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Germany loses the brightest minds to the US

In an interview with the leftwing/liberal German daily Frankfurter Rundschau, migration expert Klaus Bade paints an unpleasant migration-picture for Germany: While immigrants often times don't fulfill the requirements to fit in socially and professionally, more and more well educated, German-trained professionals turn their backs on the country, increasingly so not only for certain period of time, but for good, he says. Two of the reasons he mentions are the continuingly unpromising outlook for the German job market and "absurd practices within the German academia," which will soon drive so many experts abroad that we can expect a distinct shortage of trained professionals in certain sectors. Among the highly and very highly qualified experts Germany is loosing are IT-professionals, many of whom migrating to the United States. Canada is among other favored countries of immigration. Predominant among the emigrants are young, educated people "in their best years of earning," Bade laments. "Germany is on her way to find herself on the loser's side of the competition over the brightest minds." An additional problem he contends: While many second- or third generation immigrants to Germany are now leaving the country for better opportunities abroad, their parents and grandparents tend to stay in order to enjoy their retirement benefits in Germany." In times of retirement crisis, this is a problem that should not be underestimated", Bade warns. All in all, he contends, this is "a thoroughly unpleasant migration scenario, which should neither be talked nor calculated away."

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Bernhard on :

As a recent returnee from the US, I'd like to add some feelings: although both countries have their advantages, the US are certainly the better place if you want to work. - in the US you are rewarded when you want to achive something. It's running into open doors and I found only support. In Germany I have to apologize if I work late and it's a steady fight against "but!"s - new projects mean more work for the others, which is not appreciated - I found Americans very willing to accept new ideas and try new things. Although it certainly has some downsides like genetically altered food in the supermarket, I stronlgy prefer it to the negative attitude of many fellow Germans. Sometimes we are like vultures, recklessly looking for the weak point of an idea. However, this might make us very good, because only excellent ideas and very strong personalities survive this encounter ;-) - for my feeling, in Germany everything tends to be complicated and fragmented - every rule has an exception (that's our main rule!). Tomorrow is a holiday in Bavaria, but not in Brandenburg (our many holidays can be really stressing if you have to meet some deadlines). Our library has many units which are scattered over the university with different opening times. Especially now as this week is (again) a holiday week in the university. One library unit is open 10-14 h, one 12-17:45, one closed, but nobody knows all the times (even not in the central library unit). Every library unit has a different book-ordering system (which has already driven me into madness). Of course you may ask a librarian for help, but only Mondays from 9-12 and 15-17 h and Wednesdays from 10-12 h :-). - I think this our library is quite representative for Germany. Money is not the point - the "Mittel" have always been short if not absent. It's our attitude and all the exemptions. So in fact, although there's no question that I feel to belong here, I can well imagine to spend my most productive years in the US... - not to speak about the fact that the actual academic laws force us to keep eyes open for foreign jobs (a chance not to be missed if you want to dedicate your life to science)

Ralf Goergens on :

Well, 85 % of them [url=http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/headlines/news/article_04_06_03_en.html]eventually return to Germany[/url] But that can't last, unless we reverse the trend of cutting funding for research and education. We also need to reinstate the positions that used to exist for those academics who weren't 'called' to become professors - the so-called 'Akademische Räte'. Those were cut, so a academic has to wait until he is called by a university to join their its faculty, and to leave academic life if he isn't called on by a certain age. Considering the few open positions each year, and the pressure to become a full professor or leave academe altogether are very harmful, and contribute to the pressure to go abroad, rather than stay in Germany.

Guenter on :

Very well written! I did my undergraduate studies in Germany at a FH and then my graduate studies in the US. Having studied Electrical Engineering in both countries, it was very interesting to see the different views in society about that field. When I talked in Germany to students with other majors, I sometimes got the feeling they felt sorry for me, that I had chosen such a hard subject to study. From other people I heard that Engineers are responsible for the unemployment, because they automate everything. In contrast to that in the US people would usually express the respect they have for people studying or working in that field. After graduation I worked four years in a German company. Most of my time I had to spend finding excuses why things could not be done. Moving back to work in the US, I was very positive surprised about the can-do attitude. I see people doing business in Engineering with much less overhead than required in Germany. It is possible to focus on being an Engineer with some entrepreneurial spirit, not like in Germany a Lawyer-Economics-need-to-know-it-all-Engineer in the need for x-licenses and approvals in order to do business. To finish with a funny thing for what tax payers money is used in Germany. With my US degree of a Master of Science for example, I had to have it approved from the state government I am living in, to use this degree in Germany. That approval dictates me, how I have to write it. This is the normal form: Master of Science (Electrical Engineering)/Iowa State University Here comes the laugher. As abbreviated form I am allowed (need) to write: M.S./Iowa State University Great abbreviation!

mary on :

Ralf, That is very interesting. Do you have a source for the 85% return rate? I am sure there is some more interesting information worth reading in the article. Thanks,

Ralf Goergens on :

Mary, the original source is [url=http://www.dfg.de/aktuelles_presse/pressemitteilungen/2004/presse_2004_19.html]this German-language press relase[/url] with excerpts from the original study. I haven't found an English version yet, sorry.

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