Immigration country Germany: Who wants to come anyway?

Berlin The federal government wants to make Germany more attractive as an immigration country and to change the migration law. The idea that “per se all skilled workers in the world” want to come to Germany is “unfortunately an illusion,” said Federal Minister of Labor Hubertus Heil (SPD) after the federal cabinet had passed the key points of the reform on Wednesday. This applies if only because of the language hurdle, because only about 100 million people worldwide speak German.

But what about the interest of foreigners in working and living in Germany? What expectations are associated with this? And how willing are you to catch up on missing qualifications or language skills?

A large-scale survey by the industrialized countries’ organization OECD on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Labor is now providing initial answers to these questions. From the beginning of August to mid-October, almost 30,000 international specialists who were recruited via the “Make it in Germany” web portal or German missions abroad took part.

The non-representative survey therefore includes foreigners who are interested in moving to Germany and have already obtained information on the Internet or from embassies and consulates or have taken the first steps. More than half of those surveyed have firm intentions of moving to Germany. Almost 11,000 respondents from the first wave took part in the first follow-up survey in September. The most important results:

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How old and how qualified are the potential immigrants?

Two thirds of those questioned are between 25 and 44 years old, but four out of ten are at least 35 years old. However, the relatively old age can also be explained by the level of education: three out of four respondents have studied, 52 percent have a bachelor’s degree, 23 percent have a master’s or doctorate.

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With regard to academics, however, German immigration law is already very liberal. Political efforts are therefore aimed at attracting more immigrants with vocational training, such as craftsmen.

However, only 16 percent of the interested parties surveyed have a vocational qualification after one to three years of training. Nine percent have neither a professional nor a university degree. It is striking that 70 percent of all potential immigrants are men.

Which nationalities are interested in moving to Germany?

Indians already make up the largest group among migrant workers from countries outside the European Union. And the OECD survey shows continued interest. Almost every fifth participant comes from India, followed by Colombia (ten percent of those surveyed), Turkey (nine percent), the Philippines (five percent) and Algeria (four percent).

How important are the welcoming culture and the language?

In the heated debate about easier naturalization, the survey supports the position of Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD), who wants to grant German citizenship to well-integrated foreigners more quickly and make dual citizenship the rule.

Federal Minister Hubertus Heil, Nancy Faeser, Robert Habeck and Bettina Stark-Watzinger (from left)

The traffic light coalition wants to make immigration and naturalization easier.

(Photo: dpa)

When asked what is most important to them in the country of their dreams, around 60 percent of respondents said they had a positive attitude towards migrants. Nine out of ten participants would be willing to complete any further training that may be required – but only if they work part-time and are then allowed to stay in Germany permanently.

A good education system is at the top of the list of ideal immigration countries. This also has to do with the fact that more than half of those surveyed have families and the majority would also like to bring partners and children to Germany.

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Language skills are perhaps not as big of a problem as the Minister of Labor believes: more than half of those surveyed have at least basic knowledge of German, and one in seven already speaks the language at an advanced level.

>> Read here: Germany lacks around 326,000 STEM experts

Can the potential migrants help close the skills gap?

Almost half state that they work in a shortage occupation – i.e. where qualified personnel is particularly scarce. This applies, for example, to professions that require training in the so-called MINT subjects of math, computer science, natural sciences and technology. Almost a quarter of those surveyed work in engineering and 15 percent are IT specialists.

What obstacles do those who want to immigrate see?

Many find it difficult to find a suitable job offer in Germany from their home country and would like support in doing so. The federal government is planning a so-called “opportunity card” that will also allow foreigners without a specific job offer to enter Germany. How the planned points system with criteria such as age, qualifications, professional experience and language skills in German should look like is still open.

>> Read here: The CDU suffers from a loss of reality in the immigration debate, says Handelsblatt editor-in-chief Sebastian Matthes

For foreigners surveyed by the OECD, a 12-month job-seeking visa would be an attractive option. In the follow-up survey, nine out of ten participants said they would be willing to apply for such a visa.

A third of them would only do so under certain conditions. It is important to them that they can occasionally work on the side until the right job is found – and that they are supported in their job search.

More: The immigration illusion – why more immigration won’t save us from labor shortages

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