Initiatives and measures to invest in tomorrow’s talents

© DAAD/Focke-Strangmann

Identifying and developing future talents has become a priority concern in meeting skill demands in Europe. DAAD’s recent position paper presents 10 recommendations for joint actions by policy makers, universities and business, calling for more international students to be recruited as future professionals for the German labour market.

European Year of Skills

Against the background of the demographic, green and digital transitions and the need to bridge the skills gap in Europe, the European Year of Skills (Link), kicking off on 9 May 2023, is intended to give fresh impetus to lifelong learning and re- and upskilling in order to meet workforce and talent demands. Events and awareness-raising campaigns will highlight relevant initiatives and funding schemes at European, national and regional level, contributing to reaching the EU 2030 social targets (Link) of at least 60% of adults in training every year, and at least 78% in employment.

The Talent Booster Mechanism introduced by the European Commission in January 2023, “Harnessing Talent in Europe: a new boost for EU Regions” (Link), will be the first key initiative in 2023, contributing to the European Year of Skills through addressing skills shortage and promoting reskilling and upskilling in Europe, especially in regions and cities particularly affected by the demographic transition.

International students as the skilled workforce of tomorrow

In Germany, in light of the need to secure a qualified workforce, the role of international students as skilled (potential) future workforce in Germany has been recognised. The number of international students has continuously increased over the last years, with a peak reached in winter semester 2022/23 (according to DAAD estimates to around 360,000 to 370,000 students (Link). Ten years after successfully completing their studies, around one in three international students is still living and working in Germany.

On 30 November 2022, the German government has adopted a position paper about skilled labour immigration from third countries (Link), in which it calls for attracting more students from third countries to study in Germany. The paper claims for improved support mechanisms and conditions such as a suitable linguistic and study content related preparation, facilitated access to the German HE system and a smoother transition into the German labour market.

On the same issue, DAAD published its position paper “Internationale Studierende als Fachkräfte von morgen” (International students as skilled workers of tomorrow) in March 2023 (Link to position paper (available only in German); Link to press release) in which it advocates an increase of the number and study success rates of international students and the promotion of international students into the labour market from an early stage on. DAAD is convinced that, with determined and joint action by politics, universities and business, the annual number of international HE graduates entering the German labour market by 2023 could rise to at least 50,000. The 10 recommendations presented focus on facilitated access of international students to the German HE system, a simplification and acceleration of visa issuing procedures, and the promotion of long-term, fair migration partnerships via intergovernmental agreements. Key recommendations also include the improvement of language skills, active support of the transition from higher education to the labour market, and the provision of training opportunities for international students and refugee students.

At European level, the national and DAAD strategy aligns well with the Talent Partnerships of the European Commission (Link), designed to overcome skills shortage in the EU and to improve migration cooperation with partner countries. The Partnerships foresee direct support for the mobility of partner country nationals for study, training or employment, as well as for capacity building in the partner countries, e.g. in the fields of labour market and skills mapping, vocational education and training, and integration of returning migrants.

At individual level, the proposed strategy of DAAD goes hand in hand with the expressed wish of international students in Germany for improved information and support structures before and during their studies, as described in the DAAD study “Internationale Studierende in Deutschland zum Studienerfolg begleiten” (Supporting international students in Germany for study success) published in January 2022 (Link).


Screenshot of map with location of DAAD-office marked