The Strategist

Every fifth German company employs refugees

06/09/2017 - 14:29

Number of German enterprises that provided work positions for asylum seekers has tripled over the year. The Ifo institute figured out which industries and what jobs are the most popular.

Will it be possible to employ these people over time? This was one of the key that arouse during mass reception of refugees in the autumn of 2015. Part of the German society was very optimistic, but very skeptical voices also sounded. Results of a poll conducted by the Munich economic institute Ifo show that the real state of affairs excellent, but it is much better than some feared.

The report’s main news is that the number of German enterprises that employed refugees has tripled over the past year. Only 7 percent of interviewed firms indicated that they had provided jobs to job seekers or asylum-seekers in the last 24 months in the 4th quarter of 2015. In the first quarter of 2017, however, this figure reached 22 percent. 

Thus, at present, every fifth German firm employs refugees. The representative survey was conducted among the personnel directors of more than 1,000 large, medium and small enterprises from all major sectors of the German economy, with the exception of construction.

At the same time, the overwhelming majority of enterprises, 58 percent, reported that they do not yet have experience in recruiting refugees. Further 19 percent said that they do not see any possibility of employing asylum seekers in principle, indicating special requirements for knowledge of the German language and for qualification of workers.

Separately by industry, the German service sector offers the least chance for refugees. 26 percent of firms here said they do not know how to employ asylum seekers. 16 percent of the trade industry representatives gave the same answer, and the number amounted to 14 percent in the manufacturing industry. 

At the moment, the most common form of employment for refugees is traineeship. Of all firms already working with job seekers and asylum-seekers, 43 percent answered that they had provided them with trainees' places. About a third of the enterprises have already taken the next step - they have accepted refugees into the system of vocational training. And 8 percent of firms found skilled workers among the applicants.

It is very indicative that only 19 percent of those companies that have already taken refugees to practice or to work, took the opportunity to get subsidies for it. Thus, the government support is not the main incentive to employ refugees. Many enterprises in the conditions of stable growth of the German economy really need workers' hands, and they are ready to invest in training of refugees themselves.

As for the state support, they need not financial injections, but prompt resolution of legal issues. Ifo’s poll suggest that HR directors of those firms that already have refugee employment experience are most concerned with too long consideration of asylum applications and resulting ambiguity with the status of applicants. After all, no one wants to invest time and money in training people who at some point may be deprived of the right to stay in Germany.