The labour market in Germany
With an unemployment rate on the rise and an economy hit hard by the economic and financial crisis of early 2009, it is particularly difficult for foreign nationals to find jobs in Germany. However, with an ever growing industrial production, large exportations worldwide and quality working conditions, Germany remains an attractive destination for those wishing to start or continue a career abroad.
The unemployment rate is approaching 9% of the total workforce in Germany, mainly affecting rural areas and eastern regions of the country. Major German cities like Berlin, Munich or Frankfurt centralize most economic activities and a large part of the industry and service workforce.
Fluency in German is an essential prerequisite to take up employment in the country, unless you are detached from a foreign company established in Germany, or employed in an agriculture or unskilled job. A good knowledge of English is also desirable if you want to work in a large exports-based company.
Best job opportunities are to be found in the tertiary sector, health and social services and in the industry.
For working holiday visa holders and foreign students, job opportunities are available in the tourism sector (winter and summer) and in several seasonal activities such as picking fruits or grape harvesting.
Regarding working conditions in Germany, the legal working time is set at 48 hours maximum per week. Collective labour agreements in German companies may reduce the working time to 35 to 40 hours per week. There is no minimum wage per se in Germany, each enterprisecompany sets its own salary scales according to collective labor agreements and based on ability, skills and experiences of each worker. In practice, several building trades have introduced minimum wages. Note that the average wage in Germany is of about € 2,000 per month.
German employees benefit from 24 holidays per year, bank holidays and weekends excluded, but may benefit from additional holidays if specified in their employment contract or in the collective agreements.
For more information about employment in Germany, or to find out more about the legal framework and the latest labor legislation, visit the "Bundes Agentur für Arbeit" (National Employment Agency) website at http://www.arbeitsagentur.de/ or the "Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziale" (German Ministry of Labor) at http://www.bmas.de/.
Guide section: Work
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