Sunday, July 2, 2017
Up to three quarters of Germany’s refugees will still be unemployed in five years’ time, according to a government minister, in a stark admission of the challenges the country faces in integrating its huge migrant population
Aydan Özoğuz, commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration, said that only a quarter to a third of the newcomers would enter the labor market over the next five years, and “for many others we will need up to 10”. The admission could prove awkward for Angela Merkel as she seeks a fourth term as chancellor in Bundestag elections in September 2017. Merkel saw her poll ratings plummet in 2015 when she responded to Europe’s gathering refugee crisis by throwing open Germany’s borders. The migrant issue no longer dominates the country’s nightly news bulletins, but pollsters say that the question of how it will absorb the 1.3 million migrants who have arrived here since the start of 2015 is still one of voters’ key concerns. Initially, the influx of so many working-age, highly-motivated immigrants spurred optimism that they would mitigate Germany’s acute skills shortage and solve the demographic crisis posed by its dangerously low birth rate. Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of carmaker Daimler, said that the refugees could lay the foundation for the “next German economic miracle”. But those hopes have faded as a new realism about the migrants’ lack of qualifications and language skills sinks in. “There has been a shift in perceptions,” Özoğuz said. Many of the first Syrian refugees to arrive in Germany were doctors and engineers, but they were succeeded by “many, many more who lacked skills”.