Jobs and employment opportunities can be found on the usual online platforms, but if you have any problems finding work, the City of Magdeburg and the State of Saxony-Anhalt both offer a large number of advisory services and jobs forums.
The state-wide initiative ‘Fachkraft-im-Fokus’ puts workers in touch with companies looking for people with their precise skillsets. There is also a ‘welcome’ scheme available for workers from abroad, which offers wide-ranging advice on how to go about entering the German employment market.
The careers service of Magdeburg University has set up a new internet portal for students, where businesses – mostly from the local region – can advertise their vacancies. But of course those who don’t intend to stay in Saxony-Anhalt, or even in Germany, will also find their needs catered for there.
The latest internship places, thesis options, and vacancies for trainees, doctoral students and graduates can be found in the ‘Nachwuchsmarkt’, the online forum run by Saxony-Anhalt’s higher education institutions.
If you’re looking for an apprenticeship, you should ask at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) in Magdeburg. The IHK offers advice on all aspects of everyday business for trainees, new entrepreneurs and companies, and is partly responsible for providing official recognition for certificates and qualifications. You can also find help there if you want to start up your own new business; guidance and advice are on offer to help you on your way.
High demand for certain skillsets
For a number of reasons, there is currently a lack of skilled workers in Germany. As a result, immigrants can find work in nearly every branch of industry. There is a particularly high demand in the following fields:
- the health professions: there is a desperate need for doctors and nurses. Magdeburg has several hospitals and a wide range of care facilities which are always on the lookout for new recruits.
- STEM subjects: scientists, engineers and IT specialists have a bright future in our city. Magdeburg is a research hub, with universities, institutes and research centres offering a wide range of job opportunities.
- skilled workers without an academic background from technical sectors such as metal construction, automotive engineering, mechatronics, power technology, heating and sanitation
- there is also a demand for staff to work in the gastronomy and hospitality industries
Recognition of qualifications
You will often require specific qualifications to be able to study or work in Germany. This is particularly the case with professions where entry is protected by the law or which involve especially challenging work. There are several steps you will need to take to have your certificates or qualifications officially recognised.
First you should find out which body is responsible for recognising your qualifications. Then gather together all of the documents and other evidence you need. You should also have your certificates authenticated by a state agency and translated into German by a state-approved translator. It is only then that you will be able to submit your certificate to the recognition process. If your qualification is not entirely compatible with the German system, you may have to obtain a supplementary qualification or pass a test which focuses on your work experience.
The IQ Netzwerk Sachsen Anhalt advises skilled workers from abroad on how to have their foreign credentials recognised, and suggests possible ways of obtaining additional qualifications.
For more information and tips, and to find out which body is responsible for recognising your qualifications, you should visit the following websites:
A reputable company will always give you a detailed written employment contract containing information about all aspects of the workplace. Nonetheless, there are certain things you should look out for to check whether or not the contract meets your needs:
- Time: The timeframe for your work must be set out clearly and unambiguously in any contract. For instance, when does the contract start? Is this a temporary position? Is there a probationary period, and how long does it last? How many hours a week will I work? How much annual leave am I entitled to? How much notice of termination must be given?
- Location: Your workplace must be clearly identified, as many companies have branches and subsidiaries at several locations. It is also possible that you will have to move about between different sites if this is stipulated in your contract, so be sure to check.
- Occupation: Your responsibilities should be precisely set out in your contract, because it is for these specific activities that you are being paid. If your employer insists on you taking on completely different work later down the line, you should have your employment contract amended accordingly.
- Pay: The salary you are to receive for your work must be clearly defined. The same applies to possible bonuses and contingency payments, and to how and when your salary is paid. But it is important to remember that employment contracts usually state your gross salary. So the costs of income tax and social insurance payments will have to be deducted from this amount.
- Collective agreements: These are commonplace in Germany in many industries, and usually set out the minimum income which an employer must pay to particular occupational categories, as well as bonus payments, potential salary increases, and workers’ benefits. Consequently, you should ensure that your contract meets the minimum requirements of the collective agreement, and that you are paid not a penny less.
Mini jobs (also known as marginal employment) are jobs where you earn no more than Euro 450 per month or work for no more than 70 days in the year. The advantage of such employment is that you don’t have to pay any income tax. Your social insurance payments will also be relatively low. The disadvantage of a mini job is the lack of a social safety-net, as there is no compulsion to pay contributions towards unemployment insurance or a pension. Moreover, people with mini jobs often have problems asserting exactly the same employment rights as full-timers, despite this being their legal entitlement. Generally speaking, mini jobs tend to be more suitable for students who want to earn a little extra while they are completing their studies.
Work experience is a temporary assignment which is available in any manner of business environments. It helps provide an insight into a particular company and sector, and allows individuals to gain experience which might be important for their future employment. Work experience is usually taken up by school children or students with a view to discovering the employment market and establishing where they can imagine working in the future. Most of these positions are unpaid, especially for school children and students. Where remuneration is offered, however, it must not be any less than the applicable minimum wage.
In Germany, the number of hours worked per week is usually governed by a collective agreement or by regulations applicable within the respective industry. The average working week is of about 35-40 hours, depending on the sector and which state you are employed in. The Working Time Act also states that you may work for no more than eight hours per day, although ten hours are permitted in exceptional circumstances. There is also a general prohibition on working on Sundays and public holidays, with a few exceptions. Rest periods are also regulated by law, so employees working for more than six hours per day are entitled to a break of half an hour each day.
Dos and Don'ts: workplace etiquette
In Germany, a relatively rigid separation is maintained between work and one’s private life. Because of this, many companies develop their own types of workplace culture and accepted modes of employee interaction. In general, work colleagues keep one another at a polite distance in Germany. In practical terms this can often mean addressing each other as ‘Sie’ at work, respecting other people’s personal space, and always being on time. After a while, you may often be asked if you can be addressed by ‘Du’; this tends to be more an expression of courtesy than of close friendship. These days, some employers are somewhat more relaxed and encourage an open workplace culture, with colleagues addressing one another as ‘Du’ in a cordial atmosphere. How you should act depends on the workplace culture at your particular company. It’s best to take your lead from your colleagues, and to try to be communicative in order to prevent misunderstandings and errors from occurring.
You will find a hoard of detailed information on the ‘Make it in Germany’ portal: