The growing importance of the knowledge-based economy and continued deindustrialisation will generate increased demand for qualified and highly-qualified workers.
However, assuming that current demographic and educational trends persist, domestic labour supply will not be able to keep up with this shift in demand. A generally shrinking labour force, accompanied by stagnation in the trend towards better qualifications, is likely to create acute shortages of skilled workers. Meanwhile, ageing populations will also create a significant rise in the demand for healthcare workers with various skills levels. Going back to the typology of labour shortages, we can say that future gaps will be characterised by qualitative mismatch, exacerbated by aggregate shortages. These types of shortages may be further aggravated by continued low occupational and regional mobility on the part of domestic workers, especially in low-skilled work.
A report commissioned by the Immigration Council in 2004 listed 14 areas with labour shortages, including health (doctors, physiotherapists, pharmacists), engineers (machine and aeroplane construction, machine building technicians) and services (insurance experts, qualified trade representatives).
Dr. Christina Boswell is head of the Migration Research Group. The Migration Research Group is based at the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWA/ HWWI).
Prof. Dr. Thomas Straubhaar is the President of the HWWA/HWWI, and Professor of Economics at the University of Hamburg.