Junge Frau in einem Kühllabor

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Back for the future” – this is the motto that brought together some 190 members of networks from all over Germany that seek to repatriate and attract skilled professionals. They met up for a digital meeting on 4 May 2021 at the joint invitation of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. At present, the challenges confronted by Germany’s New Länder are compounded by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. The event is designed to promote networking between individual initiatives, including the sharing of best practices.

Says State Secretary Björn Böhning: “Back for the future means that to take a step back can actually result in a big step forward – in your career, your personal life, and for the benefit of the region. In the context of economic recovery, it is and will continue to be essential to recruit qualified professionals. Strengthening social cohesion will also become even more important in the future than it already is. In the current situation especially, the work of repatriation initiatives and initiatives to attract skilled professionals cannot be overestimated. Nobody has a blueprint for this. In many cases, local solutions will be the quickest way to solve challenges, both old and new. These solutions should then be passed on and rolled out. This is why we in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs are supporting networking between regional initiatives, especially via the network office of the initiative for New Quality of Work (Neue Qualität der Arbeit).”

Says Marco Wanderwitz, Federal Government Commissioner for the New Federal States: “We want to continue to foster economic development in the New Länder, even though their population of working age is shrinking. This is why we need to fully exploit all the options available when it comes to attracting and retaining skilled professionals. After all, a lack of skilled labour puts a strong brake on growth. I therefore very much welcome the work of the initiatives to repatriate and attract skilled professionals. This work helps address the skills shortage, whilst also sending out a strong message that it is worth returning to the New Länder. Furthermore, the initiatives are a positive example of active citizenship. Many of these initiatives in the New Länder go back many years. Today’s conference gives us an opportunity to learn from their dedicated work and their wealth of experience.”

The event kicked off with a debate between Björn Böhning, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Marco Wanderwitz, Federal Government Commissioner for the New Federal States, and Susi Möbbeck, State Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Integration of Saxony Anhalt and Commissioner for Integration, on the positive effect of the work done by initiatives seeking to attract and repatriate skilled professionals.

Later on, the initiatives had an opportunity to engage in discussions with the State Secretaries and to attend specialist forums on the current challenges and opportunities associated with structural change.