The German Labour Market in 2030 - Economy and labour market in the digital age - Forecast 2016

Author: Kurt Vogler-Ludwig, Nicola Düll, Ben Kriechel

Publisher: W. Bertelsmann Verlag

Year: 2016

Language: German (English summary)

In our new forecast of 2016 we prepared two long-term scenarios for the development of the German labour market until the year 2030.

  • The baseline scenario takes account of the latest refugee immigration and assesses its impact on growth, employment and unemployment. It particularly evaluates the potential of migration to lowering skill shortages.
  • The scenario "accelerated digitalization" assesses the impact of digitalization on the labour market. In contrast to a range of other studies, we perceive important market potentials by the enforced digitalization of the German economy and implementation of the Internet of Things (Industry 4.0). This will have positive effects on growth, productivity and employment.


The immigration of refugees will increase the population by 1.4 to 2.1 million until 2030, corresponding to 2 to 3 % of total population. The yearly growth rate of GDP will be 0.25% higher than without immigration, and employment will increase by 1.2 million, but unemployment will also be higher. However, if the intended vocational integration of the refugees fails, unemployment would increase much more and the positive effects on GDP and employment will disappear. We recommend the introduction of an immigration law in order to cope with future immigration from all parts of the world. At the same time we call for the further development of integration policies.

The accelerated digitalization will lead to the creation of an additional 250,000 jobs, increase GDP by 4% and enhance per capita income accordingly. Growth will mainly take place in the capital goods and business consultancy industries. Jobs will be lost in the trade sector and in public services. The accelerated digitalization will reinforce structural change of the German economy and will present huge challenges for vocational education and training. Nevertheless, we advocate pursuing a digitalization strategy that allows to grasp the economic advantages, in particular as the risks of not fully taking part in the technological competition appears to be substantial.

In order to cope with structural change we recommend to develop a flexicurity approach, using the Danish or Dutch experience. This should be designed to increase employment flexibility while ensuring a maximum of income and employment stability. Furthermore, the adult training should become a pillar of the German vocational education and training system. This appears to be essenatial to satisfy qualification requirements in an ageing society.

Client and research team

The forecast was commissioned by the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. It was carried out by an international research consortium under the lead of Economix Research & Consulting:

  • Cambridge Econometrics (CE). Cambridge (GB)
  • Fraunhofer Institut für Arbeitswirtschaft und Organisation (IAO), Stuttgart
  • Institut für Sozialwissenschaftliche Forschung, (ISF), München
  • Warwick Institute for Employment Research (IER), Coventry (GB)
  • Zentrum für europäische Wirtschaftsforschung (ZEW), Mannheim

English Summary [PDF]

Publications in German:

Forecast 2016 [PDF]

Special Reports [PDF]

Employment Effects of Digitisation – A Clarification [PDF]

Previous Forecasts