Berline Jobs and Unemployment

Germany is Portland, Oregon. Smart people move there to retire. Unemployment is low. Benefits are high. The sauna is the epicenter of existence. Panic in Berlin:

The scramble to fill the gaping employment hole is causing Germany to throw many old traditions – including entrepreneurship – over the side. Angela Merkel’s coalition government is racing to introduce all-day schooling for primary and secondary students, so mothers can take full-time jobs (a notion that was all but taboo in socially conservative Germany just a few years ago).

And on Tuesday, I watched Ms. Merkel’s Labour Minister, Andrea Nahles, deliver a speech promising to end Germany’s coldness toward immigrants and turn it into a place that will seduce hundreds of thousands more migrant workers to arrive: “We need a culture of welcoming people…. We need to have an offer which shows them that we need them.”

Gone are the decades of hand-wringing about whether Germany is a “country of immigration” – employers need people. “In Rhineland-Palatinate, where I come from, we do not have theoretical debates about a shortage of skilled labour, we just have a shortage of skilled labour – we have 4 or 5 per cent unemployment, so we need migrants.”

The worm turns. Domestically, Germany can’t produce the talent it needs. Germany can’t produce enough children to keep the country going.

With a goal of economic efficiency, hard to beat Germany. With a goal of workforce development, hard to find a country worse at talent management. Blood trumps innovation.

Talent über alles. Berlin could be denser. Berlin could be more walkable. Berlin couldn’t be more backwards.

Photo Credit: Panic in Berlin/shutterstock