One Year of Corona – Review of and Prospects for the Labour Market

Joint press release by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Employment Agency

12 Mar 2021 | Press Release No. 9

Germany has been living with the Corona pandemic for one year. On this occasion, the Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Hubertus Heil, and the Chairman of the Federal Employment Agency, Detlef Scheele, take stock of the past year and identify prospects for the labour market.

Hubertus Heil, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs: “No one had a blueprint for the deepest economic crisis of our generation. We are still in crisis mode, but at the same time we have to set the right course for labour and social security in the future. That is why I am fighting with all my strength against the return of mass unemployment. Short-time work is a very good instrument for this. Short-time work actually works, comes across effective, and safeguards jobs, employees’ incomes and the existence of companies, as a recent study by the Research Institute for the Future of Work shows. We were able to save millions of jobs with short-time work. At the same time, the path back into the labour market has become rockier, especially for the long-term unemployed. With the Social Labour Market, we have been able to place around 55,000 long-term unemployed people in jobs subject to social insurance contributions since 2019. We will continue to expand this commitment, because it pays off – especially in times of crisis. There are also more obstacles in the way for prospective vocational trainees at the moment. But we will urgently need these skilled workers in the coming years. In order to secure vocational training positions for as many young people as possible, we have to mobilise all our forces already in the spring. With the vocational training bonus and our expanded ‘protective umbrella for vocational training positions’, we are supporting companies in this. I call on small businesses in particular to continue training and to use our vocational training bonus to do so.”

Detlef Scheele, Chairman of the Board of the Federal Employment Agency: “The fact that the German labour market has remained comparatively robust overall in the face of the biggest crisis in post-war history is mainly thanks to short-time work. At the peak, we have secured the jobs of three million people and massively stabilised the economy. Up to 11,500 colleagues from all areas of the Federal Employment Agency ensured that the money reached the companies quickly and reliably during the peak phase of the first lockdown. However, coping with this crisis will keep the Federal Employment Agency busy for a long time to come. At the same time, we must already set the course for the future: The increasing demand for skilled workers will dominate the German labour market after the pandemic. Companies can counter this by qualifying their employees and training their own young skilled workers. We can support them financially in doing so. Likewise, we have the tools to effectively guide people through the transformation with guidance and support.”