The German government has started a consultation with social partners to create incentives to keep people working for longer, as the lack of skilled workers dents the country’s economic strength.

The dialogue process, called Arbeit & Rente (Work & Pensions), aims to find solutions to get rid of obstacles and create incentives to encourage people to work longer on a voluntary basis, said the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS).

Discussions will consider ways for an even more flexible transition from working life to retirement.

In Germany a flexible retirement age de facto already exists, with employees who have been insured for a long period of time able to retire at 63 years old without suffering pension cuts (the so-called Rente mit 63 option); the statutory retirement age is 67 years old. 

However, requests for early retirement have increased over the years, to 288,491, as of November last year, from 181,871 in July 2014, according to a reply to a parliamentary inquiry by Kerstin Griese, state secretary of BMAS.

The government therefore wants even more people aged 60 and over to be employed in the future, it said.

A spokesperson for the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate (BMWK), which is also involved in the dialogue with social partners, told IPE that mobilising workers is key for Germany’s economic success.

The government is trying to use the demographic changes and an aging society to its advantage, to keep experienced workers employed for longer. 

“Against the background of demographic change, older workers are becoming increasingly important,” BMAS said in a statement. 

The dialogue process will take place until the end of the summer, to lay out proposals having an impact on the shortage of workers in industries.