German business is desperate for skilled staff with academic and technical backgrounds, particularly the mathematicians, IT specialists, natural scientists and technicians referred to collectively in Germany by the acronym MINT.
On the one hand, young graduates are in short supply, as demographic change thins out each new cohort and new generations of students opt for other subjects. On the other, there is a growing demand for highly trained staff as companies concentrate on ‘knowledge work’ to survive fierce international competition. Inhibiting production and development, this shortage of skilled workers costs billions of euros every year.
Companies attempt to lure scarce applicants with high pay. Increasingly, too, they are training existing staff to the required level. Yet business cannot end the shortage on its own. Universities must produce more technical graduates. According a higher importance to technical subjects in schools would generate more interest, especially among girls. Last but not least, the German states must invest more in their tertiary institutions. Currently, too many MINT students are dropping out due to the poor conditions they have to study under. All these measures are expensive but they would pay off in the long term - even for the state, since technical graduates are usually good tax payers.