flexibility on recognizing non-German qualifications and a points system for finding work.
Achim Berg, president of tech lobby Bitkom, said the government’s plan “falls short of expectations and what is needed” to address Germany’s growing shortage of IT specialists, estimated by the group at about 137,000.
“Many of the new rules will only be able to succeed if the opportunities for digitalization are consistently applied,” Berg said in an emailed statement. “Too often, this is not the case,” he added, urging the authorities to build out digital interfaces to accelerate the visa process and recognition of qualifications.
Germany had nearly 2 million open positions on the job market last year, according to government data, with workers in the tech sector, health care and childcare in particularly short supply.
Officials warn that the shortage has become a threat to Germany’s prosperity and that the country’s aging population will only exacerbate the problem. Germany’s Institute for Employment Research says the country will need to attract 400,000 qualified workers from abroad each year.
Speaking in the lower house of parliament Wednesday, Scholz said that encouraging skilled workers to come to Germany should go hand in hand with stopping people arriving illegally and deporting those who had.
“We have a great need for regular immigration and we also have a need to reduce irregular immigration,” Scholz told lawmakers in the Bundestag in Berlin.
“That’s why we’ll seal agreements with many countries that tie the two things together,” he said. “Taking back those who can’t stay here and an invitation to those who exactly fit with the needs of our labor market to give them a chance to come to Germany.”
--With assistance from Michael Nienaber.
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