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German skilled workers stranded in America: Europe wants its well-trained high potentials back

Highly qualified doctors and natural scientists living in the USA would like to come back - but they do not find a job in Germany. How can that be?
Career Europa01

Highly qualified specialists - desperately wanted?

The topic Skills shortage and the doubts as to whether it is really as big as it is often claimed in Germany was put on Best of HR -® has already been discussed frequently - and also in a panel discussion Professor Dr. Gerd Bosbach and Dr. Two years ago, Karl Brenke from the DIW, we came to the conclusion that this is not so easy.

Now I have met young people in the USA who live there and have to work - returning to Germany is extremely difficult for them. And that, even though they actually bring exactly the qualifications that are desperately needed in Germany.

When Anna tells me her story on this first morning, I still think it is a single case. She is an immunobiologist, center 30, and will complete her PhD phase in early summer with her own research in a stem cell project at the MIT in Cambridge Mass. She is looking for a job, thinking about family foundations and about being at home somewhere.

European Career Fair - Europe brings back its well-educated children?

Anna doesn't know what to do afterwards. Working in research is exciting. You could have a college career imagine and combine both. She has already looked around in business.

We're in the MIT Athletic Center at the European Career Fair in Boston. For the 17th time, MIT Cambridge students organized a career fair in the hall where runners jumped over hurdles the night before. That Concept ABC School Joke Oud is as simple as it is ingenious. Europe is bringing back its well-educated children.

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1st place in the "Land of Ideas" competition

Students, graduates and young professionals meet potential employers from Europe. Company , Cities and regions advertise with slogans like “return to bavaria”. For Germany, this concept was worth a place in the “Land of Ideas” competition. Several “recruiters” stand at some simple booths and conduct so-called speed job interviews every minute with the candidates waiting in line.

The candidates are called Paul, Kathrin and Sophie and come in a suit and costume with their hair pinned up, their “résumé” under their arms, which they draw from a folder with gold embossed from Harvard, MIT or Yale. On this first day of the fair, they still hope to get an appointment for one of the interview slots in the next few days. Europe is bringing back its well-educated children.

With a longing

It is probably the TV tower and the be Berlin logo, which emblazon on the oversized billboard on the stand of Berlin partners who act as a signal for the passers-by. Because they stop. Often with a yearning look.

We provide brochures with information about the Berlin labor market and talk about tripartite groups about Berlin and its employers. The postcards are particularly popular. A lounger on the beach in front of a graffiti-sprayed wall, a pool in the river Spree with a TV tower in the background, which comes on, is cool.

4000 candidates on job search

Day 2 at the European Career Fair in Boston. We are in the congress hotel. In the cabins, which are separated from the ground, and are close to each other, are more like dressing rooms at large sports events, the following two days will be held during the 20 minute cycle in the ballroom.

The “schedule” for this event was planned weeks in advance. Candidates put their profiles on an "online job board" and companies published their positions. Happy who got an appointment. The companies that had a large selection of candidates were also happy; because a good 4.000 have registered.

Generation “global learners” - at home, where is it?

Anna is also there. She has spoken with a Dutch research company from the pharma sector. Sounds interesting, but actually she wants to go to Germany. Preferably to Berlin.

She studied there and after one semester each in Heidelberg and London went to MIT for her doctoral thesis. America wants you back after four years. Well educated, multilingual and cosmopolitan: The generation of “global learners” has grown up and wants to go home. But where is that?

How to apply in Europe

While some wait for their interview, others are sitting in parallel workshops. They are organized by the GAIN (German Academic International Network) or the GSO (German Scholars Organization).

How to apply in Europe? What is new from the old continent? Berlin Partner also gives an overview of the labor market in Berlin. Others provide information about possible running courses and the German higher education system.

Why is the job search in Germany so hard?

Why is it so hard to find a job in Germany? In the evening, I am at the Goethe Institute at Bacon Street, Boston, which is located in one of the very English houses overlooking the Charleston River. It is one of the flanking events these days. The German consul in Boston Rolf Schütte welcomes us. A politician from the Bundestag has also flown in.

The 80 or so guests heard the motivating speeches in which words such as “demographic change” or “shortage of skilled workers” were used.

German companies are in the minority here

I have no idea yet that I will miss the lovingly prepared buffet. Not even that I hand over my last business card from a formerly full box that evening. Because my name tag is white, so I'm clearly in the minority. White are those who represent companies or at least have information about the labor market in Germany and are therefore very popular as discussion partners. Red, these are those who are interested in this information.

Take Tom, for example, the neurobiologist who specializes in pediatric intensive care and who came specially from Houston. “What about over there, are pediatricians needed?” He asks me. He would like to go back, but it is difficult to find a suitable position.

Where can you find a suitable place?

Where should he search? Once he had got through, one Casting to send. But he was not invited. He didn't get a rejection either. Somehow he got the feeling that he wasn't particularly welcome.

Gernot, the chemist from Pennsylvania, also wants to go back. His wife, an American, is a dental assistant. She is pregnant. Raising children is expensive in America. You would like to go back. “Of course to Berlin,” he says. He too was in Berlin for two semesters before studying his way around the world.

"What is the chemical industry doing in Berlin?"

The last thing he heard is that Schering probably no longer exists. Today he programs, and actually he is also a physicist and would like to do something completely different. Like the job opportunities for his wife “What are they doing and whether the chemical industry is still so good with childcare in Berlin, he wants to know.

That he is the specialist who was meant in the speeches and that we in Germany have one in Berlin? Not even with his friends. They are engineers, scientists, doctors, but also financial experts and economists.

They want to go back but can not!

Also they want to go back if they could. After three hours I'm hungry, but the buffet has long since cleared and the politician again on the way to the airport. My neck is dry from talking, partly with 4 to 5 people at the same time at one of the standing tables.

At some point I'll just write my contact details on pieces of paper and promise to answer. “Send me job ads,” they say when they say goodbye. “I will,” I promise and cannot understand it.

Is the German middle class ready for the Global Learner?

Highly qualified German specialists do not find a job? What's wrong here? In the Internet age is it difficult to find job offers? Information about industries and labor market in Germany to get impossible? This is all solvable. Or?

Wait, there's another problem. Because the question is: Are medium-sized companies in Germany ready to employ this generation of “global learners”? You are self-confident and used to working in multicultural structures.

You know the pressure to perform and succeed as a matter of course. They don't fear change. In short: they are Generation Y. In intercultural competence teams, they challenge Feedback and have learned to give this. Communicative, networked and open, they look for meaning in their work, not for job titles.

In Germany you have to start small

Like Sophie, she is a virologist and would like to bring her experience to Germany. “Germs in a hospital don't have to be anymore,” she knows. There are systems, hygiene standards and many new developments, but he has this enthusiasm HR braked quickly.

It was two years ago that she flew to Germany for an interview at her own expense. You have to start small first. The waiting list for the desired position is full of colleagues who have worked here for a long time. Frank, the mechanical and electrical engineer, nods in agreement and adds: "And if it isn't, then we are overqualified".

Anxiety to place responsibility in young hands?

The fact that companies are applying to the applicants, granting relocation allowances and take over travel expenses, is still alien to many companies. Traditional customs, looking at documents, and demanding complete CVs are, it seems, as widespread as the fear of giving responsibility to young people.

“Sometimes I think they don't know how to treat me. I introduce here Team and take responsibility, ”says Sophie, who works for a pharmaceutical company. In America no interim references are written about job performance and references with names and telephone numbers are only given on request. The vita is called “Resumee” and has no photo. For many HR professionals in Germany, this is still a problem, and they prefer to do without the candidate.

It's hard to come back

After three days, the last Berlin postcard is distributed, the Berlin banner is stowed again. I'll meet Anna again.

"It's easy to leave, but difficult to come back, I didn't expect that," she says in a tight voice. The days of the ECF have left hope and homesickness in equal measure.

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2 responses to “German skilled workers stranded in America: Europe wants its well-educated high potentials back”

  1. Stefan Wehmeier says:

    "One must always repeat the truth because the error around us is always preached, not by individual, but by mass, in newspapers and encyclopedias, in schools and universities. Everywhere there is error, and he is comfortable and comfortable in the feeling of the majority which is on his side. "

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    In any talk of "professional deficit", there is always no indication that there is not such a thing, but only a lack of particularly low-skilled workers who are skilled in the salary of an unskilled worker so that the company can continue to afford it Interest money economy always priority capital income of the interest-winners.

    So that no one knows what market justice is, ...

    ... the heresy of the "three production factors" is spread in dulling institutions (so-called "universities"):

    • Simone Janson says:

      Hello Mr. Wehmeier,
      Thanks for the hint.
      We have discussed this extensively here in the blog - right through to the establishment of our own initiative and arithmetic requests from ARD:

      Lately, however, the topic has fallen asleep - I would be happy if it could be revived.

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