Moving Beyond Crisis: Germany’s New Approaches to Integrating Refugees into the Labor Market

The rapid surge of asylum seekers and other migrants entering Europe during 2015, many with Germany as their prized destination, has led German policymakers to focus on longer-term integration issues. A central question for policymakers has been how to integrate the hundreds of thousands of newcomers into society and the German labor market. Impending skills shortages and an aging population have encouraged many in Germany to see the refugee crisis as an opportunity, and consider refugees a resource.

Despite this attitude and the creation of countless programs and initiatives to help new arrivals integrate into the labor market, refugees and asylum seekers face real hurdles getting jobs at their skill level. Among the barriers: Most newcomers speak little or no German and language courses are vastly oversubscribed and often prioritize groups who stand a good chance of getting protection, leaving many others to wait till their claims have been decided. Also, many newcomers lack the skills and qualifications in demand in the local labor market, and Germany’s prestigious vocational education and training (VET) system—often described as the ticket to skilled work—is not easy for these new arrivals to penetrate.

This Transatlantic Council on Migration report analyzes the barriers to the successful labor market integration of recent arrivals to Germany, and maps new initiatives and approaches to resolving these challenges.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Challenges to the Labor Market Integration of Asylum Seekers and Refugees

A. Language Proficiency Challenges

B. Training and Skills

C. Qualifications Recognition

D. Employers’ Attitudes

E. Coordination

III. New Approaches to Labor Market Integration

A. Legal Changes

B. Vocational and Professional German

C. Early Skills Screening

D. Improving Qualification Recognition

E. Mentoring Initiatives and Digital Platforms

IV. Conclusions and Recommendations

Source: Migration Policy Ins