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Germany top career choice for Brits fleeing Brexit

A new report shows that for those Brits already packing their bags and briefcases in anticipation of Brexit, Germany is by far the top destination.

Germany top career choice for Brits fleeing Brexit
Travellers at the airport in Frankfurt, Germany's financial hub. Photo: DPA.

The survey published on Wednesday by international online job board StepStone showed that some 600,000 skilled British workers are estimated to be planning to move their careers to another EU country.

And Germany was by far the top choice of where to go with 44 percent of respondents listing the Bundesrepublik as their goal.

The next top choice was France, followed by Spain, the Netherlands and Ireland.

“One-third of highly skilled British workers can imagine themselves continuing their careers in another EU country, 600,000 are already concretely planning how to change their jobs,” said StepStone Germany’s director Dr. Sebastian Dettmers in a statement.

“Therefore Brexit has the potential to relieve the shortage of skilled workers in Germany. Businesses in Germany can profit from immigration and a strengthening of locations.”

StepStone surveyed 40,000 workers in the UK, Ireland and Germany to find out how people were feeling after Britain voted to leave the EU.

The report noted that German expats working in the UK were especially looking to move back to their homeland with more than half saying that they could imagine hopping off the island for work, while nearly 40 percent were already working on transferring their job elsewhere.

Other job-hunting sites told The Local that in the wake of the Brexit vote, they saw an uptick in UK residents searching for jobs, especially in Germany.

Berlin-based Jobspotting previously reported that the site saw four times as much traffic from Great Britain in June than it had in May. also told The Local that their site saw a 30 percent increase in UK applicants to jobs in Europe in the week right after the referendum, and a 71 percent increase in UK users applying for jobs in Germany over the past week.

But the website also reported that after the vote there was a more than 40 percent increase in people from other EU states looking to get jobs in the UK.

“We assume these are all people trying to get a job before Article 50 is triggered or Brexit is confirmed,” said Director Rhys Maddocks.

Bracing for Brexit

Many Brits in the StepStone survey said that they assume their careers will be more harmed than helped by Brexit.

About half of those surveyed said that an exit from the EU would have a negative impact on their homeland’s economy. Respondents in Northern Ireland were particularly pessimistic, with 60 percent predicting a blow to the economy, compared to 52 percent of Scottish people.

One-third believed that their own employers would in the future be less successful. Four in ten expected that their prospects for jobs in the future would get worse and 34 percent said that their own salaries would take a hit because of Brexit.

“Human resources directors in Germany should take advantage of the increased willingness of British workers to change jobs to target candidates,” Dettmers said.

“Now more than ever is the time to post job advertisements in English as well and to direct our market-leading job boards towards the UK and Northern Ireland.”

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What you need to know about Germany’s points-based immigration plans

Germany wants to make it easier for non-EU citizens to enter the country to help combat the shortage of skilled workers with the so-called "opportunity card". Here’s what you need to know.

What you need to know about Germany's points-based immigration plans

As The Local has been reporting, Germany is currently facing a huge gap in its labour force, with the Labour Ministry predicting a shortfall of 240,000 skilled workers by 2026.

This week, Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil presented the initial details of a new points-based immigration system, which is designed to make it easier for people to come to Germany to work. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The German industries ‘most affected’ by skilled worker shortage

The new Chancenkarte (“opportunity card”) presented by the SPD politician is broadly similar to the Canadian points system, and will offer foreign nationals the chance to come to Germany to look for work even without a job offer, as long as they fulfil at least three of the following criteria:

1) A university degree or professional qualification

2) Professional experience of at least three years

3) Language skill or previous residence in Germany

4) Aged under 35 

Holders of this opportunity card would then have one year to look for a job and would have to finance themselves during that period. 

According to the Labour Minister, the German government will set a yearly quota for the number of people who will be able to come to Germany with an opportunity card, based on the needs of the labour market.

“It is about qualified immigration, about a non-bureaucratic procedure,” Heil told WDR radio. “That is why it is important that those who have received the opportunity card can make a living when they are here.”

Speaking about the proposals, Professor Panu Poutvaara, Director of the ifo Center for International Institutional Comparisons and Migration Research told the Local: “I welcome the government proposal. Germany needs more workers at different skill levels. What is important is that this should complement the current opportunities to come to Germany also from outside the European Union with an existing job offer, not replace these. I assume that the proposal is meant only to extend the current options, but the precise proposal is not yet circulated.”


According to a survey by the Munich-based Ifo Institute, the vast majority of companies in Germany are currently struggling with the issue of a shortage of skilled workers. The survey showed that 87 percent are facing worker shortages and more than a third of respondents see it as a threat to competitiveness. 

“The shortage of qualified employees, and meanwhile of employees in general, is the third threat to Germany as a business location, alongside shortages of raw materials and energy,” Rainer Kirchdörfer, CEO of the Family Business Foundation told die Welt. 

Changes to immigration and citizenship laws ‘high priority’

The proposed measure is part of a package of reforms to immigration law which will be presented later in autumn.

The government also wants to make it easier for people to hold multiple nationalities and make naturalisation of foreigners easier. In future, naturalisation will be possible after five years instead of eight years currently, and as little as three years in cases where people are deemed to have integrated particularly well.

“We need more immigration,” Heil told Bild am Sonntag. “To this end, the traffic light will present a modern immigration law in autumn. We are introducing an opportunity card with a transparent points system so that people our country needs can come to us more easily.”

READ ALSO: INTERVIEW: ‘Changing German citizenship laws is a priority’

A spokesperson from the Interior Ministry recently told The Local that the changes are a “high priority” but they could take time. 

They said: “The modernisation of citizenship law agreed in the coalition agreement of the governing parties is a high priority for the federal government. There are also plans to make dual and multiple citizenships generally possible.

“The careful preparation and implementation of this important reform project is underway, but will take some time because fundamental amendments to the Citizenship Act must be prepared for this purpose.”