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23 Jun 2011

Germany to Open Doors for Skilled Workers from Non-EU Countries

Source : The Economic Times

BERLIN: Faced with a shortage of highly qualified specialists and skilled workers in many hi-tech fields, Germany has eased the restrictions on migration of some professional groups from non-EU countries that had made it more difficult for them to find work in the country.

It is for the first time, since the regulations on the recruitment of these professionals were tightened in the early 1970s, that the German government has agreed with industry and union leaders to go for a long-term concept that includes changing immigration laws .

The new concept endorsed by the cabinet yesterday, exempted mechanical and electrical engineers, automobile constructors and medical professionals from a requirement that German companies can appoint them only when suitable candidates are not available within the country or in the EU.

German companies intending to recruit those specialists from non-EU countries no longer require to produce such a certification from the Federal Labour Office, Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Merkel said her government's concept is a two-pronged strategy to tackle the shortage of specialists by exploiting the potential available within the country and by making the country more attractive for specialists from non-EU countries.

German Institute for Labour Market Research estimates that the country will face a shortage of around 6.5 million specialists and skilled workers by 2025 as a result of an ageing population if effective steps were not taken to offset the decline through migration and by developing domestic resources.

Another institute forecasts German labour market will have vacancies for up to 240,000 engineers by 2020.

The opening of German labour market for job-seekers from East European members of the EU on May 1 did very little to alleviate the shortage of specialists because the influx of workers so far were mainly in the low-wage segment, the studies said.

Shortage of specialists and skilled workers at present is very acute in the fields of mathematics, information technology and natural sciences and it reached a record level of 150,000 vacancies, according to the estimates of the Federal Labour Office.

The government plans to meet a part of the increasing demand for skilled workers and specialists by promoting the training of long-time unemployed, elderly job-seekers and women.

At the same time, the government also wants to open the areas of engineering, automobile construction and health care for specialists from non-EU countries, Merkel said.

Until now, German firms were allowed to recruit only cooks specialising in foreign cuisine and football professionals and top-ranking athletes from non-EU countries without a prior examination that local or EU candidates were available.

"This is only just the beginning and more needs to be done" to make the country more attractive for highly qualified specialists and skilled workers from outside the EU, Ms Merkel said.

However, Chancellor Merkel's Christian Democratic Union and its coalition partner Free Democratic Party (FDP) could not agree on reforming a controversial rule that specialists and skilled workers from non-EU countries should have a minimum annual salary of 66,000 euros to obtain a residence permit in Germany.

Many experts and labour market analysts argue that this minimum salary requirement is the biggest hurdle for highly qualified job-seekers from non-EU countries to migrate to this country.
 

 

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