Recruitment processes in Germany

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Lecture A. Mergener

Employment opportunities for different groups of employees in the German labour market

Alexandra Mergener, research associate at the German Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) and visiting researcher at Céreq, DEEVA (March - June 2018) presented key findings from two of her projects.

In the first part of her presentation, Alexandra Mergener talked about influencing factors in the hiring of foreign skilled workers, which was an element of her now-completed PhD thesis. The focus is on the German labour market, because a prospering economy and demographic change have increased the number of vacancies, particularly in intermediate and high-skill occupations. In order to minimise these labour shortages, the German government has introduced various measures to facilitate labour market access for foreign skilled workers (e.g. the Federal Recognition Act (1), the EU Blue Card (2) and the New Employment Regulation (3). To evaluate the employment opportunities for foreign skilled workers, Alexandra Mergener analysed quantitative employer survey data using a factorial survey experiment. The findings revealed that immigrants are more likely to be recruited in understaffed occupations and firms that are anticipating future skill shortages. Furthermore, language skills and country-specific work experience substantially improve immigrants' chances of being hired. Nevertheless, in recruitment processes foreign qualifications are considered inferior.

In the second part of Alexandra Mergeners' presentation, she outlined the changes in the German higher education system after the Bologna Reform and investigated the recruitment chances of holders of bachelor's and master's degrees competing for jobs with workers with initial or further vocational education and training (VET) certificates. Her analysis is again based on a quantitative employer survey, in which possible hiring situations were assessed by personnel decision-makers within a factorial survey experiment. Generally, the recruitment chances of persons with different qualifications depend on the tasks involved in the job and the level of responsibility. In the case of tasks requiring a high level of specialisation and expertise or planning and process-related tasks, holders of bachelor's degrees were more likely to be hired directly after graduation than holders of further VET certificates without additional work experience. However, one year of work experience following completion of training increased the chances of further VET certificate holders, so that the initial benefit of a bachelor's degree can be offset. After three additional years of work experience, there are no longer any differences between further VET certificates and bachelor's degrees.

As part of her research stay at Céreq, Alexandra Mergener will extend her previous research to give it an international focus by investigating the labour market success of higher education graduates in France.


(1) The Federal Recognition Act is a "Law to improve the assessment and recognition of professional and vocational education and training qualifications acquired abroad”. It entered into force on 1 April 2012.

(2) The EU blue card is to ease entry and residence of third-country nationals for highly-qualified employment (implementing the EU's Council Directive 2009/50/EC).

(3)The New Employment Regulation,which came into force in July 2013, applies for occupational fields not requiring an academic degree.