MOHAN GURUSWAMY | 28 OCTOBER, 2019
Europe: Time for Soul Searching
Europe is singularly unattractive in comparison with the USA
Europe needs manpower with skills. But it only attracts those without any, economic and political refugees. With its population declining and ageing, and its inability to attract quality top quality professionals from the developing world, mainly from India and China, this manpower crunch was bound to happen.
Europe is singularly unattractive in comparison with the USA, which is by far a more egalitarian society, without many of the deep racial biases that are rampant in Europe. To get ahead, Europe must learn from America on how to attract and keep people. For the past few years the job slots opened for Indian professionals have not even been half filled. For Indians, at least, the USA is the place to go. It is indeed the land of our children.
With European policymakers still struggling to save the continent’s common currency from ruin, they must now confront what could be an even bigger economic problem. Europe’s economy is on the brink of a catastrophic skills shortage. Despite an extremely underutilized labor force, approximately 27 percent of job vacancies created each year in the major European economies go unfilled because of a lack of appropriately skilled applicants. By 2020, the continent’s digital sector alone will be short 900,000 professionals, whereas the dynamic German economy will experience a shortage of one million workers skilled in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology.
Some policymakers have acknowledged the looming problem. The former European commissioner for youth and education, Androulla Vassiliou, recently stated that the skills shortage will damage “the aspirations of Europe’s young people and, ultimately, our future prosperity.” So far, however, they have chosen the wrong means for addressing it. The EU has taken steps to loosen immigration policies in order to attract skilled foreigners from around the world.
But apparently that is still not enough. The problem is quite paradoxical. Countries like UK, Germany and France attracted a certain kind of migrant in the 50's and 60's. These were essentially from the lower classes mostly to do menial and blue collar jobs. Many were Muslims. Class and religion have now combined to make many of the younger and Europe born immigrants religious zealots. The relatively few upper and middle class professionals that Europe attracted encounter the same attitudinal problems. Their children are now migrating to the USA in large numbers.
This is soul searching time for Europe.