Germany needs skilled workers. Workers from Europe do not meet our needs, which is why we have been recruiting specialists from countries outside the European Union for years. However, when it comes to the question of who should come to Germany as a worker, a long-term perspective is required.
When immigrating via flight and asylum, people who need us come to us. With the controlled immigration of workers, on the other hand, people come who we need. But what does this distinction, which is as correct as it is banal, mean for the recruitment of workers from third countries?
Recruiting labor is about long-term benefit to our economy and society, not just meeting short-term business needs. Because we want the people who come to us to settle down, integrate and become a part of our society. So we need to look at people's entire life cycle, right up to retirement age.
In a well-developed welfare state like ours, the social benefits to be expected in the course of a lifetime, such as health benefits and pensions, must also be considered.
It is also necessary to consider the age at which people come and whether sufficient old-age provision can be built up with the income that can be expected by the time they retire. If you ignore these factors, you are short-sighted.
What applies to the local population also applies to immigrants: a good education is the basis for a permanently secure job. For this reason, professional qualifications must be and remain the decisive criterion for controlled immigration. It secures the job in the long term and thus prevents immigration into the social systems.
However, all of the traffic light's proposed legislation on labor migration lowers the qualification requirements. With the new points system, two years of training according to the standards of the country of origin, for example Pakistan or the Philippines, should be sufficient to be allowed to enter Germany. This can't be the right way.
In addition, the traffic light is considering expanding the so-called Balkan regulation, which does not require any prior professional qualifications, to countries far away from Europe. The FDP spoke out in favor of Gambia and Nigeria, for example.
Like every European country, Germany experiences different types of immigration. In the case of refugee immigration, it is rightly only about the need for protection and not about ability to perform. Any attempt to reinterpret this group as a solution to the shortage of skilled workers is bound to fail. Due to immigration via flight and asylum from outside Europe, it is mainly people with little or no previous professional qualifications who come to us.
However, of the 1.9 million vacancies reported to the Federal Employment Agency, only 24 percent are for unskilled workers. For this area, we must and can draw our needs from the potential of the people who are already living in Germany and will continue to come via uncontrolled refugee immigration in the future.
In return, however, this means that where control is possible for the benefit of our economy, we actually have to control it. After all, it is not the type of immigration that is decisive for our economy and our social system, but rather the long-term contribution of all immigrants.
And according to numerous research results, this contribution depends very decisively on the qualification level and thus also on the salary level of the contributors. In concrete terms, this means that immigrants should, on average, at least have the same level of qualifications as the local population if we want to maintain our prosperity.
In the overall mix of our immigration, the qualification factor must remain the central benchmark – at least where control is possible. So we don't need experimental labor immigration that hides parts of reality. We need an immigration of skilled workers that also deserves the name.
The author is domestic policy spokesman for the Union faction in the Bundestag.