German economy wobbly, jobs increasing

German FlagThe Germans are increasingly deciding not to become their own boss, but become employees instead. The expectation is that the number of new start-up businesses this year might be the lowest since Eastern and Western Germany united.

The reason for the declining interest in starting an own business is the strong job market. Despite international markets being in turmoil, the number of jobs in the German economy seems to be increasing.

The year-on-year comparison showed that there were 550,000 more employees in February than in the same month last year, an increase of 1.4 percent. There was also a slight improvement in the monthly statistics, with some 33,000 more workers than in January.

In total, some 41.1 million Germans are currently employed.

The latest figures also show unemployment in Germany sank by 9.8 percent to 2.49 million over the past year. There were 271,000 fewer unemployed in Germany than a year ago.

As there is such an abundance of jobs fewer people are not really inclined to jumps ship and become their own boss.

The number of new start-up businesses in Germany has been falling steadily, from a high of 500,000 in 2005 down to 400,000 in 2011, according to figures from the Bonn-based IfM institute. The expectations are that this decline will continue with considerably fewer than 400,000 new start-ups in 2012, bringing it down to the lowest level seen since 1990.

Start-ups in Germany are also having trouble finding start-up capital. High tech start-ups are missing out on foreign investors, who are put off by fears of double taxation. And the ever prominent red tape ensures start-ups are driven round the bend. You really need to be very driven to want to start up your own business in Germany.

However, women would seem to be less excited by what is on offer on the job market – the number of women asking advice on starting their own companies rose from 33 percent in 2002 to 41 percent last year.


European Blue card – or is it a Red card?

What is the European Blue Card?

Basically, it’s a copy of the American Green card. How surprising is that? Don’t expect Brussels to come up with something new! It took the European Union some time to streamline their approach to immigration. As there are a load of independent countries involved, you can imagine the resulting cacophony! Nothing moves fast in the European Union….

So, in May 2009, after years of difficult negotiations, the EU Member States agreed on common rules to govern the immigration of highly qualified workers from outside the Union. But not all states, as usual, will take part. The UK, Denmark and Ireland are not taking part in this scheme and given the rise of the far right in various countries in Europe, some might even drop out before it’s implemented.

The other countries agreed that the Directive on an EU-wide work permit for high-skilled non-EU citizens (“Blue Card”) has to be implemented by the Member States by 2011.

Given Europe’s history of speedy implementation of Directives, can we expect this to happen?

I might be a little cynical when it comes to Europe, but it looks as if the Blue Card scheme might actually happen.

Following the publication of the directive in the Official Journal of the EU, the member states (except Britain, Denmark and Ireland) had two years to incorporate the Blue Card provisions into their domestic legislation. This means it was to be implemented by 19 June 2011.

Spain has already implemented the directive (Ley Orgánica 2/2009, on 13 December 2009, and a revision of Ley Orgánica 4/2000) – incorporated the Blue Card into Spain’s national law. However, Spain does not yet accept Blue Card applications and has not yet made public what the requirements will be. Surprise huh?

So what do you need to get a Blue Card? You will need to meet the following criteria:

  • A recognised diploma, and:
  • Evidence of at least three years professional experience, and;
  • Offer of an EU job contract with a salary of three times the minimum wage.

It is expected the EU Blue Card scheme will be open for twenty-five European countries, each allocating a set number of Blue Card visas available to highly skilled workers each year.

Britain, Denmark and Ireland do not participate in the EU Blue Card initiative.

Wondering why?

They already have their own ‘high-skilled’ immigration schemes. The British scheme is so ludicrously tight that highly skilled foreign PhD’s, who are are offered fellowships by universities such as Cambridge, are refused a work permit on the basis that they don’t get enough points.

Recently, Dr Prashant Jain, an Indian researcher who holds a PhD in materials sciences, was offered a fellowship by the Department of Materials and Metallurgy to continue his research work at Cambridge. Dr Jain required 75 points to qualify for a visa. His doctorate entitled him to 45 points. To secure the remainder, he would have needed to show proof of an annual salary of £25,000 – a sum that is considered to be beyond what researchers typically earn at such an early stage in their careers.

Well, as usual, European countries don’t make it easy to work there. Makes you wonder why Europe is struggling economically when they can not even attract people who have the potential to drag Europe out of a recession…….