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Business

Going East and Going Home

After years of braindrain and staggering unemployment, an agency in eastern Germany is recruiting people who fled the area, banking on people having a longing for home and a love of the land.

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After the fall of the Wall, the Trabis quickly disappeared. So did the people.

Volker Jennerjahn has a strange job. He recruits workers to a place where many believe none are needed: to northeastern Germany. The problem is that young and dynamic people have left the area. Many older workers are retiring and now well-educated people for middle-management jobs are hard to find.

“We're like headhunters, we acquire people and tell former Mecklenburg residents in Stuttgart, Texas and Brazil: now there’s a chance especially for this profile,” Jennerjahn said.

And so people are starting to return to the east, including people Jennerjahn and his agency once convinced to leave the area. Some 120,000 skilled workers will be needed in the next few years, and people with university degrees and overseas experience will be in demand, said Jennerjahn, who is from Mecklenburg himself.

A strong connection to home

“We’ve realized that people from Mecklenburg have a strong connection to their home,” said Jennerjahn. “That has to do with the mentality of the people, as well as with the land itself, the Baltic Sea. And we also know that the people who have jobs outside the area are prepared to return to this beautiful area, even if it means a lower salary.”

Longing for home can really move people, said Christian Puppe, who works a few hundred kilometers to the south. With his online project Sachsekommzurueck.de, or Sachsens come back, Puppe wants to reinvigorate the area near Dresden.

“Here in the east one often hears the sentence: They go away and never come back. And those who say that are giving up. But I ask myself, why shouldn’t they come back?”

Reasons to return

There are enough reasons to support a return, said Puppe. In the region along the Polish and Czech border, there are a number of suppliers for the auto industry in Dresden. Jobs in this industry are secure and for people returning to the area, there are plenty of job opportunities.

Draftspeople, middle managers and engineers are among the workers being sought, said Puppe. “The market of the future lies in the east,” he said.

The region’s proximity to nature is also a calling card. “We’re just 45 minutes away from the mountains, which always have snow for winter sports,” Puppe said, pointing out that in Munich one needs that much time just to get out of the city. “Those are the things we need to promote,” he said, so the Internet address that means “Sachsens come back” can become “Come to Saxony.”

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