- Cristina J. Orgaz @cjorgaz
- BBC News World
Germany, which has been suffering from severe manpower shortages for years, has always sought to fish out the manpower it lacks in European Union countries.
But a change in its immigration policies will now make the arrival of non-European citizens more flexible.
In early September, German Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Hubertus Heil revealed plans to create an “opportunity card” (Sanchengarde in German) with a points-based system.
It is a kind of “green card” similar to that in the United States, the purpose of which is to attract specialized specialists.
What does it contain?
The most notable thing about the scheme is that foreigners can come and find jobs.
In other words, they do not need a concession to qualify for a visa, as in many countries.
This will save candidates from applying from abroad.
The new card, due this autumn, will allow anyone who meets three of these four conditions to immigrate and find work in Germany:
- University Diploma.
- Knowledge of German or having lived in Germany.
- Three years work experience.
- Should be under 35 years of age.
They must also prove that they can pay their expenses for the time they spend before looking for work in Germany.
What is the reason for the change in law??
An immigrant nation known as the “Engine of Europe”.
Almost 20% of the population is foreign-born and at least 25% are immigrants.
The country is well known for welcoming immigrants in the 1970s, when the Eastern European Union collapsed in the early 1990s, and more recently during the Syrian refugee crisis, to cite three examples of historical moments when the country opened its doors to immigration.
“Part of the post-war economic boom in Germany was due to the influx of these workers,” Ulf Rinn, a senior researcher at the Institute for Labor Economics (IZA) in Germany, told BBC Mundo.
A major problem currently facing the country is ageing, which, as in many European countries, will cause more people to leave the labor market than enter it in the coming years.
“Labor shortages affect almost all sectors of the German labor market. However, the situation is particularly tense in the science, technology, medicine and nursing professions,” says a senior policy economist at Germany’s Family and Migration Issues. Institute of Economics (IW).
Effects on the economy
If the problem is not fixed, the consequences for the German economy will be disastrous.
“If jobs can’t be filled at scale, it means companies aren’t reaching their full economic potential.”
“In industry, this will lead to the relocation of factories abroad and a worsening of the supply situation in Germany,” adds Geis-Thöne.
Rinne agrees on this point.
“The shortage of technical workers and the decline of the young population in Germany, which had already hindered the growth of the German economy before the crisis, have now become a labor shortage.”
Which fields offer opportunities?
Staffing shortages affect many organizations and sectors.
According to a recent economic survey by the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), a total of 56% of German companies see their business at risk due to a lack of skilled labor.
“Construction, transport, hospitality, health and social services and technical service providers are the hardest hit,” said Thomas Renner, spokesman for the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DIHK).
“The advantage of such a system is that the missing criteria can be partially compensated by others,” says Renner.
Other local networks also cite electricians, economists, production assistants, sales managers, architects and civil engineers.
According to Minister Hubertus Heil, the number of cards issued will be limited and will depend on the needs of the labor market.
“It is not yet clear whether Germany will succeed in attracting young workers,” says Geis-Thöne.
“German immigration law is already liberal when it comes to labor migration and school migration. However, the administrative procedures are very long and the access routes are sometimes difficult to understand for people from abroad,” he added.
Speaking language and bureaucracy
But many experts agree that the country faces two major problems beyond the scope of the proposal.
The first is the language difficulty.
The second concerns administrative hurdles in validating a university or training diploma.
“The German language is a huge barrier and handicap in international competition,” says Rinne.
“It cannot be fully compensated, but it can be reduced, for example, daily, cultural and leisure activities in a foreign language and, above all, in English,” he explains.
“In addition, Germany is very reluctant to recognize professional qualifications acquired abroad”
“Processes must be accelerated and digitized, and formal barriers must be reduced, because German standards cannot be demanded everywhere in the world,” says the expert.
Another problem Germany faces in its plan is international competition.
“The number of well-educated skilled workers in third countries is low and other countries are also interested. The advantage of Anglo-Saxon countries is that most of the world’s skilled people speak good English anyway”, explains economist Geis-. Dhone.
“Above all, a coherent overall set of integration policy measures should be drawn up. It should focus not only on entry, but also before and after,” Rinne believes.
A business network
Germany is particularly strong in companies with 100 or 200 people and, despite their medium size, are competitive in the international market and exports.
The country’s entrepreneurial fabric is made up above all of Mittelstand (small and medium-sized enterprises), which, according to experts, account for 95% of the German economy.
They are typically family organizations with long-term plans, strong investment in employee training, strong social responsibility and wide regional presence.
“Coffee trailblazer. Social media fanatic. Tv enthusiast. Friendly entrepreneur. Amateur zombie nerd.”