London: Germany is suffering from a chronic shortage of skilled engineers and could be forced to recruit more from overseas to sustain growth and innovation, according to a new industry study.
Bosch, the German engineering major, recruited 1,500 engineers from India last year and nearly 1,000 from China to pursue its expansion plans in the emerging markets.
Germany had 70,000 unfilled engineering posts last year at a cost to the economy of 7 billion euros a year, according to a recent study for the German Engineering Federation (VDI).
Franz Fehrenbach, Bosch chief executive, believes that by early 2009, it would have more staff in China and India -- 23,000 and 20,000 respectively -- than in any other country apart from Germany.
“We are really facing a dramatic situation. This is the key problem of the future,” Fehrenbach told The Guardian.
The company’s head of industrial relations Wolfgang Malchow said: “We need more engineers. It affects other west European countries so the solution may be to hire them from abroad but this can only be temporary.”
Hans-Peter Klos, managing director of the Cologne-based German Economics Institute, which carried out the study, said there were now almost 100,000 vacancies.
German executives believe that the growing skills shortages in Europe are a bigger problem than the strength of the euro or the US-led economic slowdown.
Fehrenbach said Bosch would be unable to sustain its hi-tech “clusters” in Germany without an adequate supply of engineers.