Germany plays green card trick to snare China's talent

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The German government is making it easier for IT professionals around the world to work in Germany – and China is no exception.

A new website, China-Germany Online, explains to potential immigrants how to make the move and what to expect upon arrival. But the website is only one aspect of a multilayered strategy. An effort called the Green Card Project plans to attract up to 20,000 foreign professionals from non-European Union countries to move to Germany and work there.

The Green Card Project is prompted by a realization that Germany lags behind the United States and other countries in information technology. The German government is apparently imitating the US government by easing immigration for IT professionals from Asia and Eastern Europe.

Werner Müller, the minister of German’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, is reported as saying his government will simplify immigration applications and approvals to quickly bring in high-tech talent.

A lack of professionals in Germany’s computer industry has spurred some companies to work overtime seeking talent; even retirees are being asked to return to their old companies. Competition in the industry has caused salaries to soar. In Germany, inexperienced college graduates can currently command tens-of-thousands of dollars a year.

According to the German Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, since its introduction, the Green Card Project has drummed up more than 5,000 applicants from India, 750 of which have been approved. Presently, the project has turned to IT professionals in Zhongguancun, the section of Beijing known as the China’s ‘Silicon Valley’.

Some Chinese IT experts fret over a possible “brain drain,” which could have a negative effect on the development of China’s computer and information industries.

Others believe that the flow of talented professionals simply reflects modern reality. This faction believes that Chinese IT professionals are actually strengthened by such moves, noting that some workers who went overseas to study or to further their careers returned better workers while other returnees have launched start-ups in China.

Moreover, China’s IT industry is blossoming, which exerts an attraction all its own. Foreign IT professionals also come to China seeking opportunity. The international exchange of IT professionals will ultimately benefit China with advanced technologies and management experience.

Finally, an IT industry insider noted that since salaries of IT professionals in China are comparable to those in Germany, the Green Card Project may not be all that compelling.

China Online

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