It is perceived that globally there is a skills shortage which is driving countries to ease immigration laws with the hopes of attracting highly skilled workers. What does this mean for you? It means increased employment opportunities globally for chemists and chemical engineers whose skills are in high demand.
Traditionally, the US has been the global leader in attracting and retaining skilled workers. Work visas have increased in the US but the supply of non-domestic talent is diminishing. Students from around the world have traditionally come to US to study and have stayed here to work. Recent tuition applications show that from 2001 to 2003, applications from foreign students to American universities dropped by 26% while they increased in the United Kingdom (36%), France (30%), and Australia (13%).
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over the past five years, the U.S. attracted an average of 73,000 skilled immigrants annually, down from about 107,000. The US has traditionally attracted 55% of qualified immigrants while Europe attracted only 5%. The European Union is looking to change those numbers by approving a single work visa. The Blue Card along with a global advertising campaign will be launched to attract highly skilled workers. The card will allow skilled foreign workers to work and live in the EU’s 27 member states. In addition, families can move with them after a 90-day application period as part of a programme designed to meet an estimated short-fall of 20 million skilled and non-skilled workers by 2030.
Other Countries are beginning to ease immigration laws with the goal of attracting high skilled labor. The Australian government has recently announced its intention to increase immigration by approximately 60% in the next two years. The emphasis is on skilled immigrants. New Zealand, recently opened their immigration policies, followed by Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong. The goals of all these programs are the same: to attract skilled talent and divert some of the talent that flows to the United States.
The supply of talent is simply not adequate to keep up with demand, here in the US or elsewhere. The U.S. produces the highest number of engineers per million residents of any country in the world, but that’s only about 15,000 chemists and chemical engineers with bachelors’ degrees every year. Those that hold Master or Doctorate degrees with the right combination of skills and work experience may want to look to jobs beyond the US. With overseas employment restrictions loosening this can give you the opportunity to expand your work experience.
If you are considering working overseas you should join us for the ACS Careers Industry Forum teleconference on October 9th from 2 to 3 pm EDT. This series will continue with next month’s presentation by Dr. Carolyn Ribes from Dow Chemical in The Netherlands. Dr. Ribes will speak on the international work environment and the lessons learned from the perspective of a US industrial chemist. You should not miss this valuable opportunity to hear from a US chemist working for the world’s second largest chemical company (#1 in the US) on October 9th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern. For more information, please see our website and sign up now to participate.
This article was written by Liane H. Gould, Manager of Career Services for ACS Department of Career Management & Development..