Germany in need of skilled Indian professionals
Posted September 11, 2008on:
The earlier Green Card scheme in Germany – which was mainly targeted at attracting IT professionals – had attracted a large number of Indians to live and work there. However, now Germany’s new Immigration Act, which has replaced the Green Card scheme, too is focused on attracting more skilled workers to Germany in areas such as natural sciences, engineering, technology, academicians and scientists. In fact, the new immigration policy does not limit itself to IT and addresses the broader issue of huge skills shortages across the economy and an ageing workforce. From 2005, when the new policy was announced, Germany has been easing rules for highly skilled workers to move to the country and gain permanent residence status.
In fact, the new immigration Act, provides for highly qualified persons to be granted permanent residence and permission to work from the beginning, rather than five-year work permits as was previously the case. For this, the applicants have to have a job offer and get permission from the German employment agency. The new rules have also removed a lot of red tape and applicants can now get their papers including work and residence permits processed at one central place which is the German embassy in their home country.
Another big advantage is that family members of highly skilled workers, too, can now work in Germany, thus making it simpler for families to relocate. Self-employed Indians, too, will be able to move to Germany now under the new law, provided they invest one million euros and create ten new German .
Sunita Phadnis Otto, solicitor and immigration lawyer in Germany says, “Over last 2-3 years the number of Indians applying for permanent residence permits seems to be increasing. The time taken to get the permanent residence permit differs from city to city and generally one may obtain it within 8 to 10 weeks.”
With the number of Indian students going to study in Germany is steadily increasing over the years, the new scheme to allow foreign graduates of German universities an extra year to look for jobs after they finish their courses is seen as a huge advantage. Previously it was difficult for foreign students to remain in Germany upon completion of their studies.Germany has always been a very popular destination for Indian students in the fields of technology and sciences. Currently there are around 4,500 Indian students going to Germany annually for studies. Exchanges of students and young researchers is a pillar of the Indo-German academic partnership which paves the way for research co-operation.
Over the last decade, the number of Indian students in Germany has grown five times. For a certain segment of students from India, Germany is the most preferred foreign campus destination with its top class research facilities. For international students, the choice of courses is wide and varied. There are 376 higher education institutions including 102 universities, 170 universities of applied sciences with a strong practical orientation, 69 private colleges working closely with industry and 53 state recognised colleges of art, music and film. Also, there are at present around 1000 programmes where the medium of instruction is English.
The cost of education in Germany is very low compared to various other countries. German universities have affordable tuition fees as they are subsidised by public funds. Indian students would pay around Rs 4.5 lakh per year for higher studies in Germany. They are also allowed to work part-time for 180 half days off-campus per year. The language barrier is not a problem for international degree programmes where the language of choice is almost always English. For all other programmes, proof of German language proficiency needs to be provided for which there are two options: the TestDaF and the DSH. Both test writing, reading and listening skills and have an oral exam as well. Germany needs IT specialists and engineers for research projects, thus making it easy for students to find employment after they finish their courses. “Today, Indians account for the highest incomes among immigrants and most of them are professionals in fields such as medicine, science and business,” a spokesperson at the embassy of Germany in New Delhi says.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) facilitates scholarships and has been actively helping Indian students to study in Germany. Apoorv Mahendru, events and promotions manager DAAD Delhi says “Indo-German scientific and technological co-operation started nearly five decades back, with exchange projects and partnerships. A new milestone is the agreement signed between IIT Chennai and Germany to jointly promote education and research. From 2009, and within the framework of DAAD’s ‘A New Passage to India’ programme, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) will fund the establishment of a centre of excellence for engineering and environmental sciences at IIT Madras.” The centre of excellence will also include a preparation centre, where Indian students can learn the German language and culture.
“The application process for German universities is – with the exception of a few subjects – not a centralised affair, as is the case in some other countries. Consequently, you have to apply to the individual universities you are interested in separately. That means, checking the websites for deadlines and contacting the relevant international offices for specific information and application forms,” says the embassy official.
Studies or research are the best way to get in touch with German companies who prefer highly skilled individuals. Highly qualified persons such as scientists, and chief executives don’t face a problem in taking up job in Germany. But for individuals seeking jobs in the private sector, a minimum annual income of EUR 85,000 is a must to get a work permit.
An area where the German immigration authorities have become more strict is in making it necessary for the spouses of work permit holders to have knowledge of German. “Spouses of work permit holders working in Germany for a temporary period may get exemption from the condition of having knowledge of German language. However, if the work permit holder and the spouse are willing to stay in Germany for a longer period, it makes sense and it is also helpful for integration in the German society if at least them is able to speak basic German,” says Ms. Phadnis Otto.
Indians generally possess qualifications and experience good enough to get top jobs in Germany. The presence of skilled Indians is seen across sectors such as business, banking and IT. A good example is Anshu Jain, co-head of Deutsche Bank’s corporate and investment bank division.
Business is another area where Indians have done well in Germany. Dr Seshu Bhagavatula is a division manager with carmaker Daimler in Stuttgart. He chose to study electrical engineering in Stuttgart because he was attracted by the international aerospace projects that Stuttgart University carried out at that time together with NASA. Mohan Murti, head of Trevira in Germany, is another prominent Indian. The brand was recently taken over by Reliance Industries. Out of 18 years in Europe, Mr Murti has spent 12 years in Germany.