Germany to ease entry rules for skilled foreign workers due to labour shortages

The German government has agreed to relax immigration rules in order to attract qualified workers to its labor market.

To accomplish this, the German government will implement a point-based system similar to Canada’s in order to hire people who speak German or have the necessary qualifications.

The country’s Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said the changes would create “the most modern law on immigration in Europe”.

The Points-based system: The three-party ruling coalition wants to introduce an “opportunity card”, based on a points system that would assess non-EU applicants by taking into account factors such as language skills and work experience.

The reform will therefore include the following:

  • Simplification of the process for recognising foreign qualifications and allowing unskilled workers to fill certain sectors.
  • Shortening the time for immigrants living in Germany to obtain citizenship, that is, 3 years instead of 8 years
  • The immigrant has to prove they have some German language skills
  • Changing the constitution to allow dual citizenship, which is largely banned in Germany.

Criticisms trail move: Meanwhile, Germany’s conservative opposition leader Friedrich Merz has criticised the move. According to him, the country has over two million unemployed people within its borders and has failed to exploit the potential this presents.

Germany’s ageing population: Germany already has an ageing workforce as well as a lack of workers in construction, health and IT which is why Labour Minister Hubertus Heil indicated that seven million skilled workers would be needed by 2035.

Germany, which is Europe’s largest economy, requires an additional 400,000 foreign workers annually, according to analysts.

Although Germany benefits from EU-wide freedom of movement, people do not want to move there because “the bureaucracy is terrible, the taxes are too high.”

The implication for Nigerians: This comes as good news for Nigerian professionals in Healthcare, IT and construction who are seeking job opportunities in Europe and other parts of the world. Lately, healthcare and IT professionals have had the most opportunities but those in construction can now take advantage of the reform.

The onus remains on Nigerian professionals to improve their German language skills which are critical to finding employment and living in Germany.

Something to consider: Although Germany has become a “country of hope” for people seeking to start a new life abroad, not all German politicians support immigration reforms allowing foreign workers in. Some German conservatives have argued that now is not the time to simplify citizenship law, especially since the government has yet to make progress in deporting those with no legal right to stay in the country. 

It may also take months for the proposals to be considered by the Bundestag (Germany’s parliament). But as Economics Minister Robert Habeck stated, there is now an urgency to address the issue. So, it may happen sooner than expected. 

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