Most popular place to work: Germany ranks fourth worldwide

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Lots of internationality, startup flair, high quality of life: There are many reasons why more and more people are drawn to Berlin. In fact, the German capital is the fourth most popular place to work – worldwide.

This is shown by a study by the Stepstone * job platform and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Around 208,000 employees from 190 nations were surveyed. Only in London, Amsterdam and Dubai do workers prefer to work. Berlin is particularly attractive for the highly qualified: for employees with a master’s degree or doctorate, Berlin even comes in second place.

So it is not surprising that the whole of Germany is doing quite well in an international comparison. Although Germany has lost some of its attractiveness as an employer destination compared to the previous study in 2018 (then in second place), it still remains the most respected country in Europe when it comes to the question of where one would like to work. In direct comparison, only the US, Canada and Australia are considered more popular.

According to Sebastian Reiche, Professor of People Management at the IESE Business School, there are several reasons why Germany is so popular as a place to work among foreign specialists. “The job market has become much more flexible in the past two decades,” he says in an interview with

Language plays a decisive role. Unlike in many other European countries such as Spain or France, employees in Germany can work well in English. The high standard of education, the good training system and not least the low unemployment – especially since the financial crisis – also strengthen the attractiveness of the German labor market. On the other hand, the cost of living is still comparatively low compared to Great Britain or the Scandinavian countries.

“In order to cope with the shortage of skilled workers, we need immigration”

Companies should urgently take advantage of the great attraction of the German labor market. “To cope with the shortage of skilled workers, we need immigration from other countries,” says Rainer Strack, Senior Partner at BCG and co-author of the study mentioned. “German companies that want to emerge stronger from the Corona crisis should see the attractiveness of the location as an advantage and increasingly look for talent abroad.”

However, recruiting good skilled workers from abroad could become more difficult in the future. The study also shows that fewer and fewer employees are willing to go abroad for their jobs. The corona pandemic is reinforcing this trend: While in 2018 57 percent of the study participants said they would be willing to work outside their home country, it was only 50 percent in the current survey. In Germany, only 45 percent would like to have a job abroad. That is ten percent less than in the previous study.

Germany is particularly attractive for skilled workers from Austria, Eastern Europe or Turkey

For those who can imagine working abroad, Switzerland, Austria, the USA and Canada are particularly popular destinations. On the other hand, Germany is particularly attractive for skilled workers from Austria, Eastern Europe or Turkey. In more distant countries, such as Iran, Morocco, Tunisia, Mexico or Ghana, the Federal Republic has lost its popularity. “The attractiveness on the international job market is regionalizing,” says Strack. A trend that can be observed in other areas of the economy, especially due to Corona.

On the flip side, however, 57 percent of respondents were open to working remotely for an employer abroad – significantly more than those who are willing to move for their job. However, here, too, the willingness of Germans is lower, namely at 47 percent. “Demographic change is just around the corner,” says Stepstone CEO Sebastian Dettmers. The current crisis is not only exacerbating the war for talents, it is also an accelerator for digital mobility. Never before would companies have had such good access to the global workforce. That makes for a bigger talent pool.

“The best in their field can offer their skills internationally,” says BCG partner Strack. With all the advantages, the remote working world also brings with it many difficulties, for example legal questions, data protection concerns or working in different time zones. Nevertheless, it makes sense for companies to see this new form of work and to use it for themselves.

Corona strategy affects popularity

It is also interesting that although English-speaking countries continue to dominate the ranking, there have been two changes at the top: Canada has ousted the USA, Australia climbed from seventh to third, putting Germany ahead of Germany. This suggests that a successful strategy in combating the corona pandemic has also had an impact on a country’s popularity as a place to work.

“Countries that were able to successfully cope with the first wave of the corona pandemic have grown in an international comparison,” says Dettmers. In particular, Asian countries such as Singapore, Japan and New Zealand have moved up. However, countries that were hit hard by Covid-19 in spring 2020 have lost their attractiveness – these include Italy, Spain and France.

* Like, Stepstone is part of Axel Springer SE.


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