Seven million people. So much will soon be missing on the German labor market when the baby boomer generation retires. There is a lack of young people far and wide: there are currently over two million vacancies in Germany. At Maybrit Illner, the party leader of the Greens, Ricarda Lang, the deputy party leader of the CDU, Carsten Linnemann and the former Federal Minister of Labor (SPD) and current CEO of the Federal Employment Agency, Andrea Nahles, discussed how the shortage of skilled workers can be counteracted.
Jörg Dittrich, President of the Central Association of German Crafts, reported how he experienced the shortage of skilled workers as a master roofer. Also invited were the former business journalist Elisabeth Niejahr and the author Sara Weber.
Actually, Andrea Nahles has been the head of the Federal Employment Agency (BA) for around six months – but she didn't seem to be able to escape her former role as Minister of Labor in the round on Thursday evening. In the meantime, she even jokingly addressed moderator Illner as the "no longer politician". The debate on Thursday evening revolved mainly around the "retirement at 63" - which Nahles had initiated as a minister. Because a large number of workers are claiming early retirement, there is a shortage of people on the labor market.
Illner asked if she regretted the "retirement at 63" because of that, but it was clear to Nahles: "At the time, we recognized the achievements of a generation that started training at 15 or 16. I stand by that.” To Illner's objection that “retirement at 63” had unexpectedly expensive consequences, Nahles replied calmly: “My colleagues from politics will take it and shape it and I'm excited,” she said. "Seriously."
"Retirement at 63 was one of the biggest socio-political mistakes of the grand coalition," said Carsten Linnemann (CDU). Nahles immediately reminded him: "But you also agreed to that." Linnemann had to concede: "Of course I was also responsible." It was a compromise. Actually, the CDU only wanted to secure the mother's pension with it, he said.
Linnemann sees the responsibility clearly in Nahle's party. People who were already suffering from physical problems before 63 because of physically demanding jobs should have been given more support, he said: "Instead, most of the people who were in top shape were pulled out of the labor market who are now missing." Politicians right behind. The so-called "active pension", which is intended to create incentives to work beyond retirement: "I would make it tax-free for everyone who reaches the statutory retirement age and then voluntarily works longer," said Linnemann.
Jörg Dittrich, who runs a roofing company, is also critical of 'retirement at 63': "We can no longer afford it," said the entrepreneur. Instead, you have to ask yourself how work can be designed to be age-appropriate, for example that older people work in training or in the customer area instead of on the roof.
He partially agreed with Linnemann's proposal for an active pension, but also emphasized that older people must also be offered other incentives to work longer, such as social connections or the feeling of doing a meaningful job.
“How can we get to the point where people work well and are then really able not to be completely burned out by the time they are 50 or, in some cases, by the time they are 20?” asked the author and journalist Sara Weber. In the first year of the pandemic, she quit her job due to stress. Now she is committed to ensuring that mental health is also discussed in the context of the labor shortage.
She gave the example of a baker she interviewed for her book “The world is ending and do I still have to work?” seven up, and then there's just not everything.
The younger generation in particular is not at all interested in the working world of the past, she also explained: "I think that you saw how the parents' or grandparents' generation worked themselves to pieces and still didn't have a nice pension anymore." should the pension then be paid in the future?” Linnemann replied. "The money doesn't come from heaven." He warned not to forget "that work is worth something".