Faced with a tight labor market and a shortage of workers with essential software engineering skills, some German firms are considering thousands of job cuts in Silicon Valley as an opportunity to hire top talent.
The U.S. West Coast has always been the major destination for ambitious software engineers who want to work in the best-paid, most elite corner of their profession, but the mass redundancies have created a pool of job seekers that Germany is keen to tap.
“They fire, we hire,” said Rainer Zugehoer, Chief People Officer at Cariad, the software subsidiary of automaker Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE). “We have several hundred open positions in the U.S., Europe, and China.”
Spooked by inflation and the possibility of a recession, Facebook owner Meta (META.O), Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL.O), and Microsoft (MSFT.O) have disclosed a combined almost 40,000 job cuts.
While Germany is also stumbling on the verge of recession, its firms have grown more slowly in past years and, in a country well-known for still handling business by fax, there are giant technology leaps to be made.
Germany, with one of the world’s most ageing populations, has huge holes in its labor force: according to IT industry group Bitkom, 137,000 IT jobs are unfilled. The government is streamlining immigration rules and dangling the prospect of easily-acquired citizenship to attract skilled would-be immigrants, and regional authorities are forging ahead.
“I would like to cordially invite you to move to Bavaria,” wrote Judith Gerlach, digitalization minister in Germany’s wealthiest region on LinkedIn in a post addressed to the recently fired.
Especially with the euro at dollar parity, few European firms pay rates that come close to the hundreds of thousands of dollars on offer at California’s most profitable companies, but some hope lower costs and cheaper healthcare compared to hotspots like San Francisco can help.
“And did I mention Oktoberfest?” Gerlach added, adding Munich’s famed beer festival to the strong labor protections that might prove enticing to the recently jobless.
Some are doubtful, with Bitkom’s Bernhard Rohleder noting that Germany is competing not only with other countries for the most skilled, but also with potential recruits’ home countries too. Germany’s liking for red tape could be another challenge: firms are already reporting months-long delays in acquiring appointments for their new recruits to obtain work permits.
“Bureaucracy in Germany is utterly crippling for most highly-qualified workers when they first encounter it, especially if they don’t speak German,” said Diana Stoleru of Berlin startup Lendis.