Auxiliary job despite training: Millions of employees are overqualified

Around every eighth employee who is subject to social security contributions in Germany has a job below their actual training level. This emerges from a response from the Federal Employment Agency to a request from the left in the Bundestag, which the German Press Agency in Berlin has received. At the end of last year, a total of 4.05 million employees subject to social security contributions were doing an activity with a level of difficulty below their qualification. That was 12 percent of the 33.74 million employees subject to social security contributions. One in five of the mini jobbers was formally overqualified: 911,000 of them worked below their qualification level.

According to experts and companies, a shortage of skilled workers and young talent, especially in scientific and technical professions, endangers the German economy. How the shortage of skilled workers actually works, however, there are always different views, especially when it comes to working conditions, training and immigration.

This counted people who had a professional qualification but only worked as a helper, i.e. simple routine work. That was around 2.57 million people at the end of 2019. In addition, there were 1.48 million with an academic degree who worked as helpers or specialists, i.e. who would not have formally required their technical college or university degree for their work.

Women and people in East Germany are disproportionately affected. For them, the proportions of employees with higher formal qualifications than necessary are in each case higher than that of men and people in western Germany.

At the same time, around one in eight employees has a job for which their formal qualifications are actually insufficient. At the end of last year, 2.87 million people without a vocational qualification were employed as skilled workers, experts or specialists. Such jobs usually require two to three years of vocational training, a master’s degree or even a technical college or university degree. In addition, there are 1.14 million who have a non-academic degree but would normally need a university degree for their work.

At the same time, the chairman of the Federal Employment Agency (BA), Detlef Scheele, warns of an increased shortage of skilled workers and also sees politics as an obligation. “The immigration of skilled workers to Germany is too low and continues to decline,” said Scheele to the newspapers of the “Funke media group” (Saturday). Scheele also called for a simplification of the “Work of Tomorrow Law” by Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD), which regulates the promotion of professional training in the face of structural change.

But what about all those who are employed below their formal qualifications? “Working under qualifications harms the job satisfaction of those affected and reduces their income,” said the left-wing MP Sabine Zimmermann, who had made the request in the Bundestag, the dpa. In fact, according to the data from the Federal Employment Agency, the average wage of skilled workers is 806 euros higher than the average wage of the helpers.

“The pandemic-related economic crisis and the ongoing economic transformation are making the situation even worse because hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs and more will lose their jobs,” said Zimmermann. In addition, skilled workers would be bound who would be desperately wanted elsewhere.


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