Germany Seeks Migrant Integration into Economy

September 28, 2015Germanyby EW News Desk Team


Chancellor Angela Merkel and members of Germany's business community seek to integrate masses of people coming from parts of the Middle East and Africa into German society, according to the New York Times. Germany expects 800,000 refugees and migrants for 2015, but some analysts expect one million. Germany has temporarily closed its southern border to stem the overwhelming tide of people flowing into the country.

Merkel's open acceptance of migrants has garnered criticism, with critics noting that Germany does not have the resources or capacity to accept so many people. The migrants flock to Germany and Northern Europe for different reasons, including better job opportunities, which is part of the reason why German leadership has welcomed them. Many incoming migrants have valuable skills that could boost Germany's economic output, and with over 500,000 open positions and an older population, the government and business elites view the largest mass migration since World War 2 as an opportunity.

Further, the government needs to fulfill health care and pension obligations as the population grow older, which is why a fresh labor pool from abroad would be beneficial. Currently, Germany has openings in vital sectors, such as engineering, health care and carpentry. Business leaders have called on the government to loosen labor restrictions to get migrant workers into the workforce faster, including job programs that would get them better trained. Germany has already pledged 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) to allow new workers to learn German and assimilate more seamlessly. Germany also vows to speed up the asylum-seeking process.

Germany's embrace of the migrants may be noble on the surface, but signs of trouble are already on the horizon. The first issue is housing. Some local towns lack the resources in accepting so many people, forcing local governments to evict locals for the sake of extra room. Such stories are becoming more common, stirring animosity among the populace. Critics also note that the influx of migrants will lower wages across the board and threaten job security.

Advocates state that the surplus of jobs remains unfulfilled because Germans and other Europeans lack the critical skills necessary for these positions.  Further, they are simply unwilling to take them, but such thinking is the atypical excuse that companies use to gain access to a cheaper labor pool, and Big Business in particular is a driving force in welcoming the incoming migrants.

In addition, while a few major companies such as Daimler push for a new labor force, there is no evidence indicating that most businesses would hire migrants on a mass scale when labor laws are more relaxed, and Daimler has thus far hired only a small number of migrants. One reason for this is that major companies such as ZF already have a wide selection of qualified candidates to choose from, slightly debunking the notion that companies cannot find suitable employees. The issue of job capacity must also be called into question.

Open jobs may be plentiful, but finding work for up to one million people is going to be quite a feat if Germany's integration campaign is genuine. Germany is the best performing economy in the European Union, but it is still susceptible to economic turbulence and blowback from an unstable world economy. Since Germany closed its border to slow the sea of humanity, combined with the economic burden placed on local townships, the Germans may have bit off more than they could chew by accepting unlimited asylum seekers with limited resources.

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