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Germany

Painting a Pretty Picture

Organizers waxed optimistic despite shriking attendance at the world's largest technology fair, as German industry experts predicted a rosy future.

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Full, but not that full.

Computer and technology industry experts used the last day of the world’s largest technology trade fair to put a positive spin on the event’s lower attendance and gloom the industry had been experiencing.

"We’re looking realistically, optimistically into the future," said Willi Berchtold, the vice president of the German Association for Information Technology, Communications and New Media (BITKOM).

The association is predicting an optimistic 4.2 percent growth in Germany’s IT branch even as employment experts report that the number of job offers in the industry has begun to shrink.

But Berchtold remained optimistic the goal could be reached permitting the political landscape didn’t change drastically. Echoing a familiar refrain in Germany’s financial political establishment, Berchtold said it would be America that would ultimately determine the rate at which the branch improves.

"Looking forward we see a silver streak on the horizon, the improvement will come out of America," he told reporters at the eight-day event’s closing press conference.

No irrational exuberance at fair

The mood on CeBIT’s final day was one of cautious optimism. Though organizers acknowledged the 700,000 attending this year’s fair was the lowest amount since 1999, they emphasized the quality of the visitors improved.

The amount of top decision-makers attending this year’s fair climbed, said organizers. The number of foreign visitors did as well.

German IT job situation still bad

But they weren’t heading to the fair’s Job Market booth. Exhibitors there reported less job-seekers than anticipated.

"I was disappointed," said Florian Koenig, who headed the booth for Job Portal Stepstone.

Koenig ventured the no shows were a symptom of the overall bad feeling in the IT branch. After months of offering jobs no one took, IT firms have begun reducing positions.

The German Association of Engineers estimates there are 40,000 open jobs in their field, half of them in the IT branch. Beginning last year, Germany began offering a Green Card to highly-qualified IT workers out of India. Not many took up the offer, leaving the government pressed to solve the open jobs as they try to pass the country’s first immigration law.

On Wednesday, Berchtold made a special pitch for foreign talent.

"We need the best heads in the world for our German industry," he said, pointing to Silicon Valley’s success in attracting foreign workers. "We don’t need a general immigration, we need quality."

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