The poor economic situation and the uncertainty of many companies are causing demand for employees in IT professions to collapse. The skills gap in Germany almost halved in the first quarter of 2024 compared to the previous year.

The number of open positions that could not be filled with suitably qualified candidates fell by 46 percent to 19,372. This is the result of a study by the Competence Center for Securing Skilled Workers (Kofa) of the employer-related Institute of German Economy.

The number of vacancies in the IT career field fell by a fifth compared to the previous year, while the number of qualified unemployed people rose by more than a quarter. According to study author Gero Kunath, the reason for this development is the economic weakness. Companies held back investments and larger IT projects were postponed or canceled entirely. Another explanation is future technologies such as artificial intelligence, which make processes easier and require less manual work and personnel.

“A temporary economic downturn indicates that the demand for qualified IT specialists in the German economy remains high, even if it has cooled down noticeably,” said Kunath. Overall, 37.2 percent of open positions in IT professions still could not be filled.

Expert: Skills gap can slow recovery

According to the study, the skills gap remains high overall, but has recently been declining. In March 2024, the number of vacancies for qualified specialists was around 1.2 million, almost 4 percent lower than a year ago. The number of qualified unemployed people increased by a good 9 percent to around 1.1 million.

According to the expert, the gap is significantly higher than the gap between vacancies and the number of unemployed suggests. Because not every unemployed person is suitable for every open position with their qualifications.

According to Kunath, the decline in the skills gap is not a sign of recovery. Due to the weakened economy, there have recently been more unemployed qualified specialists and fewer vacancies. In the event of an economic recovery, bottlenecks are expected to worsen, “which could slow down the upswing.”