Germany looks outside EU to fill skills gaps

A radical proposal to allow 50,000 skilled foreign workers from outside the
EU to enter Germany every year has been put forward by a high-level independent
commission in the country.

The plan has been drawn up to counter rapid population decline and growing
skills shortages.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder said the proposal formed a good basis for
a new immigration law that the government hopes to pass this year.

Germany’s 82 million population is projected to fall by 23 million by 2050,
and demographers have predicted that hundreds of thousands of immigrants will
be needed every year to fill the gaps.

The independent commission recommends that in the first year of the
immigration programme, 20,000 workers should be granted permanent residency,
20,000 be given five-year permits to work in sectors where there are skills
shortages and 10,000 should get temporary permits.

European HR consultant Peter Reid thought the proposal was progressive, but
was concerned it could lead to a "brain drain" from countries seeking
to join the EU, such as Poland.

"I have general concerns that the most skilled members of the workforce
will be the ones that leave these countries," he said.

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