Like the United States, Germany is facing a shortage of engineers, a predicament that threatens its car and technology companies. An aging workforce and declining enrollment in technical majors means it takes many employers more than a hundred days to fill engineering jobs, according to German trade groups.
The country's solution? Draw tech talent from India.
For years now, parents across India have increasingly sent their children to English-speaking schools with the hopes of improving their job prospects later in life. The number of children studying in English schools in India increased by 274 percent between 2003 and 2011, to more than 20 million students, according to the National University of Education, Planning and Administration.
But now, there's a new hot language in town. Hundreds of schools in India have signed up to teach students German as their primary foreign language as part of an effort by Germany's top technical colleges to attract more Indian workers.
The aim is to cultivate “international talent in the areas of maths, IT, natural sciences and technology,” according to TU9 – a group made up of nine German universities – and the nonprofit cultural group Goethe Institut.
The organizers plan to involve 1,000 state-run schools by 2017, which would mean more than a million Indians could be German speakers in 10 years.
The biggest hurdle appears to be recruiting teachers, according to the German Tagesspiegel newspaper.
Teachers would only be offered €290 a month – around 20,000 rupees – which for German-speaking Indians is not a lot, considering many learn the language to go into higher-paying jobs in business.
This makes recruiting difficult, and “it is not like we have 1,000 German teachers to hand,” said [project leader Puneet] Kaur.
Last year, the German government also announced a 6-million-euro initiative to publicize German universities to young Indians, hoping to attract a "socially dynamic and career-oriented younger segment of Indians."