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Germany relaxes rules on immigration

September 2013, 13
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A new report has revealed that Germany is actively encouraging skilled migrants to move to the country, a stark contrast to the historical immigration policy traditionally held. 
Germany is well-known for being particularly tough to emigrate to, with tough criteria on skills, salary and available investments for those wanting to come to the country. However, this is all set to change as the Teutonic nation relaxes the rules in a bid to attract skilled immigrants. 
Past political policies
Germany has rather a chequered history when it comes to its attitudes to immigrants, whether it's those arriving from another country or its own residents with a mixed ethnic background.
There is an established Turkish community within Germany but despite numbers running into the millions, this group has always been treated with disdain and considered a 'drain' on the economy. Those attempting to emigrate from overseas have faced an even greater uphill battle to be accepted, with Germany imposing a high minimum salary and challenging investment standards that need to be met in order to stand a chance of being granted leave to stay.
Germany relaxes rules on immigration
The problem stretches as far back as the 1960s when the country relied upon a huge contingent of foreign workers to help rebuild its shattered cities after the devastation of World War II. But despite this reliance, foreign workers were never given any encouragement or assistance to integrate, with steps such as learning the language seen as unnecessary. 
Even recent political campaigns from the otherwise astute Chancellor Angela Merkel have made it clear that the country looks after its own and isn't interested in helping immigrants. 
Germany's dilemma
However, these past policies have caused a very big problem in the labour market and there are now far too many jobs for the workers which are available. 
The changing landscape of the demographics is also forcing the German government to have a rethink. One in three school children and a fifth of all residents have some kind of migrant background so continuing to insist on excluding other nations is no longer viable, or acceptable. 
Since the reunification of Germany, unemployment has tumbled and is now at its lowest level. However, this combined with the shrinking population means that by 2025 it is estimated there will be a shortage of around 5.4 million skilled workers. 
The government has attempted to persuade women and retired workers to plug the gaps in the employment market but there is a growing divide which the population alone simply cannot fulfil. 
Germany urges immigrants to arrive
This dearth of available skills has led to one of the most rapid turnarounds in policies seen, with Germany now proactively courting skilled workers in a bid to increase immigration. 
Figures from the OECD reveal that since 2010 there has been a slow increase in the number of long term immigrants arriving in the country. 
The process began with Germany relaxing its rules on skilled workers, revising the minimum salary and dropping the investment requirements. However, it has now taken its unravelling of the recruitment ban even further, getting rid of a further 40% of its immigration rules to try and attract medium skilled workers such as electricians and train drivers, both of which are in urgent demand in Germany. 
Germany skilled immigrants
The turnaround in its immigration policies has been so great that Germany now has some of the most lenient immigration rules for skilled workers in the whole of the 34 nations in the OECD.
And there are signs that Germany wooing immigrants is starting to have an impact, with the population growing in 2011, the first time that has been recorded in more than a decade. 
But despite the improvements, the European country still has some way to go to catch up with nations such as Canada who have traditionally embraced immigrants and the skills which they bring. Relative to the size of the population, Germany still only attracts a tenth of the foreign workers who go to Canada. 
So with a fresh new approach to immigrants, Germany is ready to welcome all arrivals with open arms and a bucket loads of jobs to pick from.

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