“2023 is the year of skills” .. How will the European Union countries compete to meet their need for skilled workers?

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In an effort to make the EU more attractive to skilled migrants from outside the EU, the European Commission has proposed strengthening the EU’s long-term residence status for non-EU citizens, so that EU residency holders have the same rights as national residency holders of each EU country.  An overview of the facilities proposals provided by some countries

To address the growing shortage of skilled workers in a number of EU countries, the European Commission in late October 2022 proposed a legislative package that includes a review of existing EU laws on long-term residence permits and the so-called “individual permit” to live and work in the EU.

According to the Commission, 23 million immigrants of various non-European nationalities currently reside in the European Union, only 10 million of whom hold long-term or permanent residence permits, 3 million of which are allowed to reside in any European country, while 7 million hold permits for each country.

If the Commission’s proposal presented to the European Parliament on 25 October 2022 is approved, EU residence permit holders will be guaranteed the same rights as national permit holders, meaning moving to work between EU countries using national residence.

Moreover, obtaining such a permit will also become easier for third-country nationals who move between European Union countries during the five years required to obtain permanent residence status.

Before that, on October 12, the European Commission adopted a proposal to make 2023 the “Year of European Skills”, in order to reduce labor shortages across the Union.

It called on member states to simplify work and residence permit applications and speed up their issuance. It also called for making residence permits related to a fixed job viable even when a person changes his job, without the need to issue a new residence, to prevent the exploitation of citizens from third countries by employers.

For its part, the liberal “Renew Europe” group in the European Parliament called on the Commission to look at the situation of people from third countries residing within the European Union, who should be allowed to change their residence from asylum or refugee status to immigrant status.

“We must not only look at people who want to come to the union, but we also have to deal with those who already live in the union but do not have a work permit,” said Jan-Christoph Uetgen, MEP for Renew Europe.

European competition for skills:

The unemployment rate in the European Union is relatively low at 6% in August, and about 3% of all available jobs remain vacant, while, according to the Commission, more than three-quarters of companies in the European Union are struggling to find qualified workers.  With the right skills, only 37% of adults train regularly.

Also, according to some European officials, the Union is late in attracting highly skilled workers, compared to some countries such as the United States, and that the establishment of the “blue card” that gives some highly skilled people the right to reside and work in the European Union comes with few official obstacles, while the Commission proposes creating a platform  A hypothetical “talent pool”, to help employers recruit skilled workers from abroad, but it requires a great effort in coordination with national labor offices, apart from a legal basis to regulate it.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted the need to invest in vocational education and upskilling “to enable a workforce with the right skills” and to enhance Europe’s competitiveness.

According to the EU CEO, the European Year of Skills should help member states achieve targets for an employment rate of 78% and an adult training rate of 60% each year until 2030.

In implementation of this, some European countries have begun to provide some facilities to attract these skills. In Denmark, which has an urgent need for workers in all kinds of industries, it wants to attract skilled workers from fields such as science and engineering to legal and healthcare professionals, teachers and information technology specialists to electricians, blacksmiths and laborers.  Minerals: There are currently 71,400 vacancies in the private sector in Denmark, mostly in the capital, Copenhagen.

Therefore, the Danish Agency for International Employment and Integration (SIRI), according to Euronews, has published lists of wanted professionals, and if a person from outside Denmark is able to obtain a job offer in one of the listed businesses, he can apply for a work and residence permit in Denmark, and the permit will be valid for a period  Four years, but if a person obtains a job opportunity from outside the jobs listed on the list, he will obtain a residence permit valid for one month before starting work so that he can settle in the country, provided that he proves that he can support himself during that period.

While Portugal recently launched a short-term visa for workers who intend to stay in the country only for one season, under the Portuguese work visa, they are allowed to stay and work in the country for a maximum of nine months, and work in more than one company is also allowed, as long as it is a seasonal job.

Finland has also launched a 14-day fast-track process to get highly skilled workers and their families into the country, and the Finnish government defines those who can benefit from this service as “specialists” and start-up entrepreneurs.

German Chance Card:

In Germany, the Ministers of the Interior and Labor in Germany want to turn Europe’s largest economy into a destination for immigration, as the need for skilled labor increases with the growing population, which constitutes a demographic time bomb for Germany’s public pension system and threatens economic growth.  For his part, Labor Minister Hubertus Hill said, “Germany needs qualified specialists to remain economically successful.”

So on October 28, 2022, a German government source announced that the government had laid the groundwork for changing the immigration system to make the country more attractive to skilled workers and to fill hundreds of thousands of job vacancies.

The source told Reuters that the reforms include the introduction of the so-called “opportunity card” that will give people the right to search for jobs in Germany on the basis of a points system, with language skills, professional experience and connection to Germany among the criteria, as the gap between demand is expected to grow.  and the supply of skilled workers to about 240,000 people by 2026.

The source added that the government will decide on these basic pillars by mid-November, and a draft law is expected to be presented in the first quarter of 2023.

Among the envisaged reforms are easing the process of recognizing foreigners’ qualifications, obtaining long-term residencies upon employment, and removing barriers to long-term employment of senior academics.

For example, people who have come to Germany to attend the language course will be able to work part-time for up to 20 hours per week and the minimum salary must be reduced to obtain the EU-wide Blue Card as a work permit for university graduates or those with professional qualifications.

The priority check will be canceled for foreigners entering Germany to start a vocational training, which means that there will be no need to obtain a certificate from the Federal Employment Agency that no German applicant is displaced by a foreigner to the site.

Eligible non-EU citizens must be able to travel to Germany even without prior official recognition of their professional qualifications.

Berlin is even considering “emergency and limited entry regardless of qualifications” in the event of an acute shortage of workers in certain sectors.

In return, Germany will expand its offers of language courses and exams, considering making them more accessible to everyone, and plans to expand the offers of vocational training programs with integrated German language training, especially in the nursing sector.

Last September, Germany announced what it called a “green card” or “opportunity card”, to address the severe shortage of skilled workers, as this will make it easier for citizens from outside the European Union to come to Germany to find work.

The “opportunity card” was considered an attempt to fill the desperate shortage of labor, which is reflected in the slowdown in economic growth, and the “opportunity card” would allow foreigners the opportunity to come to Germany to look for work even without a job offer, as long as they meet at least three of these.  Four criteria:

1) A university degree or professional qualification

2) At least three years of professional experience

3) Language proficiency or previous residence in Germany

4) He must be under 35 years old

Doubting the feasibility of the new European rules:

After the European Union announced a study of granting European residency holders the same privileges as national residency, many questioned the impact of these rules, as Jonathan Chalov, a migration expert at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, who was invited to the parliamentary debate, said, according to what was quoted by the “Euractive” website.  Compared to EU citizens, non-EU citizens living in the EU with long-term residence permits will be less likely to move to other EU countries, this is because they have “invested in their human capital”, such as learning a new language, which will not  Pay off if they move to another EU country.

According to him, the rules for a long-term residence permit must also comply with the rules of national citizenship, especially since “the goal of many immigrants is naturalization”.

European Parliament Member Damien Bozelager was more optimistic because he considers that non-EU citizens living in the EU have not yet been given the opportunity to reside in the various EU member states.

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