Germany’s second-pillar pension system “needs strengthening” despite the fact participation in it has kept pace with the number of working people in the country, according to the Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs.

As of the end of December 2013, the number of working people in Germany with an occupational pension plan stood at just over 20m, a 3% increase since the government’s previous survey, commissioned in 2011.

According to the 2013 survey, the number of active members in the second pillar has increased by approximately 30% since 2001 – more or less in line with the number of working people overall.

While the government cited the role of the private sector in increasing the number of people covered by a pension plan, it also pointed out that Germany’s overall participation rate remained unchanged at roughly 60%.

The Ministry announced that the government would soon present a number of recommendations on how to overcome hurdles to the establishment of pension plans, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises.

According to the government’s latest survey, 55-60% of Pensionskasse or Pensionsfonds members in Germany have opted for deferred compensation, implemented in 2002.

And more than half of surveyed Pensionskassen, 93% of Pensionsfonds and 85% of direct insurance providers say they are optimistic that membership figures in their respective vehicles will increase.

However, the Ministry pointed out that respondents had shown similar degrees of optimism in previous surveys – optimism that had been justified only “to a limited degree”.