The need to attract highly skilled foreigners to an advanced industrial nation has emerged as a major issue in Germany, caught up in the debate about immigration and how to strengthen the German economy.

Der Spiegel, Aug. 11, “Germany Falls Behind in Competition for Foreign Experts“:

With the economy rapidly recovering, German companies have once again begun complaining of a shortage of experts and engineers. But despite periodic efforts, the country has yet to fully modernize its immigration policies. In the international competition for highly skilled labor, Germany is falling behind.

Financial Times, Aug. 3, “Germany strives to attract overseas expertise

German industry is stepping up a campaign to introduce a points system to attract skilled migrant workers, driven by a growing skill shortage exposed by the rapid recovery of export industries from the global recession.

In spite of unemployment still running at 7.6 per cent, at 3.2m, employers complain of skill shortages particularly for engineers, computer specialists, scientists and technicians, that can only be met in the short term through immigration.

Der Spiegel, Aug. 3, “It’s Time for Germany to Change Its Immigration Laws“:

It doesn’t take much. It seems like every time the German economy shows any signs of life at all, warnings begin to crop up about a shortage of specialists in the country. This year, with a rising global economy boosting German exports, is no different. The Cologne Institute for Economic Research recently complained that the labor market could face a shortage of 200,000 engineers, scientists and technicians by 2014.

Politicians in Berlin have been quick to respond. In an interview with the business daily Handelsblatt last week, Economic Minister Rainer Brüderle suggested that German companies could try to attract more qualified foreigners by offering them financial enticements. “The issue of making Germany more attractive to foreign experts is at the top of my agenda,” Brüderle said.

Seems likes it’s the skills that matter most, rather than other measurements like college enrollment or graduation. In any case, in the global marketplace, individuals with advanced technical skills are highly mobile and highly sought after.