The wave of layoffs at US technology companies is causing the German economy to sit up. “They fire, we hire — you fire, we hire,” says Rainer Zugeh, the head of Human Resources at carmaker Volkswagen’s software subsidiary Cariad. “This is an opportunity for us.”
By 2030, approximately 40 million cars are expected to run on Cariad software. “We have several hundred vacancies: in the US, in Europe and in China,” Zuhor recruits and attracts potential new employees from Silicon Valley and other major centers of American technology giants such as Seattle and Texas. “Experienced technical professionals who are highly talented and have valuable skills – exactly the people we are looking for.”
The unbridled growth is over
High inflation and the threat of a recession make life difficult for America’s tech industry, spoiled by success. After years of almost uncontrolled growth, companies are preparing for lean years and staff are being cut back. Google mother Alphabet cuts 12,000 jobs worldwide, Microsoft wants to cut 10,000 jobs and Facebook mother Meta 11,000. A total of hundreds of thousands of jobs are at risk, according to industry experts.
“A warm invitation” to Bavaria
It often affects developers, engineers and other specialists who are badly needed in Germany. According to industry association Bitkom, there are 137,000 ICT positions open in all sectors. The Free State of Bavaria sees an opportunity because of the wave of redundancies on the other side of the Atlantic. “I cordially invite you to come and visit us in Bavaria!” Judith Gerlach, Minister of State for Digital Affairs, addresses potential applicants in English on LinkedIn’s career portal.
The Free State offers the best conditions for IT specialists with a highly innovative research environment and many interesting business partners – from startups to medium-sized companies to the Dax group. In addition, Bavaria offers a fantastic environment with a high recreational value. “Did I mention Octoberfest?” writes Gerlach, who also advertises for public sector IT specialists on employment protection and overtime pay.
Such lure offers are well received by many managers. “I wholeheartedly support your initiative!” writes the head of Lufthansa’s IT services provider, Olivier Krüger, under Gerlach’s LinkedIn post.
Bitkom director Bernhard Rohleder doubts whether this advertising will be successful. “The US is the promised land of IT,” he told Reuters news agency. “Moving IT specialists from the US to Germany is a difficult undertaking and promising only in isolated cases.” Many companies in the US therefore have a great need for IT knowledge, so that those affected usually have very good career opportunities in their own country. “In addition, Germany competes with many other countries in the search for IT specialists, who are geographically or linguistically the most obvious alternative for those affected by job losses from the US,” says Rohleder. And last but not least, taxes in Germany are high compared to the rest of the world. A move from the US across the pond should therefore not be very tempting financially for many.
“Bureaucracy crippling in Germany”
Managers also have doubts whether Germany is attractive enough for IT experts from California. Without more help from politicians, recruiting could be futile, warns Diana Stoleru of the Berlin startup Lendis: “The bureaucracy in Germany is absolutely paralyzing for most highly skilled workers when they first come into contact with it, especially if they don’t speak German . .” When it comes to a real initiative, an invite on LinkedIn is definitely not enough. “But it could be a really accelerated program with a lot of support for highly skilled migrants.”
In the end, the doubters may be wrong, advocates of the recruitment campaigns believe. The mood has turned. Due to job security, Germany is now also considered attractive for employees abroad, says an expert from the IT scene. “Some envy our collective agreements.”
I’m Ben Stock, a journalist and author at Today Times Live. I specialize in economic news and have been working in the news industry for over five years. My experience spans from local journalism to international business reporting. In my career I’ve had the opportunity to interview some of the world’s leading economists and financial experts, giving me an insight into global trends that is unique among journalists.