BERLIN, Jan 30 (Reuters) – Faced with a tight labor market and a shortage of workers with key software engineering skills, some German companies are seeing layoffs of thousands in Silicon Valley as an opportunity to recruit top talent.
The US West Coast has long been a major destination for ambitious software engineers looking to work in the highest-paying, most elite corners of their profession, but mass layoffs have created a pool of job seekers that Germany is eager to tap.
“They fire, we hire,” said Rainer Zugehoer, chief people officer at Cariad, the software subsidiary of automaker Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE ). “We have hundreds of open positions in the US, Europe and China.”
Spooked by the prospect of inflation and a recession, Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL.O), Microsoft (MSFT.O) and Facebook parent Meta (META.O) announced combined layoffs of nearly 40,000 jobs.
While Germany is also teetering on the brink of recession, its companies have grown slowly in recent years and there are huge technological leaps ahead in a country notorious for still handling business by fax.
Germany, which has one of the world’s most aging populations, has a huge workforce gap: 137,000 IT jobs are unfilled, according to IT industry organization Bitkom.
Local authorities are stepping up the push as the government is simplifying immigration rules and offering the prospect of easy citizenship to attract skilled would-be migrants.
“I would like to cordially invite you to move to Bavaria,” Judith Gerlach, the minister for digitization in Germany’s wealthiest region, wrote in a LinkedIn post to the recently sacked.
Especially with euro-dollar parity, few European companies pay rates that can compete with the hundreds of thousands of dollars that California’s most successful companies offer, but some hope for cheaper medical care compared to hotspots like San Francisco Health care and lower costs can help.
“Did I mention Oktoberfest?” Gerlach added, adding Munich’s famous Oktoberfest to strong labor protections that could appeal to the newly unemployed.
Some are skeptical, with Bitkom’s Bernhard Rohleder pointing out that Germany is not only competing with other countries for the best talent, but also with the home countries of potential talent.
Germany’s penchant for red tape could be another challenge: companies have reported months-long dates to secure new hires’ work permits.
“German bureaucracy is a complete disadvantage for most highly qualified employees, especially if they don’t speak German,” said Diana Stoleru of Berlin-based start-up Lendis.
Written by Thomas Escritt, Edited by Mark Potter
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