The 2012/01/27 at 08:00
Cécile Boutelet, in Berlin
Goethe’s language is regaining popularity. With the euro crisis placing a strain on growth in Southern Europe and the job market boom in Germany, Southern Europeans are experiencing a real enthusiasm for the German language. According to the Goethe Institute in Spain, “the request for German lessons has doubled in the space of a year”. And for good reason: according to Eurostat, the European institute for statistics, 40% of young Spaniards are unemployed, a level unequalled throughout the European Union. Many young graduates have profiles that are interesting for Germany, a country undergoing a cruel lack of qualified staff in certain branches. Employer federations regularly remind that due to the country’s demographic evolution, Germany will be short of five million qualified workers by 2030, with half of this figure representing tertiary graduates. These figures have not escaped the attention of emigration candidates.
According to the latest report of its Federal Migration Office, Germany recorded a largely positive migratory balance in 2010: the record figure of +127 000 persons. Almost 800,000 foreigners have come to try their luck in the country, from Central Europe but also Southern Europe. For several months, the German Employment Office has been organising recruitment fairs with Chambers of Commerce in Southern Europe. “There is great potential in Spain,” confirms Monika Varnhagen, from the German agency for skills placement overseas ZAC. “Thousands of engineers are unemployed, including IT specialists. Interest in Germany is huge. But for placement, big barriers remain, namely a lack of language skills.” Last June, 17,000 registered on the EURES European job mobility portal, looking for a job in Germany. Young Spaniards are not the only ones to interest the German Employment Office. Fairs have also been organised in Greece, Thessalonica and Portugal.
“In Portugal, many engineers are out of work, but few young graduates speak German. The country also has good training programmes for care workers, of whom there is a lack in Germany,” continues Monika Varnhagen. In Greece, doctors are the ones targeted.These transfers may be opportunities for young graduates, but in the long term, aren’t they dangerous for the Southern European countries that lose their talent? The Employment office insists on its desire to set up a “win-win” relationship, for recruited workers can then bring back home their savoir-faire acquired in Germany. Another element to consider is that international competition is tough for the market of qualified workers ready for expatriation: “Many young graduates still prefer to learn English, reputed to be easier to master. New Zealand, Canada and Australia attract high numbers of foreign qualified labour, with very attractive offers. We are far from this culture in Germany,” regrets Monika Varnhagen.