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Welcome needed to attract skilled foreigners

The Local · 1 Dec 2011, 17:06

Published: 01 Dec 2011 17:06 GMT+01:00

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“Germany does not have the image of an attractive country for immigrants. Politics has a duty to send clear signals here,” the expert commission’s report released on Thursday said.

The ban on non-European Union workers, which has a host of complicated exceptions which Americans and others have to exploit if they want to work in Germany, should be ditched in favour of targeted and managed immigration, the report said.

An action plan laid out by the cross-party, independent commission said immigrants should no longer have to present a work contract to enter Germany, but that criteria should be set according to what kind of experts are needed in the country.

The government has already said it intends to reduce the minimum income necessary to get a permanent residency from €66,000 to €48,000 a year, while the report said foreign students should also be given greater opportunity to stay after finishing their degrees.

Around 60 percent of Germans would welcome such changes, the report said. “It is increasingly recognised that managed immigration has positive effects,” it said.

Experts have been warning of Germany’s growing labour crisis for years. According to one study this year, there could be 3.5 million unfilled jobs in the country by 2025.

It was hoped that skilled immigrants from other countries would help close the gap. But many are choosing to go to countries like the United States, Canada or Great Britain instead of Germany.

Government figures released earlier this summer showed that few immigrants from places like Eastern Europe were coming to Germany to work, even as labour barriers fell. Experts believe 60,000 to 70,000 Eastern Europeans may end up living and working in Germany instead of the hundreds of thousands that were once expected.

The expert commission, led by former North Rhine-Westphalia integration minister Armin Laschet and former defence minister Peter Struck echoed those concerns.

It said politicians could lower barriers to immigration while ensuring Germany doesn’t become overrun with those seeking to profit from the country’s generous social services. In concert with lowering income requirements for people seeking settlement visas, for instance, Germany could also implement restrictions on immigrants receiving social funds for their first few years in country, the report said.

But concurrently, the government should make sure education and work opportunities for German citizens improve while offering more generous inducements to people like students studying at universities here to stay for longer.

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The commission said that it should be easier for them to get residency permits after graduation. “They must be reassured that they are welcome in Germany,” it said.

The Local/DPA/mdm

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

19:39 December 1, 2011 by catjones
The conundrum is: if you're smart enough to get in; you're smart enough to stay out. In fact, that even applies to the natives: if you're smart enough to stay in, you're smart enough to leave...which is what they're doing. That leaves the desperate or the naive.
19:42 December 1, 2011 by gtappend
How about if companies in Germany started taking on unemployed people with almost the right set of skills and trained them on the job, rather than advertising for people with very specific skills and 5+ years experience with them?
02:29 December 2, 2011 by supernova
@catjones: Well said, Germany is a country that is full of prejudices & racism against foreigners. Not to forget the bureaucratic & linguistic hazards. In bonus you get absolutely Null social life with these over serious cold reserved piece of folks.

It's the last country that an skilled immigrant would wanna help run with taxes!!!!!
09:06 December 2, 2011 by HelloOutThere
Well catjones, in fact if natives are smart enough to stay in, they will be smart and eventually stay here. From what I have experienced most of the Germans who tend to emigrate from Germany to another country are the ones who are unable to find a decent job here in Germany or seek to become super rich (as it is actually much easier to become super rich with a good idea in the U.S. for instance than in Germany - at the same time you can also fall much deeper).
09:16 December 2, 2011 by frankiep

Completely agree. When looking at job ads from German companies it doesn't take long at all to notice that the vast majority of them are unbelieveably specific. It is as if they simply take the job description of someone who has already been working in a similar job at the company for the last 10 years and turn it into a job ad. This of course is done without consideration of the fact that the ad then lists required qualifications which someone would only have if they had already been working at the specific company and in that specific job for 10 years. Personally, I have the feeling that this is done as a salary negotiation technique, so that when they finally do settle on someone they can then point to the "lack of qualifications/experience" and lowball them on the salary offer.

The government can lower immigration requirements and streamline bureaucratic hurdles, but the real problem is something that the government cannot do much of anything about. The problem is the mentality of many German employers who look upon skilled foreign workers as being substandard because they don't have German school certifications and cannot produce the requisite German Zeugnisse. The lack of flexibility in hiring practices is a real problem.
09:36 December 2, 2011 by amit4422
09:41 December 2, 2011 by alexagainstalex

Agree. Germany is certainly not the place you go to if you are looking for a healthy social life, especially if most (specialized) job offers are in places with low tolerance, and cold social habits . But they do have a lot of job offers, again "specialized". The working conditions are pretty decent too. And yes, it is not a place to become rich.

The linguistic hazards are just things you have to deal with, however. That's ok. That's doable. So is the bureaucracy. It's just as bad in the US and Canada for foreigners (not something that catjones would know, I presume).

I am a foreigner in Germany, have been one in the US, Canada and other places. Germany is not that bad, compared to other non English speaking developed countries. Try going to France!

All in all, the government can indeed do better to attract well educated foreigners. In fact, it has too. It cannot improve the social issues, that's "our" problem. But that's a problem we may have everywhere. Try living in NYC and tell me how many friends you end up with.
09:52 December 2, 2011 by siba
"But many are choosing to go to countries like the United States, Canada or Great Britain instead of Germany." ... The LANGUAGE is the common link. If you would not speak English in these countries the picture would look QUITE different!!! So do not compare apples and oranges. If you do not consider English-speaking countries, Germany is quite on the top of those countries with the most immigrants.

At least for Berlin I must say that here it seems that more than 50 Percent are immigrants - and English is more often heard than German... and I only know immigrants and they all love to live here - more than in London or New York. But sure, bureaucratic barriers can never be low enough for immigrants!! so let's improve that!
10:42 December 2, 2011 by HelloOutThere
@ siba: Yes, this in one reason why some people go to the United States, Canada, Great Britain or Australia. In my opinion in fact learning English is much much easier than learning German, French, Spanish, etc. . No difficult conjugation (except of third person singular - "(e)s", casi are not as difficult as in German at all and so on.

I see supernova - and in the United States people from abroad, black people and so on are embraced and overpoured with love. This is why there are some who did not want to vote for Obama just because he is black and this is also why there is an organisation called the Ku Klux Clan which has become even bigger since Obama became president. And in Great Britain there are also no problems at all - except of some Pakistani kids who force English girls who are non-Muslim to become prostitutes and the English are not fond of speaking of this problem because of the so called political correctness. Oh and I forgot to mention Eastern countries like Bulgaria where the Bulgarians express their love towards black people with imitating monkeys everytime a black player touched the ball in the football game between Bulgaria and England.
11:00 December 2, 2011 by siba
@supernova: It is YOU who has prejudices about Germans. That's all!

I love Germany since it gives me opportunities I would never have had anywhere else. And I find social life quite easy here compared to NYC, London or especially Amsterdam. Here in Berlin there are so many expats (among those I also count Germans who are not from Berlin) who settle here... most these people want to get to know new people... so there is no place where it was easier for me to make friends... Berlin is the place to be! NYC, London and Amsterdam were quite disappointing. Apart from lots of arrogance there you only count as a person if you are rich... Berlin is different :)
11:51 December 2, 2011 by aussie_boy
Many Eastern Europeans actually learn English and don't know much German, if any (and usually don't want to), and so prefer to go to English speaking countries. I have to agree with Siba and also add that I have a lot more German friends than expats. Siba is wrong though, Munich is the place to be!
11:54 December 2, 2011 by Soniblue

it would seem that your idea would be for skilled immigrants to just stay among them in Berlin. Socializing with other english speaking foreigners is usually not an issue, but actually becoming friends with the locals is harder.

What alexagainstalex points out in the last paragraph is also true; making local friends is an issue everywhere. But it takes -a lot- longer to actually become part of a german social circle.
12:11 December 2, 2011 by AClassicRed
I prefer to live in Germany compared to the USA, for example, I think it is mostly because I actually do have some very good friends here. Compared to what some others have said also, I never found it difficult to find friends because there are many seeking companionship in some way but that is ex-pats. Soniblue makes a valid point: it can be harder to become a part of a local German circle, but I did so. The German policies, etc. towards foreigners does make it very complicated for certain ones to remain though, on one hand, while on the other, it seems very simple.

As a foreign professional given a very limited visa to only work as a freelance writer or editor, the government basically wants me to spend all my funds contributing to their country, but receive absolutely nothing back. And when I say receive nothing back, I don't mean I seek social services or anything like that, but as a forty year old with several years experiences in other careers and as a student who will receive another degree in science, I still cannot work in any way except what one lone young man at the Ausländerbehorde decided for me. It becomes very complex at times, to survive because the freelance business is not always an income at a certain level. So, I am especially one of those people who will welcome the proposed changes regarding certifications etc.

Ironically enough, though I've visited and/or lived in Berlin since 2003, for the first time I went to the office of Migration and Integration last week, just to have an advisory consultation. It was interesting the discussion and rueful opinion of the representation who agreed Germany does cater more towards certain foreigners, whom there are complaints about there being "too many of".

For example, they would provide many services to those Germany felt would have more trouble integrating or those seeking or joining marriage partners to start families. He specifically listed Africans, Turkish and Asians. The office could and would provide little or no help or direction to Americans, such as language programs, finding accommodations or work, because it had been decided they needed less help to integrate as a whole, instead of taking persons on a case-by-case basis. In some ways I thought, don't complain about high birth rates among non-Germans, because the system is fostering it.

I don't have to leave, but I've known quite a number of Americans over the years who liked German life, liked Berlin, but couldn't find work, were imposed so many restrictions, that they really tried but had to return home. They basically invested several thousands of euros in Germany, but were basically forced out. Some tried again, but many gave up or went to other European countries instead. These were not students but those between 25-35, had solid abilities but were only told 'no'.
12:53 December 2, 2011 by HelloOutThere
I think the reason why it takes a lot longer to become part of a German social circle is that Germans tend to choose their friends/partners rather carefully. They usually only want to become friends with persons who they think can be trusted, which - in my opinion - is a good thing, because then you usually have real friends and not only "Bekannte" as they are called in Germany. It's not only something which foreigners experience in Germany, but also Germans themselves. In my opinion this way of socialising contrats with the way it is in the United States where "friendships" can be rather superficial from what I have experienced. Nevertheless there are some people who are like this and some people who are like that in Germany and the United States.
13:36 December 2, 2011 by AClassicRed
@HelloOutThere, you made such a terrific point I'd observed also, which is why I said I had friends I considered quite good here in Germany compared to when I am in the US, except when I am with my people (I'm Native American) or actually Germans I'd met there. That's in general, and maybe because I require and am used to a level of honesty and forthrightness based upon mutual respect what I'm used to here.

It might take a while, but most of the Germans I know quite well and who I call friends, which they've reciprocated... when they finally do say things like, "Call us if you need us", "Come by during special times..." etc. they really mean it. They will not say unless they really mean it.

Although, there are varieties in both and other countries, I did experience in the US unless you were of what they considered their social class, of their religion, worked with them or shared same ideals, you were not welcomed. It just seemed very limited and limiting, cellular. I've seen that here also, but experienced more openness, and willingness to get to know someone with different perspectives and background.
14:52 December 2, 2011 by SchwabHallRocks
People are people... over the whole world. Have a good weekend.
15:18 December 2, 2011 by supernova
Moral of the story is that because of industrialization & 24/7 useless efforts of exhibiting perfection & discipline also in casual life, Gerrys have forgotten how to really socialize & act natural. After all it's a deeply injected papa Hitler influence that is ultimately intentionally or unintentionally passed onto current 3rd generation that will take at least another 50 years to clear out from the German Neurology.

Germans may socialize among the blonde blues but if there's a black haired around, they feel uneasy. But trust you me, the time is closer when it won't be odd to see black haired Germans living in Germany as majority happily ever after! This is exactly what the white Gerrys fear of!
15:39 December 2, 2011 by Hans Tuga
what about germany building factories in greece, portugal, ireland, etc???!??

From my knowledge german companies arent even investing in germany!!!!

Go china and vietnam, young man!!
16:36 December 2, 2011 by siba
Supernova: Another truly unqualified comment! just because of the experience with hitler germany moved into the opposite direction and is one of the few countries left where no right-wing populist political party dominates the public discourse. germany has become a very tolerant country and skin colour or religion or sexual orientation are less a topic than in most other western countries. my friends in berlin are black, broun, white, red, gay, lesbian, transgender, muslim, jewish... berlin is proud for its diversity and tolerance and that's why it attracts so many people from abroad.

AClassicRed: I agree. There are many expats who want to live in berlin but they need a job first to get a long-term visa, that is why some friends from the US and Australia have to live here unregistered ... but some friends got jobs now due to the better job-situation. but this restrictive regualtion has to be changed, definitely!!
16:51 December 2, 2011 by HelloOutThere
@ siba: I'm with you - nevertheless I fear that we can keep on talking, but they still won't listen to us. The problem with thelocal.de is that it has become a KIND OF FORUM FOR RACISTS OF ALL KIND. Some of them are especially anti-German, some of them are especially anti-Muslim, some of them hold antisemitism. Surely there are problems all over the world in every country including Germany, but calling all Germans Nazis, calling all Muslims terrorists and calling all Jewish people egoistic people who try to get money everytime it's possible is just stupid.
17:18 December 2, 2011 by siba
HelloOutThere: I am afraid you are right. We are only wasting our time with people who have no idea of Germany, or who just follow their fascist agenda... :( - with a few exceptions of course!
19:15 December 2, 2011 by Matt in Florida
My grandparents left Germany long ago, Bavaria for USA, now the chance to go back? tempting it would be!
22:31 December 2, 2011 by brnskin2010
Localppl:....I ve read everyone's comment and I must say they have been interesting. If Germany chooses not to change their policies regarding foreigners being able to find employment in their country, their lose. I lived in Bamberg for 6yrs and went to Berlin a few times. A big difference in the ppl there and the rest of germany. Outside of Berlin/Munich I hear their language being spoken all the time( which I think is a beautiful language. Personally, I love germany and the gerrys and would like to return and start a business. It's wouldn't be a problem for me to gain their friendship....no matter how long it would take....while living there after a while the germans became very friendly to me and my race didn't matter...with the exception that some will never accept ppl from outside of germany...that's understandable......just sayn
23:34 December 2, 2011 by rwk
Germany would be better off if it accepted more people from the USA & Canada. There are many skilled people from these countries who might even be willing to put up with the high German taxes.
13:16 December 3, 2011 by HelloOutThere
I think there will be a lot of (positive) changes in the (near) future not only with respect to people from abroad being able to work in Germany. This is just the way it goes and I'm looking forward to it.
13:24 December 3, 2011 by ovalle3.14
I can just speak from my experience:

I hold a master's degree obtained in Norway (therefore valid here according to the Lisbon Treaty). I come from Latin America and arrived in Germany because my wife is German. I was basically told "welcome to Germany, good luck with your life", and was offered very cheap (and of very high quality) German lessons up to the B.1 level.

What could be improved?

When you first register yourself in this country, Ausländeramt officers should take a look at your academic background and offer proper guidance in fields like recognizing your foreign degrees, what to do in order to join the respective business chamber, and so on.


Being capitalistic about it, simply because Germany (and any country for that matter) gets more taxes out of an engineer than a minijob-corner shop clerk. It's not a favor, it's simply making it easier for that percentage of us who arrived here and hold high academic qualifications to contribute to society.
16:40 December 4, 2011 by storymann
HelloOutThere , No disrespect intended but where are you getting your facts about the defunct KKK getting bigger?????
19:21 December 4, 2011 by HelloOutThere
@ storyman:

I went to the German wikipedia "Ku-Klux-Klan". When you scroll down to the section "2.2.8 Jüngste Entwicklung" you will see that quote #6 refers to the website of the German news "tagesschau".

Moreover you will easily find further websites on which they discuss this trend when you google "Obama + KKK getting bigger".

Best regards
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