“Berliner Dialog”

How should immigration be regulated? Is Germany attractive for highly qualified top executives and talents? How will the nation succeed in transforming itself into a country of immigration? What cultural changes do we need? At the “Berliner Dialog” on 13 March 2019, Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD), Marcus A. Wassenberg, CFO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems AG (RRPS), and Dr Benjamin Parameswaran, Managing Partner at DLA Piper UK LLP, discussed these topics.

The question of the evening was: “Of what benefit is the law on the immigration of skilled workers”? After some words of welcome by Senior Partner Olaf Arndt, the speakers got straight into the topic of the challenges facing labour policy today. Katharina Hamberger, a correspondent with the Berlin studio of Deutschlandradio, chaired the conversation and the lively debate with more than 50 guests from politics, business, research and society.

Germany needs more qualified immigrants

Headlines about a scarcity of young people going into vocational training have become more and more frequent in recent years. At the same time, there are few topics that are discussed as heatedly in society as the immigration of skilled workers.

The German Bundestag currently has two draft laws to decide on. Wassenberg made it clear that more liberal regulations are long overdue. “We need skilled workers, and we can no longer find them in Germany.” The attractiveness of Germany as a business location must be secured in the long term. “For this we need more collective agreements, not fewer,” said the Chief Financial Officer. For globally active enterprises such as RRPS, it is already part of everyday life and it goes without saying that German is not the only language spoken in the company: Its employees come from 55 different countries.

Talents, Technology and Tolerance

Legal regulations are important, but they are not enough to make Germany attractive for international skilled workers. “We need the three Ts to prosper,” says Wassenberg: “Talents, technology and tolerance”. Only a few immigrants would come alone – the attractiveness for families would have to be considered, just as much in the provinces as in Berlin.

Parameswaran emphasised the social role of companies in this debate. They should not only clearly foster a welcoming culture, but also explain what can happen to companies without immigration. “The successful recruitment of workers ultimately secures German jobs,” said Parameswaran.

Policy-makers are open to further proposals

Heil highlighted what is new in terms of immigration, in particular the fact that not only highly qualified specialists are targeted, but also skilled personnel from all professions. They are allowed to come to Germany if they can prove that they have a permanent job or are looking for one. During this time they have to pay their own way. The Federal Government focusses primarily on countries outside the European Union.

What in Germany is called “employment toleration” is also to be regulated: Rejected but tolerated asylum seekers in the German sense who take up qualified training or are well integrated and secure their own livelihood through sustainable employment are to be given the opportunity to stay. The situation that refugees first receive extensive training, only then to be deported is wrong in the opinion of the Federal Minister of Labour. Heil also expressed willingness to talk to entrepreneurs again about suggestions for improvement.

Further impressions of the event can be found at politik & kommunikation.


The “Berliner Dialog”, hosted by Deekeling Arndt/AMO, is an established dialogue series in Berlin. At regular intervals, we bring members of society together with opinion leaders from politics, business, associations and research on our premises. In addition to Hubertus Heil, guests included Stefan Kapferer, Jens Spahn and Ulrich Grillo.