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Germany Amends Immigration Law to Attract Skilled Workers

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CEM REPORT, MIGRATION | The German parliament on Friday approved a new immigration law designed to attract skilled workers to the country, a critical step needed to save the economy from its unprecedented labour shortage in major sectors.

“This draft law secures prosperity in Germany,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said as she presented the government’s plan in the chamber while urging that bureaucratic hurdles be dismantled during its implementation.

“The shortage of skilled labor is considered one of the biggest brakes on economic growth in Germany, and skilled workers are missing everywhere,” Faeser added. She described the legislation as “a huge step for the future of our country.”

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Germany is hit with huge skilled workers shortage which posses a threat to the productivity and prosperity of the country as companies struggle to fill vacant.

In 2022, the country’s labour shortage rose to an all-time high hitting 1.74 million vacant positions throughout Germany according to the Institute for Employment Research (IAB). This Munich-based research institute IFO said has affected almost half of all companies surveyed in July forcing them to slow down their operations.

The Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) gave a higher figure of more than half of Germany’s companies; 22,000, with 53% reporting shortages.

According to the IFO survey, the service sector is the worst hit – especially the accommodation and event industries.

This is followed by warehousing and storage, service providers, and manufacturing – particularly in the food, data processing equipment, machinery and metal manufacturing sectors. Many retail businesses, construction companies and wholesalers have also reported staff shortages.

Germany electrical engineer

Immigration law in Germany is said to have been laden with bureaucracy with stringent requirements especially for non-European immigrants.

During a press conference held at the Federal Office for Foreign Affairs (BfAA) on 17 January 2023, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said modernising the visa process would mean “turning it upside down”.

Together with Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, she pushed that bureaucracy be removed to improve digitisation and efficiency of the system.

“We know that we can only guarantee our future, the efficiency of our economy and the efficiency of our social security systems if we have enough skilled workers at our disposal,” said Scholz.

“From within the European Union that’s not so difficult, because there is freedom of movement. With regard to the rest of the world, it is a greater challenge,” he added.

The law which scaled through by majority votes on Friday includes a points-based system that lowers entry hurdles for applicants according to their professional qualifications, age and language skills. Some major introductions are the Opportunity Card and Recognition of Degrees.

The new ‘Opportunity card’ now allow foreigners without a pre-arranged job to come to Germany for a period of one year to seek employment. Possession of vocational qualification or a university degree qualifies individuals for the opportunity card.

The allocation of opportunity cards will be based on fulfilling specific criteria, which will earn applicants points. These criteria may include proficiency in German and/or English, established connections to Germany, and the possibility of accompanying life partners or spouses in the German labor market.

In addition to facilitating job search, the opportunity card will also grant the flexibility of engaging in part-time employment of up to 20 hours per week and participating in probationary work.

The second hurdle removed is the recognition of degrees which before now requires an individual to posses a degree recognized by Germany.

[READ ALSO] Recession Hits Germany

In the future, skilled immigrants will no longer have to have their degrees recognized in Germany if they can show they have at least two years of professional experience and a degree that is state-recognized in their country of origin.

Someone who already has a job offer can already come to Germany and start working while their degree is still being recognized.

The new law is expected to attract skilled workers from other countries around the world into Germany. Specifically targeted are skilled craftspeople, electrical engineers, IT specialists, carers, nurses, catering and hospitality professionals.

According to EU publication, IT specialists with relevant job experience will receive EU Blue Cards even if they do not possess a university degree, according to German news channel DW.

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