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Engineering Labour Force in GermanyEngineering Labour Force
What Employers Need to Know
Rates of Pay
Where to Recruit
Germany is home to Europes largest engineering labour force, with more than 1.94 million workers in engineering-related occupations: there are about one million engineers, 926,000 technologists and technicians and 18,000 geologists.
Germany has the second-highest number of engineering workers per capita of any country in Europe (behind Finland); engineering workers represented about 4.7 per cent of the German labour force in 2010, which is higher than that of Alberta at about 4.1 per cent in 2006.
Germany has one of the oldest engineering-related workforces in Europe. Fewer than a quarter of engineers are under the age of 35 (compared with 29 per cent in the U.K., 32 per cent in France and 49 per cent in Ireland). The German engineering labour force has been shaped by a lower percentage of young workers choosing to enter careers in engineering-related fields.1
During the 20072009 economic crisis, the German economy outperformed those of other European nations. Unemployment in Germany has been declining, dropping from a high of almost 12 per cent in 2005 to about seven per cent in the summer of 2011. Unemployment rates among engineers have followed a similar pattern, with sustained declines in unemployment for more than a decade. As of 2009, the unemployment rate for engineers in Germany was 3.6 per cent, down from 8.6 per cent in 2005. (See Figure 1.)
Engineers educated in Germany are likely to speak English, although proficiency levels will vary according to an individuals level of post-secondary education and professional need to maintain English skills. In Germany, English is taught from the fifth grade through the end of secondary education. During university, engineering students continue to learn English and a portion of coursework includes technical lectures in English. Students are encouraged (though not required) to study in a foreign country for at least one semester, and are encouraged to use English during study and in writing their bachelors or masters thesis.
By comparison, those who work as engineering technologists or technicians are somewhat less likely to be fluent in English. Alberta employers may find it difficult to locate workers in these categories whose English skills are sufficient to qualify them for certification with the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET).
Likelihood of Immigrating
Recently, Germany has seen a shortage of engineers and engineering-related workers. Engineer Monitor,2 a monthly labour market publication produced by the largest national German engineering association, Verein Deutscher Ingenieure (The Association of German Engineers, or VDI), reported in June 2011 that the number of vacant positions for engineers in Germany had reached a record high of 76,400, the highest since record keeping began in 2000.
Engineering Labour Force
1See VDI Annual Report, 2010. 2See www.vdi.de/41790.0.html.
Engineers educated in Germany are likely to speak English, although proficiency levels will vary according to an individuals level of post-secondary education and professional need to maintain English skills.
Figure 1. Unemployment Rates Among Engineers in Germany, 19972009
Source: VDI Engineer Monitor.
Figure 2. Positive Features of a Company as Reported by Engineers in Germany
Source: 2010 Joint Survey of Engineers, VDI.
There are ample career opportunities for engineering workers in Germany and few economic reasons for them to seek work abroad, although the 2010 Joint Study of Engineers reported that low levels of job satisfaction may motivate some to change employers. The study found that German engineers place the greatest value on their work environment, followed by their level of interest in their work and the work-life balance offered by the employer. Few said they viewed salary as an important factor when selecting an employer (see Figure 2).3
Foreign workers are more likely to migrate internationally, having done so before, and those workers represented 5 per cent of the German engineering labour force in 2010. Non-EU citizens represented about 3 per cent of the engineering workforce. Statistics from the Federal Employment Agency reveal that in engineering-related occupations, foreign workers represent a higher portion of the employed labour force for chemical engineers (7.9 per cent), electrical engineers (5.4 per cent) and mining and metallurgical engineers (5.2 per cent).4
3See 2010 Joint Study of Engineers (U.K., France, Germany). 4Note: Figures from the Federal Employment Agency exclude contract workers, self-employed individuals and unemployed workers.
Electrical andElectronics Engineers
Civil Engineers andArchitects
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80%
Share of Engineers
Alberta employers who want to recruit engineering workers in Germany are advised to use the terms and titles for specific occupations. (See Table 2.)
Engineers and Geoscientists
According to Alberta law, to practice engineering, geology or geophysics independently in Alberta, a worker must be licensed by the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA). Unlicensed workers may practice engineering, but only under the supervision of a licensed engineer. Similar rules apply to internationally educated engineers. They may be permitted to work in Alberta without a license, provided that they work under the supervision of a licensed Professional Engineer (P.Eng). In order to practice engineering, geology or geophysics independently, internationally educated workers must have their credentials evaluated by APEGA to determine whether or not they meet the requirements for licensure.
Regardless of academic background, all foreign applicants must:
1. Take the professional practice exam and show relevant knowledge of Albertan law and ethics
2. Obtain one year of Canadian experience, though they can apply and gain conditional approval before doing so
3. Be competent in English4. Provide character references5. Possess Canadian citizenship or Permanent
Resident status; an applicant not possessing either may apply as a Foreign Licensee
To learn more about APEGAs licensing requirements, see www.apega.ca.
Technicians and Technologists
Technicians and technologists do not need licenses to practice in Alberta, but may voluntarily apply for certification from ASET. ASET uses a competency-based evaluation to assess the qualifications of internationally educated individuals. Successful applicants must have an appropriate combination of post-secondary education in their field and practical experience.
Many European bachelors degrees are awarded after three years. Workers holding them would likely qualify for technologist or technician certification with ASET, while those with lower qualifications may qualify at the technician level. Candidates seeking ASET certification generally require:
1. At least two years of professional experience, including one year of Canadian experience
2. Successful completion of the professional practices exam
3. Three verifiable references 4. The ability to work in English 5. Canadian Citizenship or Permanent
To learn more about ASETs certification requirements, see www.aset.ab.ca.
What Employers Need to Know
In order to practice engineering, geology or geophysics independently, internationally educated workers must have their credentials evaluated by APEGA to determine whether or not they meet the requirements for licensure.
Table 1. German Engineering Titles and Related Professional Organizations
Canadian Engineering Occupations Similar Occupations/Titles in Germany Professional Organizations
Engineering Managers Technischer Geschftsfhrer (Technical Director)
The Association of German Engineers (VDI)
Civil Engineers Bauingenieure (Civil Engineer)
Mechanical Engineers Maschinenbau-Ingenieure (Mechanical Engineer)
Electrical and Electronics Engineers Elektroingenieure (Electrical Engineer)
Chemical Engineers Chemieingenieure (Chemical Engineer)
Industrial and Manufacturing Engineers
Produktionsingenieure (Production Engineer)
Metallurgical and Materials Engineers Ingenieure der Werkstofftechnik (Materials Engineer)
Mining Engineers Bergbau-Ingenieure (Mining Engineer)
Petroleum Engineers Verfahrensingenieure (Process Engineer)
Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians
Bauingenieur, Bautechniker, Technischer Systemplaner, or Industriemechaniker
Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag (DIHK) or the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce assist in organizing and setting curriculum for vocational training programs at Facharbeiter and Meister level.
The Bundesinstitut fr Berufsbildung (BIBB) or The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training focuses on establishing curriculum for Facharbeiter programs at the Berufs