More than four million people perform jobs whose requirements are below their qualification level. That is about twelve percent of the employees subject to social insurance contributions. Among mini-jobbers, one in five was overqualified.
Around one in eight employees subject to social insurance contributions in Germany have a job below their actual level of training. This is the result of an answer from the Federal Employment Agency to a question from the Left in the Bundestag. At the end of last year, a total of 4.05 million employees subject to social insurance contributions were working in jobs whose level of qualification was below their actual level of qualification. This was 12.0 percent of the 33.74 million employees subject to social insurance contributions. Among mini-jobbers, even one in five was formally overqualified: 911,000 of them worked below their qualification level.
This figure included people who had a vocational qualification but only worked as assistants, i.e., simple routine jobs. At the end of 2019, that was around 2.57 million people. In addition, there were 1.48 million people with an academic degree who worked as helpers or specialists, i.e. who did not formally need their university of applied sciences or university degree for their work.
Women and people in eastern Germany are disproportionately affected. The proportion of employees with higher formal qualifications than necessary is higher than that of men or people in western Germany.
At the same time, around one in eight employees has a job for which their formal qualifications are actually not sufficient. At the end of last year, 2.87 million people without vocational qualifications were employed as skilled workers, experts or specialists. For such jobs, one usually needs two to three years of vocational training, a master craftsman’s certificate or even a degree from a university of applied sciences or university. In addition, there are 1.14 million people who have a non-academic degree but would normally need a university degree for their work.
“Working under qualification harms job satisfaction
The member of parliament Sabine Zimmermann, who had made the request, directed her attention to those who work under her formal qualification. “Working under qualification harms the job satisfaction of those concerned and reduces their income,” she said. In fact, according to data from the Federal Employment Agency, the average wage of skilled workers is 806 euros higher than the average wage of helpers.
“The economic crisis caused by the pandemic and the ongoing economic transformation are aggravating the situation even more, because hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs and more will lose their jobs,” said Zimmermann. In addition, skilled workers are tied up who are desperately sought elsewhere.
Zimmermann accused the federal government of having been committed to work at all costs for about 15 years, that is, since the Hartz reforms took effect. On a large scale, he said, the potential for employment had been destroyed. This was particularly true for marginal employment: “Mini-jobs destroy qualifications to an above-average extent, especially among women.
The politician demanded that sanctions against the unemployed be abolished and that they be better supported in the search for jobs that meet the requirements of qualifications. Mini-jobs should be converted into employment subject to social insurance contributions.