The New Guest Workers: Part 1 – A German Dream for Crisis Refugees

Published on Spiegel Online International, by SPIEGEL Staff, February 28, 2013 (Photo Gallery).

A new generation of highly qualified immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe is seeking a future in Germany. Young, well-educated and multilingual, they are precisely what the German economy needs to ensure success in the future. The country has its work cut out if it wants these “godsends” to stay.  

Half a century after her grandfather took the train from Seville, Spain, to Germany, Carolina López, 28, bought a ticket on a budget airline to Berlin. It was the dismal situation in Spain that prompted her to make the move in the late summer of 2012. The Spanish economy is reeling, and one in four Spaniards is unemployed. Joblessness is especially rampant among young people. López went to Germany looking for work and, most of all, a future.

It was a similarly distressed situation at home that prompted her grandfather to go to Germany in 1961, because he couldn’t make enough money in Spain to feed his family … //

… A Struggle to Find Qualified Workers:

The first members of the baby-boomer generation, the children of Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder, or economic miracle, are now entering retirement. The country will lack about 5.5 million skilled workers by 2025. Companies in Germany’s booming regions are already feeling the shortage today. According to a poll by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, three out of four owners of small-to-midsized businesses say that they are having trouble finding qualified workers. One in three has already had to turn down contracts because of labor shortages, reports the Federal Association of Small and Mid-Sized Businesses.

Not long ago, politicians and journalists decided that Germany was not an immigration country, and that German society couldn’t handle any additional immigration. Immigrants were treated like a plague, a threat or at least a burden. The main goal of immigration policy was to prevent immigration.
It was successful. In 2008 and 2009, more people turned their backs on Germany than chose to go there, turning it into a country of emigration. According to a study by the Bertelsmann Foundation, the think tank aligned with the multinational German media giant, academics and business executives were especially prone to leave the country.

There has never been a culture of attracting people to Germany, inviting them and making it as easy as possible for them to feel at home there. Now demographics and the shortage of workers are forcing the Germans to overcome their suspicions and actually woo immigrants. Instead of asking immigrants “When are you leaving?” Germans should be saying: “Please stay!”
(full text).

Part 2: Living Proof of the Idea of a United Europe;
Part 3: Germany Must Offer Its New Migrants a Reason To Stay;
Part 4: Germany Greeted Me with Open Arms.

Links:

Peerlusconi: Clowning Around with SPD Candidate Steinbrück, on Spiegel Online International, by Charles Hawley, March 1, 2013;

German Politics: Related articles, background features and opinions about this topic, on Spiegel Online International;

Google News Tax battle: German lawmakers back watered-down Internet copyright law, on Russia Today RT, March 2, 2013.

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