Cabinet backs foreign credential recognition

The German government on Wednesday backed a new law making it easier to have foreign credentials recognized in order to help provide qualified workers for Germany’s booming economy.

Cabinet backs foreign credential recognition
Photo: DPA

“This law is an overdue sign that we respect the qualifications of others,” said Education Minister Annette Schavan after receiving the support of her cabinet colleagues.

Her ministry estimates recognizing foreign credentials could provide up to 300,000 highly qualified workers for key industries by utilizing underemployed people already living in Germany.

The German government expects the changes would particularly benefit qualified tradesmen, scientists, engineers and medical workers.

According to the draft law, every person who had qualifications from abroad would be entitled to have them assessed by German officials within three months.

Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle said German business would also see a positive impact from the law.

“Recognizing foreign job credentials is an important contribution to finding desperately needed skilled workers,” he said. “This will strengthen Germany as place to do business.”

Brüderle said the measure would help better integrate immigrants into German society.

With failing unemployment and a rapidly ageing population, employers in Germany complain it is extremely difficult to find qualified workers, especially scientists and engineers.

According to the head of the German chamber of commerce and industry, Hans Heinrich Driftmann, Germany is in urgent need of about 400,000 engineers and other skilled workers.

The cabinet’s decision came amid an ongoing debate in Europe’s most populous country about immigrants after Chancellor Angela Merkel said that multiculturalism without better integration “had failed totally.”

The draft legislation will need to be cleared in parliament before becoming law.

DAPD/AFP/The Local/mry

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Swedish economy to grind to a halt as interest rates kick in

Sweden faces an economic slump next year that will see economic growth grind to a complete stop, Sweden's official government economics forecaster, has warned.

Swedish economy to grind to a halt as interest rates kick in

Sweden’s National Institute of Economic Research, which is tasked with tracking the business cycle for the Swedish government, warned in its quarterly forecast on Wednesday that greater than expected energy prices, interest rate rises, and stubborn inflation rates, Sweden was facing a significant downturn. 

The institute has shaved 1.6 percentage points off its forecast for growth in 2023, leaving the economy at a standstill, contracting -0.1 percent over the year. 

The institute now expects unemployment of 7.7 percent in 2023, up from a forecast of 7.5 percent given when in its last forecast in June.

“We can see that households are already starting to reign in their consumption,” said Ylva Hedén Westerdahl, the institute’s head of forecasting, saying this was happening “a little earlier than we had thought”. 

“We thought this would have happened when electricity bills went up, and interest rates went up a little more,” she continued. 

The bank expects household consumption to contract in 2023, something that she said was “quite unusual” and had not happened since Sweden’s 1990s economic crisis, apart from in the immediate aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This was partly down to a five percent reduction in real salaries in Sweden in 2022, taking into account inflation, which the institute expects to be followed by a further two percent fall in real salaries in 2023. 

If the incoming Moderate-led government goes ahead with plans to reimburse consumers for high power prices, however, this would counterbalance the impact of inflation, leaving Swedish households’ purchasing power unchanged. 

The institute said it expected inflation to average 7.7 percent this year and 4.6 percent in 2023, both higher than it had forecast earlier.

Sweden’s Riksbank central bank this month hike its key interest rate by a full percentage point, after inflation hit 9 percent in August, the biggest single hike since the 1990s.