Why Germany needs more international software developers

By Jörg Kleis

Germany is a great country to work in. And there are over 100,000 open IT positions in Germany. Landing a job as a candidate from outside is not easy. Literally millions apply for jobs in Germany every year and only a small fraction gets an offer. In any case, it still makes sense to keep trying. That is also because Germany needs and will need more international software developers - for years and years to come. Here is why.

Germany has a shortage of tech professionals

Germany is considered a technologically advanced and industrialized country. Accordingly, most people are employed in manufacturing as well as retail, logistics, hospitality, or business services. Many of the areas are interdependent. Let us take the automotive industry, for example. There are thousands of suppliers that directly or indirectly do business with German car manufacturers. Why is all this important? Because Germany has a shortage of tech professionals and the economy heavily relies on skilled tech talent to come to Germany.

Germany is in the middle of its digital transformation

What is of interest for you is that while Germany may have a reputation for being a technologically advanced country, most German public authorities and companies are currently and will for the next decade be undergoing a major transformation to become more digital. This includes the need for innovations in areas like Industry 4.0, robotics, Internet of Things, Internet of Services or Big Data - and we are talking about most of the currently existing 3.48 million companies in Germany.

“The high demand for software developers shows the serious changes that are taking place in the course of digitalization in companies. Software is increasingly becoming part of the core business. This means that software development is moving into companies across all industries and is gaining massively in importance there”, says Achim Berg, who is the President of Bitkom, Germany’s leading business association for the IT industry.

Jobs in Germany for developers cover various areas

With all the negative effects of the pandemic slowly fading, economists and job market analysts are looking at almost the exact amount of vacancies for skilled people, especially software developers from before the COVID crisis. The most frequently sought experts are Java and JavaScript professionals, experts with MEAN and MERN stack skills as well as Angular, cloud experience and, of course, the necessary communication skills. At the same time, two thirds of surveyed HR managers expect the situation of companies not finding the right talent to worsen in the following years - not just for software developers and programmers, but also data engineers, data analysts and data scientists as well as testers, especially QA.

“The lack of IT experts no longer affects just the IT industry, but the entire economy as well as administration, authorities and science. As digitalization accelerates, the need for IT  

specialists will continue to rise sharply in the coming years. IT has significantly shorter innovation cycles than other company areas. A vacancy for half a year or more is a small  

eternity and can lead to projects being relocated to other countries or failing to materialize at all. Every vacant IT position causes costs in sales, puts a strain on companies' ability to innovate and slows down the necessary digital transformation. The lack of IT experts threatens the competitiveness of our entire economy”, says Achim Berg, President of Bitkom.

Why Germany is struggling to find skilled software engineers and IT professionals

You may be wondering why companies are struggling to find IT professionals to work for them. There are not enough IT professionals on the German labor market to begin with. The demand is high because there are not enough university graduates, and Germany is aging.

In fact, the overall demographic development of Germany does not look optimistic. Until  2060, Germany needs 260,000 immigrants - per year. This is in order to keep the social welfare system at its current performance level, i.e. healthcare, nursing insurance and pension fund. Not all these 260,000 immigrants are going to work as software developers or in IT, but it shows the increasing demand for skilled labor. It also means that the ones active in the labor market, including  passive professionals (i.e. those not actively seeking new employment, but theoretically available to fill a vacancy) can ask for relatively high salaries compared to the rest of the workforce.

Germany implemented a new immigration law for software developers

All this led to the implementation of a new and more liberal immigration law by the German government in 2020 to attract foreign talent, especially software developers from outside the European Union to come work in Germany. Visa processes are easier, work permits issued faster. All that tech professionals require is an official offer in the form of a work contract which they can hand in at the German embassy to apply for their visa.

This is also why Germany is slowly diversifying. The country has already become and will keep becoming more international. According to the Federal Employment Agency, the number of foreigners working in IT has grown over the last years, but it is still comparably low in absolute numbers. 78.000 IT specialists, i.e. 10% of all staff employed in IT in Germany (780.000) have a foreign background. However, that number has grown by 17% over the past years while the percentage of German IT professionals has only risen by about 5%. This shows us there is a trend in favor of immigration into the IT sector.

The countries of origin of most tech talents are Italy, Spain, France, Poland and Austria from within the EU. From outside the EU most people have come to Germany from India, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, China, the Balkan states and the United States. Pakistan, but also Egypt are also countries from where applicants are starting to receive more job offers than in the past.

Our coaching program helps software developers find a job in Germany

Only a small fraction of international applicants land their dream job while the vast majority is rejected. From our experience this is not  because they are not good enough or not a good fit, but because they do not strategize, present themselves right or simply do not know the specifics of the  German labor market or intercultural communication.

For more than five years we have been working as recruiters and headhunters and helped job applicants find jobs in Germany. We know the pitfalls, the mistakes that  are being made – and can be avoided – and, of course, the expectations of German  companies when it comes to hiring. We want to help more people to be better prepared and job-ready when they plan to come, work, and live in Germany. If you’re interested in learning more about how findajobingermany.de can help you find your job as a software developer, Data Scientist or Tester you are invited to watch our free online training video.