What has to happen so that hundreds of thousands of refugees can be placed in jobs? The Labor Minister warns businesses not to expect perfect knowledge of German.
The federal government, business and trade unions want to get hundreds of thousands of refugees into work more quickly. The work should be “as tailored as possible” but also started “as quickly as possible,” said Federal Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) on Monday in Berlin after a meeting with top representatives of the Federal Employment Agency and business associations and trade unions , companies and municipalities.
At the start of the “job turbo” announced by Heil in October, those involved signed a declaration “Now into the job: integration into work is worth it”. Heil said: “I’m glad that the alliance was successful.” Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine, 140,000 people from the country have already found work in Germany. “That’s a start, but it’s not nearly enough for me,” said Heil. In total, there are 400,000 refugees who have completed their integration course or are about to do so and are then available for the job market – around half of them from Ukraine.
No prediction of success
Heil did not want to give an estimate of how quickly these people could be integrated into work. “Labor market integration is not a sure-fire success,” he said. But: “I believe that if we get our act together here, we will be significantly further along in a year’s time than we are today.”
The general manager of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, Steffen Kampeter, and DGB board member Anja Piel expressly assured Heil of support. Kampeter said: “The Ukrainian refugees represent a very special challenge for the labor market because they are particularly qualified.” The principle of supporting and demanding needs to be communicated even more strongly.
1.7 million job vacancies
There must be priority for mediating those affected so that refugees become colleagues, said Kampeter. Refugees should also be increasingly involved in training processes. The employer representative said: “We have 1.7 million vacancies in Germany.” In this respect, he agreed with Heil that qualifications for refugees could also counteract the shortage of skilled workers.
“Many have been working for a long time and many want to find work, but are being thwarted,” said DGB board member Piel. Barriers need to be broken down – even with the current lack of childcare and recognition of qualifications.
No perfect German necessary
Heil emphasized that it had to be made clear that the employees did not initially have to speak perfect German. “We need companies that hire refugees with basic knowledge of German,” and “pragmatic solutions” are required when learning the language. The partners also rely on part-time qualifications in order to be able to use people according to their skills. Individual cooperation plans should set out steps such as further qualification in addition to employment or further language acquisition.
At the same time, it is clear that the refugees also have a duty to cooperate, said the minister. When the “job turbo” was announced in October, Heil said that there should be cuts in citizens’ benefits if job offers are not accepted.