Germany has often been called a nation of poets and philosophers. Yet it is also a land of invention and innovation. Many essential products of the modern world are based on German discoveries. This story of technological ingenuity stretches from the automobile and the X-ray machine to headache tablets and rotor blades for wind turbines. Today, the country remains a centre of innovation, with a host of German companies from diverse sectors operating at the very cutting edge of technology.
Part of this is the increasing digitisation of industry, which is also widely referred to in Germany as “Industrie 4.0”. Germany is investing ever more heavily in intelligent technologies and innovative digital applications to stay competitive in an international market. There is a current drive to promote the important issues of intelligent networks and digitisation, for example in the energy sector. This is why IT specialists are particularly sought-after and have good career prospects on the German labour market.
Scientists and IT specialists
The acronym STEM refers to the fields of knowledge - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - that are of vital importance in this context. Although the great majority of STEM jobs are to be found in the private sector, the state also provides for employment in this field, by funding a whole range of world-class scientific and technological research institutes such as the Max Planck Society and the Fraunhofer Society.
A shortage of STEM graduates
It is not just the research institutes that are looking for well-qualified, new staff. Industry, too, is finding it increasingly hard to secure graduates with a degree in STEM subjects. In addition to engineers, there is also a substantial demand for scientists, mathematicians, and IT experts. For it is not only German carmakers and engineering companies that are among the very best in the world: some of the global players in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries are likewise from Germany. And the same is true of the German biotech and nanotech sectors. In all of these areas, the demand for first-rate scientists is consistently high.
Similarly, many of the larger companies from throughout the German economy need IT specialists to perform a range of tasks. These include programming advanced machine-control systems, writing company software, ensuring the security of complex systems, and managing the ever larger field of online applications. Mathematicians are also in great demand, particularly in banks and insurance companies.
No matter which area – job prospects for graduates in the STEM subjects are favourable in Germany. Indeed, in recent years, German companies have been unable to recruit anything like the number of scientists, mathematicians, and IT experts needed to fill vacant positions. Compared with typical graduates of other disciplines, STEM graduates are much more likely to be offered a permanent contract when entering the job market and have a significantly higher earnings potential. Average starting salaries for STEM graduates are between €35,000 and €40,000 a year. After 10 years of professional experience, salary levels rise to an average of about €70,000.
If you have a degree from your home country in one of the STEM fields, you may apply to have your degree verified by the Central Office for Foreign Education (ZAB). This will permit you to show on your job applications which German educational qualification your degree corresponds to. Further details are available at www.kmk.org.
The Fraunhofer Society
Organization for applied research in Europe (German, English)