Blue Card: Opportunities for Indian IT professionals in Germany

by Subramanian 2012-09-26 13:03:02

Ever since the German green card scheme, that was meant to attract IT professionals from non-EU countries, was discontinued in December 2004, Indian techies have missed it badly. The scheme, which came into effect from mid-2000, was meant to fill skill gaps in the country's IT sector.

Not surprisingly, the largest number of German green cards were issued to Indians. And now, with the introduction of the new German 'blue card initiative' from August 1, 2012, skilled and highly qualified workers from India can again look forward to tapping opportunities in Germany.

Along with the new scheme, the German government has also announced the Recognition Act, which facilitates the recognition of foreign professional credentials.

Bid to tap skills
The changes to the Residence Act include regulations regarding the issuance of the new EU blue card which is a residence permit intended for highly skilled non-EU nationals seeking employment in Germany. It also offers new benefits for foreign students. While pointing out the advantages of the blue card scheme for young professionals from India, the German ambassador in Delhi Michael Steiner, said at a recent Global Skills Summit organised by FICCI that while India has the advantage of a young workforce, Germany is an ageing society that needs skilled workers.

"The new EU blue card is one step towards providing better access to jobs in Germany for skilled international workers. India has a young workforce and an enormous potential to become the country with the largest number of qualified young people. Germany and many of our European partners are ageing societies that need skilled workers. Young and qualified Indians could cater to this specific need," Ambassador Steiner said.

Advantage for students
Germany has announced a slew of changes targeted specially at wooing foreign students and academics in German universities. "Today's ideas are what make tomorrow's technologies, products and services possible. This is why we are providing targeted funding for young academics including measures that make it easier for specialists and scientists from abroad to come to Germany," Federal minister of education and research Annette Schavan, said while unveiling the changes last month.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is very upbeat about the opportunities that will be now available for foreign students. "This new law gives foreign academics more freedom of choice on extending their stay in Germany. This is an important step at a time when we are urgently in need of skilled workers," president of DAAD, Margret Wintermantel, said.

In the academic year 2010-11, the number of Indian students in Germany has gone up to 5,038, an increase of approximately 24% over the previous year. Now, with the new right to residence after study and easing of post-study employment prospects, the numbers are expected to go up further. "Since 2000, when the earlier green card scheme was launched, Germany needed to attract Indian software professionals.

But because of language problems and a perception among skilled Indians that countries such as the US and UK were better to live in, the best talent from India did not move here," says Chirantan Banerjee, a researcher at the University of Bonn and a permanent resident of Germany on the merit of his high-end research work. Banerjee believes that for the new system to work, the German government should revamp its immigration policy to attract very high end talent from India to gain knowledge capital.

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