There are completely legal and perspective-rich opportunities for work for women in Germany. Even as a woman from an EU country you can use manyfold opportunities. Over 500,000 jobs are currently unfilled in Germany. We explain five current opportunities for women from abroad.
Introduction to the German Job Market
Germany, with its strong economy, boasts one of the most robust job markets in Europe. As of 2021, the country had an unemployment rate of only 5.9%, significantly lower than the EU average. Furthermore, it has a wide range of industries, including automotive, engineering, IT, healthcare, and renewable energy, providing diverse opportunities for foreign workers.
In terms of gender equality, Germany has been making significant strides, with women constituting around 46.5% of the total workforce in 2020, according to Eurostat. Moreover, the country’s government is committed to improving this figure and achieving greater gender parity in all sectors. Efforts to address the gender pay gap, which stood at around 18% in 2020, are ongoing.
The country is particularly interested in skilled professionals from abroad. With the introduction of the Skilled Immigration Act in March 2020, the process of moving to Germany for work has been simplified for non-EU nationals. For women seeking job opportunities, this means increased access to the German job market, particularly in sectors where skilled professionals are in high demand.
Labor Law and Women’s Rights in Germany
Germany has robust labor laws that protect the rights of all workers, including women. The General Act on Equal Treatment (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz) prohibits discrimination on various grounds, including gender. This means that employers cannot discriminate against women in hiring, promotion, pay, or other working conditions.
When it comes to maternity and parental rights, Germany has progressive policies. The Maternity Protection Act (Mutterschutzgesetz) guarantees women protection from dismissal during pregnancy and up to four months after childbirth, as well as paid leave six weeks before and eight weeks after childbirth. Following this, parents are also entitled to take parental leave (Elternzeit) for up to three years, with a guarantee of returning to their job.
Additionally, Germany has legislation to ensure gender equality in the workplace. The Federal Equality Act (Bundesgleichstellungsgesetz) requires federal agencies and businesses to promote equal opportunities for women and men, particularly in leadership positions. Despite these laws, there’s room for improvement, but the commitment to advancing equality is clear.
Job Opportunities for Women in Germany
There are ample job opportunities for women across various sectors in Germany. The healthcare sector, for example, is continuously in need of skilled workers, with roles ranging from nursing to specialized medical practitioners. As of 2021, women made up around 75% of the healthcare workforce in Germany, according to the Federal Statistical Office.
The tech industry also presents vast opportunities. Although traditionally dominated by men, the field is actively seeking more women to help drive innovation and diversity. Many companies and organizations are creating initiatives to attract and retain more women in tech roles. As of 2020, women made up around 17% of IT professionals in Germany, a figure that is expected to rise.
Other promising sectors include education, scientific research, and renewable energy, all of which are experiencing growth and increased demand for skilled professionals. Regardless of the sector, being proficient in German can significantly enhance employability and career progression for women in the country.
Balancing Work and Family Life in Germany
Balancing work and family life is a topic of great importance in Germany. The country offers numerous benefits designed to support working parents, such as generous parental leave policies and child benefits (Kindergeld). Employers are also increasingly offering flexible working arrangements, such as part-time work, flexitime, and remote work options, to support work-life balance.
Germany has a legal right to a place in a daycare facility (Kindertagesstätte, or Kita). Additionally, all-day schools (Ganztagsschulen) are becoming more widespread, offering educational activities and care for children until the late afternoon.
In terms of parental leave, the ElterngeldPlus program encourages both parents to share parental leave by providing additional benefits for those who choose to work part-time while taking care of their children. This initiative is especially beneficial for women who want to continue their careers while raising a family. Despite these provisions, challenges such as the availability of Kita places in certain regions and the reconciliation of work schedules with Kita/school hours can persist, but the general trend towards better work-family balance in Germany is unmistakable.
Popular Professions and Industries for Women in Germany
Germany offers a broad spectrum of job opportunities across various sectors, and certain industries attract a high proportion of female employees. The healthcare and social sectors stand out as the primary employers of women, with roles in nursing, elderly care, social work, and medical practice. In 2020, over three-quarters of employees in these sectors were women, according to Germany’s Federal Statistical Office.
The education and research sector also sees a strong representation of women, particularly in teaching roles in primary and secondary schools, and increasingly in academia. The growing emphasis on early education has boosted demand for educators and childcare specialists, positions primarily filled by women. Furthermore, women academics are playing a more prominent role in German universities, albeit still underrepresented in higher echelons and in certain disciplines such as STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
In the business sector, women are making strides, particularly in roles related to human resources, marketing, public relations, and sales. In the creative industries, such as fashion, design, and media, women are also leaving their mark. Moreover, with the tech industry’s growing emphasis on diversity, more women are venturing into IT and software development roles, fostering innovation and inclusivity in this traditionally male-dominated sector.
Work in Germany for women from abroad: Our 5 ideas
Option 1: Look for a job directly
Even if you are not from an EU country, you can look for a job directly in Germany if you have a foreign university degree or a foreign vocational school diploma and German language skills. However, it always depends somewhat on the job you want to work in, whether your qualifications are recognized and whether you speak German well. Applicants from non-EU countries need a visa, for which various requirements must be met.
If you have a foreign university degree and speak German at least at level A2, then you should definitely try to apply.
Option 2: Do a vocational training in Germany
If you have not yet earned a university degree or vocational school diploma abroad, but you already speak German at level A2, then you could apply for vocational training in Germany. It is also quite possible for people over the age of 30 to learn a profession in Germany as part of a dual vocational training program and later work in this profession in Germany.
Option 3: Do an FSJ or BFD
If you have not yet earned a university degree or vocational school diploma abroad and do not yet speak German very well, then you could do either an FSJ or a BFD. The FSJ is for applicants under 27 years and the BFD for applicants over 28 years.
Option 4: Learn German as an au pair
If you have not yet earned a university degree or vocational school diploma abroad and do not yet speak German, then you could start in Germany as an au pair and learn German in a concentrated way while taking care of children here.
Option 5: Study in Germany
Finally, you can study in Germany in English. You could start such studies with your existing English skills and learn German parallel to your studies. After completing your studies, you can then apply for a job in Germany or even abroad.
Success Stories and Case Studies
Highlighting success stories and case studies of women from abroad who have successfully built their careers in Germany can provide practical insights and inspiration for others considering the same path. For instance, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, began her illustrious career with a stint at the World Bank and later with McKinsey in Frankfurt. Her time in Germany was instrumental in shaping her future career.
Women from various backgrounds and professions have found success in Germany. From academics and scientists like Emmanuelle Charpentier, a French microbiologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize while working at the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, to entrepreneurs like Fadia Saad, who co-founded Etribes, a digital consulting firm in Hamburg, Germany has been the starting point of many successful careers.
These examples illustrate that with the right set of skills and a proactive approach, it is possible for women from abroad to find fulfilling and successful careers in Germany. They highlight the country’s open and inclusive job market, where talent and hard work are recognized and rewarded, regardless of one’s gender or origin.
Resources and Useful Links
To assist women from abroad who are considering working in Germany, several resources and platforms provide relevant information and support. The Federal Employment Agency’s “Make it in Germany” portal is a comprehensive resource providing information about finding jobs, recognition of foreign qualifications, learning German, and much more.
Networks and organizations such as Professional Women’s Network Germany, Women in Digital, and Digital Media Women offer platforms for networking, mentorship, and professional development. These networks can be instrumental in finding job opportunities, understanding the German work culture, and making valuable professional connections.
Furthermore, websites like XING and LinkedIn are widely used in Germany for professional networking and job hunting. Also, the “Recognition in Germany” website provides essential information on how foreign qualifications can be recognized in Germany. These resources can significantly ease the transition and help women from abroad establish their careers in Germany.
Conclusion and Outlook
The future of work for women in Germany looks promising, with ongoing efforts to promote gender equality, improve work-life balance, and increase the representation of women in all sectors. However, challenges remain, particularly in achieving equal representation in leadership roles and eliminating the gender pay gap.
Germany’s focus on attracting skilled professionals from abroad, coupled with its strong labor laws protecting women’s rights, makes it an attractive destination for women seeking to work abroad. The availability of resources, professional networks, and governmental support further ease the transition for women moving to Germany for work.
As more women from abroad share their success stories in Germany, it is expected to inspire others to consider Germany as a viable and rewarding place to work. Thus, the trend of women seeking work opportunities in Germany is likely to continue growing in the future.