Institute for Resource Management
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WelKMU - SME – competitiveness – qualified workers – migration – Initiative New Quality of Work

Addressing the shortage of qualified workers by employing highly skilled migrants

© Monkey Business –

Highly skilled migrants are becoming increasingly important for German companies. On the one hand there is already a lack of highly skilled workers in certain business sectors and regions, particularly in the STEM-fields (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). On the other hand, highly qualified migrants can support companies in coping with challenges of an increasingly globalized market. As a result of lower brand awareness, fewer recruiting resources and in parts unattractive location, SMEs in particular will be affected by shortages of qualified workers. Hence, there is need for action in several respects. First, SMEs have to be enabled to gain experience with highly qualified migrants, including recruiting, integrating and establishing a permanent commitment to the company. Second, young talents with a migration background have to be acquainted with the possibilities and specifics of SMEs as employers in order to be retained by them and to use their specific potentiality for SMEs in an optimal way.

Step by step towards increased competitiveness

The project "Highly Qualified Migrants for small and medium enterprises” aims at activating students and graduates with a migrant background at an early stage as STEM-experts for SMEs, to help integrate them into companies and retain them. The action plan includes short-term measures like improved application and selection procedures as well as medium-term measures for integration and promotion of highly qualified workers, or a more open-minded SME business culture. In order to achieve these goals, low-threshold as well as long-term instruments will be developed. Knowledge is to be gathered on (1) the crux and starting points for the activation of migrants and their integration into SMEs, and (2) best-practices and their analyses. The project poses an important contribution for improving the quality of work in Germany because it shows how the integration of highly qualified migrants can be promoted and how these people can successfully be placed in SMEs.

Initiative New Quality of Work

The project is sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) in the framework of the "Initiative New Quality of Work". The initiative was founded in 2002 by the BMAS and leading social partners. Today it represents a nonpartisan alliance which includes Federal and State-level government, business associations, trade unions, the Federal Employment Agency, companies, social insurance providers and foundations. It understands improved quality of work as key for innovation capacity and competitiveness in Germany. The initiative offers inspiring examples from company practice, consulting and information, an exchange platform as well as a funding program for projects that develop new approaches for personnel management and policy.

Project name:
WelKMU - Highly Qualified Migrants for Small and Medium Enterprises


Dr. Susanne Schön, Phone: +49(0)30 34 34 74 50
David Westenberg, Phone: +49(0)30 34 34 74 56

Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) as part of the Initiative New Quality of Work

Scientific support:
Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA)

The German Association for Small and Medium-sized Businesses (BVMW) German Water Partnership e.V. (GWP) Bundesverband ausländischer Studierender e.V. (BAS)