In a recently published study, OECD, the international organisation specialised in analysing the economic cooperation between the developed countries, praises Germany for efficiently integration refugees. According to their projections, the employment rate of refugees will reach the German average in five or six years. Thomas Liebig, the expert responsible for this report says that the German economy has already been employing tens of thousands of refugees. The majority of those who recently arrived in the country are determined to get citizenship, so they do attend professional and language training programmes that are absolutely more efficiently contribute to the integration of masses.
Péter Zentai: Meanehile the OECD study says that the German integration of refugees is a success, last year, the German industry employed less than sixty people from the 800 newly arrived migrants. Would it really be that successful?
Thomas Liebig: This is what we are talking about: last year, about sixty of the refugees in Germany are employed by thirty DAX (listed German giants) companies. The average salary of these sixty people – even though they have been in Germany for only a couple of months – is 6.500 euros a month. There are thousands of refugees on probation period at these companies, and they have to work there for a year on average to become full-time employed. According to our projections, in five to six years, the employment rate of refugees will be the same as the German average! However, the biggest employers on the German labour market are not these 30 DAX companies. The most significant demand for labour is in the sector of small and medium sized companies, employing millions of people. Based on the data we worked with there are ten thousands of refugees working at medium sized companies already.
The situation was better in the late 1950s and in the 1960s when millions of people from South Europe flooded the German labour market…
Back then, migrant workers were distributed between German companies according to international agreements. Those we are talking about now are not migrant workers but refugees. There was no need for integration programmes for those arrived in the 50s and 60s. That situation is not even comparable to the current one. However, our experiences from the early 90s might prove useful: back then, millions of refugees arrived in Germany and other Western European countries from Eastern Europe, mainly from the former Soviet Union and the Balkans. Their social and economic integration took 5-10 years.
But they were not Muslims or Arabians…
No host country can discriminate based on religion or ethnicity. It can only investigate whether they are really refugees. There were hundreds of thousands Muslims among the refugees fleeing to Austria and Germany from the wars in the Balkans. A major difference between that and the current situation is that in the early 90s, Western Europe had to take care of more refugees in a worse economy.
Could integration come easier now than at earlier waves?
We do not have an answer, because we only have one year of experiences which do not enable us to make long-term predictions. To emphasize: after the war, the economic and social integration of refugees arriving from other countries to Western Europe took about five to ten years. After thoroughly studying the experiences of Sweden and Norway we can say that integrating the children of refugees is usually more successful.
That is not quite the case in France.
But it is in Germany. The reason why Germany was praised by OECD and the EU Commission because – even though there were difficulties at the beginning – the economic and social integration of the majority of refugees has been absolutely more organized and efficient in comparison with previous waves. Though, it is likely that the majority of those arriving from war zones do not carry ‘convertible’ papers or professional certifications. However, we saw that the majority of refugees who are over 18 years old – about 400 thousand people – do seek work in ways that are transparent for the authorities, and are a part of the German labour market. The integration of refugees arriving now will probably be more successful – in comparison with previous waves – for the following reasons:
– Today, federal and regional language and professional training programmes are far more advanced and well organized. It has been shown that young refugees learn the language faster than those who came in the 90s.
– They arrive with intentions to leave their home country behind and are actively trying to get Swedish, German, Austrian etc. citizenship – something we have not seen before. In order to achieve their goals, they have to follow integration requirements, which is a huge disciplinary force.
– Never before have there been such an urgent need for new migrants – especially in Germany, which is going through a demographic drama.
Taking all of these into account, our study concluded that Germany integrates refugees quickly and efficiently into the world of labour.