The IW's Education, Immigration and Innovation competence area is researching how education and immigration contribute to securing skilled labor.
The experts scrutinise the educational system from early-childhood teaching, primary and secondary schools right up to tertiary education. The focus is on both monitoring educational processes and policy developments as well as issues of funding and fairness with respect to the education system. Our economists analyse the contribution of migration to securing a skilled workforce, examine the importance of workers qualified in STEM subjects (science, technology, electronics and mathematics) for a country’s innovation performance and investigate whether such workers are sufficiently available to the labour market. The unit identifies potential bottlenecks and suggests how these might be removed.
The experts in this unit work on requirements for an efficient and performance-oriented school system. Moreover, they analyse how pupils can develop appropriate competences to start a vocational training. To guarantee that all people in Germany have access to basic skills, the researchers engage in the project AlphaGrund. This project, amongst other things, develops and implements training and educational concepts to acquire basic skills at the workplace. Furthermore, the experts develop proposals concerning the funding of academic education. They analyse the effects of the Bologna-reform and provide research on the private sector’s involvement at German universities. Additionally, they compare the latest developments of the educational policy in the different German federal states. The results are published annually in the Bildungsmonitor (education monitor) which is based on established educational economics categories like educational equality and returns on education.
The economists analyse how migration contributes to securing the supply of skilled workers for the German economy. To encourage immigration to Germany, this unit develops and runs the Welcome Portal for foreign professionals Make it in Germany on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. The multilingual website provides information on how foreign skilled professionals can successfully find their way to Germany – and what makes living and working here worth it.
The unit Innovation and STEM identifies the drivers of technological change as well as ways to increase their impact. Therefore, the research focuses for instance on the patent system and the governmental funding of research and development. Skilled professionals are particularly important for an economy’s innovative capacity. The German business model is based on export-oriented high-technology industries like mechanical engineering, vehicle manufacturing, electrical and chemistry industry. These industries employ a high number of qualified STEM workers. To ensure the future success of the German business model, it is important to secure the availability of such skilled workers. Within the framework of the initiative MINT-Zukunft schaffen (STEM- Shaping the future), the unit examines the availability and demand for STEM workers and investigate the labour market for engineers on behalf of the Association of German Engineers (VDI). As a result, the researchers develop measures for securing the supply of skilled workers in Germany.
Children whose parents lack a good command of German are at a clear disadvantage in the German education system. A dedicated analysis of the Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) shows that, in 2019, for 10.5 per cent of children under 16 at least one parent, and for 5.2 per cent both parents, were not fluent in German.
Germany is an immigration country that has recorded large migration gains in recent years. However, the numbers of departures were also at a very high level in 2019 with 1.2 million and 2020 with 970,000. This is mainly explained by the fact that many forms of migration have a temporary character. Therefore, it is not necessarily to be regarded as critical.
Against the background of demographic change, Germany is increasingly dependent on immigration to secure growth and prosperity. In this context, the actors at the municipal level must also become active and shape their own regional migration and demographic policy. This is particularly the case in regions affected by high emigration.
With the retirement of the baby boomers from the labour market, Germany will be increasingly dependent on skilled workers from abroad in the coming years in order to stabilise its economic performance.
Germany is facing major structural challenges stemming from the four trends digitalisation, decarbonisation, demographics and de-globalisation. These trends occur simultaneously and cause additional demand for policy, especially at their interfaces, so that the transformation process can be shaped successfully.