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Germany – Temporary labour to grow but image problem remains

18 June 2012

Labour market experts predict good growth rates for temporary staffing in Germany but opportunities may be restricted to the highly qualified and academics, researchers warned.

At an employers’ event hosted by the German association of employment agencies (BAP) last week,   Holger Schäfer from the Cologne Institute of Economic Research said that the “staffing industry will continue to grow” but he cautioned that only those with high qualification are likely to benefit from this.

This comes after the BAP last week criticised politicians in the country over their plans to further tighten regulations in the staffing industry.

Other speakers, such as Dr. Ulrich Walwei from the Institute of Employment Research (IAB) also warned that the temporary staffing industry in the country was “economically vulnerable”. He argued that temporary employment may be a springboard for the unemployed but the industry had failed to provide a “bridge” to other sectors as more could still be done.

The German labour market has developed positively over the last few years with unemployment falling from over 5 million in 2005 to under 3 million this year. Flexible employment has become an integral part of the jobs markets since deregulations have made it easier for staffing firms to operate.  

But the industry still does not enjoy the best of reputations. Last week the German media focused on a report discussing the low pay and wage dumping of agency workers in the childcare and educational sector. And as a result of this, one of the larger parties in Germany, the left-wing party Die Linke, has now demanded in Parliament to ban agency work in the educational sector.  

But an editor at the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine, Sven Astheimer, said at last week’s employers’ event that it is still “difficult to sell” good news about temporary employment in Germany although the media frenzy on “scandals” in the industry was starting to quiet down. 

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