By Moustafa Daly
Despite taking in a record number of migrants over the past decade, Germany, like many industrialized nations, is suffering a skilled labor shortage which experts have estimated is costing its economy a jaw-dropping $85 billion per year in lost output.
Addressing this issue, the German government has announced it will introduce a green-card equivalent, namely Chancenkarte, in a bid to attract foreign talent to Europe’s biggest economy to shore up its estimated half-a-million workforce shortage – most pronounced in the health care, IT and construction sectors per local media reports.
“More and more companies are cutting back on their business because there just aren’t enough workers,” said Stefan Sauer, a labor market expert at the Ifo Institute in Munich to DW. “In the medium and long term, this problem is likely to get even worse.”
The point-based green card system will enable foreign workers, for the first time ever, to arrive legally in Germany in order to seek employment, given that they are aged 35 or less, have a university degree, three years of professional experience, and in possession of German language skills or having previously legally resided in the country. The stated goal of the new system is to attract 400,000 immigrants to Germany every year.
The draft bill of the Chancenkarte will be put before the Bundestag (German parliament) at the beginning of 2023.
What about foreigners already in Germany?
Foreigners already residing in Germany for at least five years by October 31, 2022, on temporary residence or ‘tolerated stay’ permits will be granted an 18 months window of “opportunity right of residence” as per a recently-approved law, enabling them to obtain permanent residence in the country should they be able to meet all the criteria within the time window.
A tolerated stay permit is for foreigners who should technically leave the country, but whose stay is tolerated by authorities as their departure is temporarily not feasible due to a number of reasons including severe illnesses, caring for a sick relative, lack of identification papers, among others.
“We want people who are already well integrated to have a fair chance of staying,” said Nancy Faeser, Federal Minister of the Interior, in a statement.
The new law is another attempt by the German lawmakers to address the labor shortage in the market, an issue which is anticipated to remain a top priority for German government and lawmakers in the foreseeable future.
“We won’t make any headway in terms of economic policy without more skilled workers, that means we’re compelled to act quickly and decisively,” said Robert Habeck, Germany’s economy minister, in a recent press conference.
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