Germany launches ‘Opportunity Card’ to entice millennial talent

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Between an aging population and an economy in seemingly perennial stagnation, Germany faces some major challenges. Could a visa aimed at attracting more young, hungry workers be the answer?

Germany is set to launch an “Opportunity Card” just in time for the summer, aimed at young foreign workers hoping either to eventually secure a long-term job or simply work in the country for a while. 

It will apply to non-EU residents, including U.K. workers. 

However, the “Chancenkarte” is not being marketed as a free-for-all for anyone to enter the country, and is aimed at young professional workers.

What is Germany’s Opportunity Card?

The Opportunity Card marks an expansion of Germany’s efforts to entice young talent from outside the EU in search of permanent work, by lowering the barriers to initial entry. 

Operating on a “points system,” applicants can almost guarantee eligibility if they’re qualified teachers, nurses, or engineers who speak English or German. Others who have worked for five years in the “learned professions” like accounting stand a very good chance at entering, too. 

The visa clearly has an age bias, with Germany making no secret of its hopes of attracting young workers. Applicants can earn two of the requisite six points simply by being under 35.

Once they’re in, the applicants can work up to 20 hours a week while they try to secure longer-term employment through another visa. This type of work is expected to be easier to secure once workers have a base in Germany.

However, the limitation of part-time work—even temporarily–could make it a tough sell for young professionals looking to the country for better opportunities. Under the visa, their earnings are capped at €1,000 ($1,080) per month.

Why is the Opportunity Card coming in?

It may seem like a glorified holiday visa, but German policymakers will hope the Chancenkarte can address two significant issues facing the country. 

The first is the immediate challenge of kicking Germany’s economy back into life. Its GDP is effectively stagnating after shrinking 0.3% last year, having been hit more than most by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which cut it off from its once plentiful supply of cheap Russian oil and gas. Production rates have been declining in Germany for several months as a result. 

One way to turn things around is addressing the shortfall in workers, with the German Opportunity Card website stating that employers in the country have decried the obstacles to attracting talent.

The second challenge is much longer running and harder to fix: Germany’s aging population. 

Germany has among the highest old-age dependency ratios in Europe. Fertility rates also lag several of its peers, threatening an inevitable productivity and fiscal crunch. It’s an issue that has been kicked down the road for generations, but is now coming into focus.  

This week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) issued a stark warning to the country, predicting that its working-age population would fall faster than any other G7 nation over the medium term, with stark consequences for German productivity.

“An aging population will also adversely affect public finances as tax revenue growth slows and spending on pensions and health care rises,” the organization said in its report. 

More workers will be needed in areas like healthcare to look after Germany’s older population, while policymakers will also look for young workers in high-productivity sectors to keep its economy rolling.

It is hoped that policies like the Opportunity Card can help bridge that gap and make Germany more attractive in an inevitable talent race with other aging European countries.

“Due to a deficit of skilled workers, Germany would have a shortage of about 16 million workers by 2060—without immigration from abroad,” the official website for the Opportunity Card wrote, citing governmental figures.  

In the short run too, they may also hope those workers can revive Europe’s economic powerhouse.

How to apply for Germany’s Opportunity Card

Germany’s Opportunity Card launches on June 1. Candidates need to fill out an application form and attach identification, employment, and language documents as required.

You’ll also need to reach out to a few German companies to prove that you’re genuinely interested in working for them on a part-time basis, but you won’t need an employment contract.



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