The annual Fachkräftemangel

The annual computer show in Hannover, CeBIT, usually brings calls of “Fachkräftemangel” in the German news.  In fact, it has been that way for at least the past nine years – or so it seems.

“Fachkräftemangel” means a lack of qualified, trained – or what ever you want to call them – specialists.

And as in previous years, a whole debate starts up about taking on foreign workers to fill the jobs, that this apparently leaves unfilled.

Now, it is not as if I am against people from other countries working in Germany (which would make me rather hypocritical if I was), but I do question the reasoning behind it, both from a business and a social point of view. [Read more…]

Hartz IV

Hartz IV was selected by the Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache as the “Wort des Jahres” (Word of the Year) in 2004.

Hartz IV is the name given to the financial support for the long-term unemployed.  The term derives from the name of the person who led the commission to reform, amongst other things, unemployment benefits.

The length of time that someone is unemployed before they stop receiving normal unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld) and receive Hartz IV instead depends on a number of factors such as their age and the length of time that they have paid unemployment insurance (Arbeitslosenversicherung).

The amount of support that someone receives depends on factors such as the size of the flat that is considered to be large enough for them, any savings they may have, how many people are dependent on their income, etc.

For example, the allowance for food is set at 4EUR per person per day, which led to the publication of a so-called “Hartz IV menu” earlier this year.

To hear a simple explanation and a short discussion in German, listen to the podcast:

(Press the “play” button to listen to the podcast)

Download the MP3 file | Subscribe to the podcast

Job losses at PIN

It’s always sad when large companies have to lay off their workers.  When I read about factories being closed and workers being laid off, this is often down to mis-managmenet or financial considerations (eg. Nokia in Bochum).

In the case of PIN, it is an entirely different case. The PIN group is a competitor to Deutsche Post, but the playing field is anything but level.  PIN has to charge VAT (MwSt) on its services, Deutsche Post does not.  Then they have to pay a minimum wage for the postal industry, but did not have a say in setting it in the first place.

I think starting up an alternative postal service was a courageous step, and it’s a shame to see it go download because of red tape and the recent decisions of the German government.

Although I will miss one thing: the PIN employee who used to ring our doorbell at 8am on a Saturday morning in order to deliver post to one of our neighbours!

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