The Economy in Germany

Mobility in Europe – Improved Opportunities and New Paths

Andreas Roger; © Europäische UnionMobility in Europe; © Colourbox“Make it in Germany” – is the joint website of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and the Federal Ministry of Labour and its main task is to recruit young skilled workers. It is the first time a web portal has compiled all the important information required to make a career and a life in Germany. It informs people about the fields in which skilled workers are required and about the prerequisites for working in Germany. The scheme however is not the only one whose mission is to promote professional mobility in Europe.

„Make it in Germany“; Graphic: Federal Government/Employment Agency

Something has happened - but what? Seven or eight years ago there were lots of skilled workers in the more depressed regions of Germany like Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania or the Eifel looking for jobs or training programs in neighbouring countries, now the trend has been reversed. Andreas Roger, for example, from the Rostock branch of the Zentrale Arbeitsvermittlung (ZAV) (Central office for International Placement and Specialty Professions), a department of the Federal Ministry of Labour, focuses more in getting foreign skilled workers interested in Germany than finding jobs for skilled workers abroad, “Of course people are still interested in going abroad, but today there are many who only want to do a stint abroad to improve their career prospects,“ says Roger.

EURES paves the way

Andreas Roger is one of about 850 EURES consultants who are to be found all over Europe. They maintain close contact with people who would like to work in other countries. According to EU statistics there are still too few of these people. It is only two per cent of EU citizens who live and work on a permanent basis in a country that is not their own. EURES was set up by the EU in 1993 to change this situation. EURES (European Employment Services) provides interested workers with information on professional mobility and has access to job search engines and the consultants’ network. Just one click and, hey presto, job vacancies in 31 European countries appear on the screen. These vacancies are updated in real-time.

The response has been great - in crisis-ridden countries in particular like Greece, Portugal, Italy and Spain more and more skilled workers are becoming interested in working in Germany. “The industrial and craft sectors are looking for plant mechanics and pipe fitters, the catering sector for chefs and hospitality specialists, clinics for doctors and nurses,” lists Andreas Roger. The ZAV has just entered into an agreement with the Goethe-Institut, stipulating that people attending their language courses will be informed about job opportunities in Germany, “This fits in perfectly with the new federal program for the promotion of professional mobility in Europe, entitled ‘MobiPro-EU’ for short,” says Roger. “We are not operating a huge recruitment program, but, in cooperation with schools and labour administrations, we want to show what possibilities Germany has to offer.”

Combating youth unemployment in Europe with “MobiPro-EU”

Screenshot “Skilled labour initiative“; © Federal Government/Employment Agency Since January 2013 the “MobiPro-EU” program has been supporting young unemployed skilled workers and potential trainees from the EU if they want to do a training course or take a job in Germany. Preference is given to applications for jobs in understaffed professions. In this way the German federal government is actually contributing to lowering unemployment in its neighbouring EU countries. In France 26 per cent of people under 25 are without a job, in Italy and Portugal it is 35 per cent. In Greece and Spain it is more than every second young adult who is jobless. In Germany, on the other hand, it is only eight per cent of the under-25s who do not have a job or an apprenticeship/traineeship.

The program is geared to young people between the ages of 18 and 25, an exception is made in the case of nursing care, enabling people up to the age of 40 to take part. There is also funding available for those who do a language course in their home country to prepare them for their job abroad. Those who carry on learning German after starting their job in Germany are also sponsored. Flat-rate travel expenses are paid for placements and job interviews, along with further assistance if required.

PLOTEUS: The EU Learning Portal

PLOTEUS Logo; © European CommissionStudying in Europe has also become much more simple. In Germany the federal government has improved the system for recognising professional qualifications that have been acquired in another country. Vice-versa, German workers who have been through the German “Dual Training System” that combines study and work are very much appreciated in other countries.

Anybody who would like to study architecture in Italy or train to become a restorer in Poland can avail him or herself of PLOTEUS. The portal has information, for example, on what the school system in Sweden is like for a family that is planning to move to Sweden; it answers the question whether Dublin has a university for senior citizens and it can help a young wine grower to find a position with a vineyard in the Rhone valley.

PLOTEUS provides information on learning opportunities in Europe, it’s something like the opposite number to EURES. In ancient Greek the word means navigator and stands for “Portal on Learning Opportunities Throughout European Space”. All kinds of information can be accessed, ranging from all you need to know about both general and advanced training schemes, information on the different education systems to be found in Europe, not to mention exchange programs and grants (Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci, Sokrates, Grundtvig ).

Sought and found

Mobility can be so simple. Since February 2012 Antonio Prados Vilchez (27) has been employed at dSpace, a hard and soft ware company in Paderborn. “Two dreams came true for me,” says the engineer who had studied telecommunications and electrical engineering. “ First of all I am happy to have found a job and, secondly, to be able to live and work in Germany.” Apart from various student jobs and placements the position at dSpace is the first regular job the young Spaniard has had. How it all came about can be told in a few short words - In November 2011 he was invited to an event that had been organised by the ZAV in cooperation with the Spanish labour administration. This was where he first came into contact with the company from North-Rhine Westphalia that was later to become his employer. The fact that he only had a basic knowledge of German did not bother the personnel recruitment staff from dSpace. On the contrary they released the newly arrived member of their team for the first month of his job so that he could do an intensive language course. Electrical engineers, as we know, are quite rare in Germany.

Antonio will not be the only foreign skilled worker to find a job in Germany. It is also not quite clear just how many people decide to add an extra year on to their placement or course in Paris or Munich by taking a job there. That is what is so special about this Europe of ours - the Europe of free movement: there are no exact figures because today every EU citizen can move from one country to another without any problems and without having to inform the authorities.

Volker Thomas
is a freelance journalist based in Berlin and runs an agency for texts and design (www.thomas-ppr.de).

Translation: Paul McCarthy
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
February 2013

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