(Bloomberg) -- Germany is poised to lower hurdles for skilled workers from abroad in a bid to plug yawning staff shortages in Europe’s largest economy.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet is due on Wednesday to approve measures to allow citizens of countries outside the European Union who’ve signed a contract with a domestic employer to start work immediately, according to a strategy paper seen by Bloomberg. They would then have their vocational qualification recognized later.

The government also wants to make it easier for younger immigrants to take up vocational training or study in Germany. The plan envisages a transparent, unbureaucratic points system for candidates interested in finding work in Germany -- similar to long-standing programs in countries like Canada.

Economy Minister Robert Habeck will present the new strategy to reporters after Wednesday’s cabinet meeting, along with the ministers of interior, labor and education.

“This will be the most liberal immigration law in Europe,” Habeck said Tuesday at an industry event in Berlin. He warned that Germany isn’t just facing a shortage of skilled labor, but of workers in general, and said the nation had “been blind to this problem in recent years.”

Decades of low birth rates and uneven immigration flows have created a demographic imbalance that is undermining Germany’s economy, which is still dealing with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and grappling with the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Scholz’s Social Democrats, together with Habeck’s Greens party and the business-friendly Free Democrats want to attract 400,000 qualified workers a year from outside Germany. Half of all companies are struggling to find skilled workers, and the shortage is particularly acute in services, according to a survey published in August by the Munich-based Ifo institute.

The government is also planning to overhaul Germany’s citizenship rules. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said Monday that the aim is to get the necessary legislation through parliament in the first half of next year.

Opposition parties have attacked the proposals, which would remove hurdles to naturalization, shorten the time applicants must live in Germany before applying for citizenship and allow people to retain multiple passports.

--With assistance from Arne Delfs.

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