February 21, 2017 / 11:05 AM / 6 months ago

German job vacancies hit record high in fourth quarter - survey

BERLIN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Job vacancies in Germany rose to more than one million in the final three months of 2016 to hit a record high, data showed on Tuesday, in a further sign of improved labour demand in Europe's biggest economy.

Total job vacancies jumped by about 80,000 to 1.044 million in the fourth quarter of last year, the survey by the IAB labour office research institute found.

"That's a record. We've never seen a higher number of job vacancies before," IAB researcher Alexander Kubis said.

More than half the vacancies were in services, with the health sector and firms offering care of the elderly struggling especially with a shortage of skilled labour, Kubis said.

Other areas with a persistently high number of vacancies are technical and scientific professions, he added.

German companies have increased their efforts to adapt to a long-heralded shortage of people of working age as an economic upturn drives employment and vacancies to record highs.

A survey by staffing firm ManpowerGroup found German firms were more worried about attracting and retaining talent than their peers in the United States, France, Italy or Britain.

To counter the shortage of skilled labour, companies have designed special training schemes for young people from other European states like Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Spain, where youth unemployment is high.

Other measures include above-inflation pay hikes, subsidised meals and on-site nurseries, flexible working conditions beyond the statutory minimum as well as training for older employees to operate machines doing work they used to carry out.

German unemployment fell more than expected in January to reach a record low of 5.9 percent. (Reporting by Michael Nienaber, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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