Stay Informed

In an era of digitalization, knowledge is always at the tip of our fingers. However, so is a lot of disinformation and it can get overwhelming to know which is which.

So to help you stay informed we summarized the most important aspects of why Germany needs international students, and why those students oftentimes struggle when they do decide to come here. 

For beginners, the argument can be split into three main aspects: 

Demographic Changes and the Missing Workforce

By 2036, approximately 12.9 million workers are going to reach retirement age

The baby boomer generation significantly impacts Germany’s labor supply, with the largest cohorts (born between 1957 and 1969) retiring within the next 15 years. Around 12.9 million economically active individuals will likely retire by 2036, representing nearly 30% of the labor force available in 2021.

SourceDestatis (2022)

Age Distribution in Germany

Source: Destatis (2023)

Some forecast that the German labor market could be short as many as 7 million workers by 2035

By April 2022, Germany already lacked 320.000 STEM experts and enrollment rates in STEM degrees decreased by 6% within one year.

Source: DW (2023)

Nearly half of all companies in Germany are already missing skilled workers

In 2023, a shortage of skilled workers hindered the business operations of 42 % of companies. The scarcity of skilled workers is historically high. Shortage of skilled workers is evident in all sectors of the economy, most notably in the service sector, where 47 % of companies report a lack of skilled professionals.

SourceKfW-ifo-Fachkräftebarometer (2023)

Germany's Need for Migrants

Germany has been struggling with a birth deficit since 1972.

Birth deficit means that more people die than are born. This difference was a staggering 327.000 in 2022. Birth rates surged in the late 1950s, peaking at nearly 1.4 million newborns in 1964, followed by a sharp decline after the baby boom. In 2022, only a little over half as many babies – 739.000 – were born. 

SourceDestatis (2023)

Demographic challenges were alleviated by the younger age profile of immigrants.

An icon of a person struggling to lift a heavy boulder

This has obvious implications for the age distribution of the population and the strength of the workforce. This is worrisome, as  

the German pension system is dependent on the size of the workforce.

Therefore, this shortage may also lead to an increased tax burden as more pensions have to be paid for longer periods by fewer working people. This may put the pension system at risk.

SourceBundeszentrale für politische Bildung (2020)

Due to significant emigration from Germany and the declining birth rates, Germany will need a notable amount of migrants in order to have 400,000 new citizens each year and thus maintain its workforce.

According to economist Monika Schnitzer, 

Germany needs 1.5 million immigrants per year.

Source: Spiegel (2023)

Source: Wissenschaft weltoffen (2017-2023)

As the graph shows, international students contribute significantly to this necessary and welcome influx.

Percentage of Migrants

25,0 %

Labour Force

21,7 %


20,3 %

Start-Up Founders

Source: Migrant Founders Monitor (2021)

Germany Benefits Financially from Migrants

In 2012, foreigners in Germany paid an average of €3.300 more in taxes and social contributions than they received in state benefits, resulting in a total surplus of €22 billion.

Source: Bertelmann Stiftung(2014)

Germany's Unattractiveness and the Problems Migrants Face

Despite Germany desperately needing skilled workers to immigrate to the country, once expats and international students arrive, they face a variety of challenges. 

Some of the most prevalent barriers include: 

Social Isolation

In a survey conducted among expats, 

Germany ranked last out of 52 countries

in the categories of living, digital infrastructure, language and administration.

1 out of 10 have no social network and do not feel at home

Every 2nd respondent said it’s difficult to make friends

Every 3rd person agreed that Germans are unfriendly to foreigners

Source: Spiegel (2023)

Biggest Challenges for International Students during the visa process

Source: DEGIS ISG Survey (2022)