Monday, May 19, 2008

Green Card, Blue Card

Over the past week, I've been collecting articles on immigration, the theme for this week's series of blog posts. I'll start off framing the debate. Raghav Singh, partner at The A-List in Minneapolis, looks at "The New War for Talent" between the United States and Europe (along with other countries starved for human capital):

Currently, 85% of global unskilled labor goes to the European Union and only 5% to the United States. In contrast, 55% of qualified immigrants head for the United States and only 5% to Europe. With the Blue Card, the EU hopes to reduce the imbalance.

The EU and other countries may well succeed because their criteria for handing out permanent residency permits and work visas are much more liberal than those in the U.S., and the procedures will be simpler. Some allow employers to hand out residency permits along with offer letters.

In the EU, for jobs where a citizen is not available, an immigrant would only need to show a degree and three years of experience. Recognizing the need to attract young talent to Europe, immigrants under age 30 would have even easier requirements in qualifying for Blue Card status.

Demographically speaking, Europe is already where the United States is heading: An aging population and a shortage of young, skilled workers. A preview of the looming crisis exists in shrinking cities such as Pittsburgh. Regardless, US immigration policy is falling behind the rest of the world.

Rust Belt cities should be leading the charge to implement an economic strategy for immigration. But Richard Herman's suggestion for a Rust Belt High Skill Immigration Zone has yet to capture the imagination of the voters. I have a theory that might explain the apathy. The popular perception of the problem in the Postindustrial Heartland is that all the young talent is still leaving the region in huge numbers. The hope is to solve local problems with local people. Therefore, most new policies are framed in terms of retaining residents, not attracting new ones. The irony is that one of the glaring gaps in US immigration policy is the lack of a coherent approach to keeping well-educated immigrants in the United States after they graduate from American universities. In the one case when retaining talent might actually work, citizens and politicians alike are strangely silent.

Our inertia will be a boon to Europe's economy.

1 comment:

Brian said...

So, again, Pittsburgh might serve as a case study. Just as the US doesn't focus on keeping foriegn students just graduated from US universities, Pittsburgh does a poor job of retaining out-of-towners who've just graduated from Pitt or CMU.