Germany is set to increase efforts to attract more foreign workers due to a severe shortage of skills especially in engineering and IT.

As the country’s economy grows after the global economic downturn Germany needs an extra 400,000 skilled workers, according to the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

From this month Germany is making it easier for electrical and mechanical engineers from the eight new States that joined the 27-member European Union bloc in 2004 to get work.

Germany had originally planned to continue with work restrictions for these countries by have done a U-turn because of the chronic shortage of skills.

‘We’re struggling with the effects of staff shortages every day,’ said Hans Georg Haerter, chief executive officer of ZF Friedrichshafen, a German company that makes gearboxes for the automotive industry. The company plans to hire 250 engineers next year.

The government is also considering a reduction in the minimum annual wage requirements to obtain a work visa for non-EU/EEA workers, currently set at €85,000 a year as employers in sectors such as the IT industry have complained that it is too difficult to find qualified personnel under the current rules.

Foreign students who earn a degree in Germany will also be allowed to stay and work for three years after getting their degree. More foreign students should be encouraged to study in the country, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has suggested.

In 2009, one in three foreign graduates of German educational institutions took advantage of legislation that allows non European Union graduates of German universities to stay on in the country and work in skilled professions.

DAAD President Sabine Kunst said the numbers must rise significantly to 300,000 by 2020 to meet the country’s needs. ‘Recruiting foreign students appears to be the ideal way to boost Germany’s skilled labour force,’ she said.

While the German Foreign Trade Association is calling for more immigration. Indeed economics minister Rainer Brüderle wants a new immigration system put in place that will allow in more skilled workers from abroad.