Europe is moving towards a digital economy. To succeed in such a competitive business Sector, Brussels is drafting regulation to improve the “Blue Card Directive” (approved in 2009) that aims at retaining and attracting talented professionals. The goal is to help tech companies that find it difficult to recruit individuals with the qualifications they so desperately need.
The decision reveals that the continent is losing high-skilled workers to the United States (notably Silicon Valley), Canada and Australia. Recent estimates show that Europe loses approximately 120,000 professionals every year to other regions. A fact that hampers economic growth in the EU. Moreover, there is a wide gap between the outflow and the inflow.
According to figures made available by the Commission, the number of skilled individuals arriving through the Blue Card and national schemes was 23,419 in 2012; 34,904 in 2013 and 38,774 in 2014. It should be noted that the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark do not apply the EU Blue Card Directive. These numbers prove that the continent is “bleeding”.
To address the issue in France there is a programme entitled “Reviens Leon” that aims to bring back professionals who left the country. The French start-up scene is well organized thanks to initiatives such as “La French Tech“.
Brussels has realized that it will have to change its visa rules for skilled professionals. According to the EU Commission, once fully implemented the new rules for the Blue Card could lead to an additional GDP growth between €1.4 billion to €6.2 billion. The directive would also benefit the strategy Horizon 2020 that aims to boost growth thanks to research and innovation.
On June 7, Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, issued a statement highlighting the growing shortage of employees for healthcare and ICT sectors. Also, he stressed the actions that should be taken to address this situation:
If we ever want to compete with the US Green Card, we need an EU Blue Card that deserves that name. That is why we propose to:
establish a single EU-wide scheme,
enhance intra-EU mobility for Blue card holders
lower the salary threshold and makes it more flexible, particularly for recent graduates and workers in areas with a labour shortage
allow highly skilled beneficiaries of international protection to apply for a Blue Card
strengthen the work and residence rights of both the Blue Card holders and their family members
These measures should help the continent to fill up to 800,00 jobs by 2020 in the tech sector and another 1 million positions in healthcare. Also, regional authorities are addressing a demographic issue, once Europe will witness a decline of around 20 million people in its workforce in the next two decades.
The European Union is designing long-term measures to position itself as tech hub. But challenges still remain with regards to application and harmonization of policies. Companies with recruitment issues even notified their respective governments that they might consider moving their headquarters if procedures don’t change. It’s time to address this bottleneck for once.