June 14, 2013

IMMIGRANTS IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT:

Erasmus generation : To overcome its skills shortage, Germany needs to remodel its society (The Economist, Jun 15th 201)

A YEAR AGO Werner Santiago Medina was an unemployed engineer in Las Palmas, the biggest city in Spain's Canary Islands. Today he is an electrician in Munich, employed by a small firm that specialises in converting old office buildings. He has brought his family and is slowly learning German. His seven-year-old daughter is already fluent. He still supports Barcelona football team but reckons his future is in Germany.

Mr Medina's path from the Canaries to Bavaria was mapped, in part, by Heinrich Traublinger, proprietor of a string of Munich bakeries, who heads the Upper Bavarian craftsmen's trade association. Mr Traublinger was shocked by a 2011 survey of his 79,000 members which showed that more than one in six of them was short of workers. When he saw television reports of high Spanish unemployment not long afterwards, he spotted an opportunity. The trade association now runs a scheme to attract Spanish craftsmen of many kinds, from bakers to stonemasons. It organises interviews via Skype and provides help with accommodation and German lessons.

Messrs Medina and Traublinger are at the leading edge of a trend that could transform Germany. With the world's second-oldest population (after Japan) and one of the lowest birth rates in Europe, the country is facing a demographic bust.

The question isn't whether the developed world will allow mass immigration, but what it can offer to entice same.

Posted by at June 14, 2013 6:24 PM
  

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