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Western Europe Germany opens its job market to skilled non-EU workers

 Experts are cautiously optimistic about the start of the Immigration Act. "The very name is a clear signal that we are open to specialists from abroad," said OECD migration expert Thomas Liebig of the German Press Agency.

But he also noted: "It would be more important to pay attention to the adaptability and high motivation of immigrants than to formal qualifications." This is also important because technological change will change the world of work in Germany more than in any other country. The new law comes into force this Sunday. Priority check less necessary

So far, only university graduates from non-EU countries without job offers in Germany can look for jobs. From March onwards, specialists can also start looking for a job if they speak German and can make a living. The priority check, which checks whether a domestic applicant is not available, is to be omitted for qualified foreigners with an employment contract. Visas should be issued faster. Free movement of workers continues to apply to EU citizens.

According to observers, practice must show whether all of this brings the hoped-for success. "It is now crucial that the law is implemented with little red tape and friendly to small and medium-sized businesses," says the Central Association of German Crafts (ZDH). "We are already seeing a rapidly increasing number of inquiries." It is often about situations in which craft businesses already know foreign specialists and want to bring them into the country as quickly as possible.

The chair of the expert council of German foundations for integration and migration (SVR), Petra Bendel, emphasized: "It is important to have good language courses, fast visas and that qualifications acquired abroad are recognized quickly. Only then will the law take effect."
More opportunities for post-qualification

It is controversial how the obligation to prove comparable qualifications will work. "Qualifications acquired abroad can often not be compared to German professional qualifications," said Bendel. It is therefore good that the Federal Government has greatly expanded the opportunities for post-qualification in Germany. Marius Clemens from the Institute of German Business (DIW) is more skeptical: "Germany's special training system makes it difficult to provide clear evidence." His conclusion: "Even if the Immigration Act is the first step in the right direction, it will probably only make a small contribution to solving the problem of skilled workers in its current form."

OECD expert Liebig wants more flexibility. "In the German system, one cannot compensate for weaknesses in one area - for example the lack of formally recognized qualifications - for example with good language skills." Language skills in particular are a good yardstick for motivation.

Language acquisition in the country of origin already plays a major role in programs that the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) runs together with the Federal Employment Agency for Specialists. They have been available for the nursing sector for seven years, where experts estimate that around 150,000 additional staff will be needed by 2025.
Realistic picture important

A particular focus is on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, the Philippines and Tunisia, from where, according to the employment agency, 2,220 people have come to Germany in recent years to work in nursing professions. More than 1,000 other people are currently in preparation.

But pilot projects are also underway for the catering and construction industries - especially in North Africa. In cooperation with the Goethe Institute in Morocco, 100 Moroccans are currently undergoing linguistic and cultural training for training in Germany. In six months, the young people should be fit for the German job market.

The program is demanding: "What people do to themselves with this intensive program is enormous," said institute director Susanne Baumgart. "They only do this because there are really few opportunities for them here in Morocco." Youth unemployment is high in the Maghreb states of Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. Many young people study, but then find no suitable job.

In addition to the important language training, the most important thing is to draw a realistic picture of Germany and work in the catering and construction industries. "For some it's a dream that becomes a nightmare when they find themselves alone somewhere in the Bavarian province," said Baumgart. After all: According to GIZ, three quarters of the more than 100 participants from a first pilot phase that started in 2017 are still in training and will soon take their final exams. (Mho)

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