German Education Minister Schavan was joined by business leaders in calling for more skilled immigrants to boost Germany's economy. Schavan also praised a group of migrants she called Germany's "Turkish elite."
Business leaders say Germany needs skilled immigrants
Germany's Minister of Education and Research, Annette Schavan, has called for more skilled foreign workers to be let into the country, while advocating greater integration of Germany's already existing migrant populations.
Schavan told Focus news magazine that immigrants "enrich our country. We need them."
There are 80,000 migrant business owners in Germany to date, who employ about 350,000 workers. By 2020, Schavan said, the number is expected to grow to 130,000 business owners with 750,000 employees.
Schavan urged that, for the sake of its economy, Germany must make itself an attractive emigration destination for foreign skilled workers, but warned that "seeing migrants solely as a stopgap is utterly wrong."
German economy reliant on immigration
Schavan wants more migrant teachers in Germany's schools
German domestic product could rise by up to 100 billion euros by 2020 if authorities relaxed immigration regulations for skilled workers, according to the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW).
IW Labor market expert Oliver Koppel called for Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats to "finally look reality in the face," saying that "without easier immigration for highly skilled workers, the shortage of skilled labor will grow, damaging German industries' ability to compete."
Free Democrat labor market expert Johannes Vogel also leveled criticism against Germany's "irresponsible immigration policies" in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.
"Even if we were to reach full employment, there would be millions of unoccupied skilled labor positions," he said, adding, "German society should wholeheartedly desire what it desperately needs: more immigration."
Schavan says Oezil is a member of the "Turkish elite"
More migrants as role models
The minister also urged that it was necessary to have migrants fill positions that "were connected with a positive influence on youths" in order to ensure better integration of Germany's migrant populations.
Schavan stressed that she was not talking about a quota. "It's not about creating a special status for a threatened minority but about acknowledging cultural diversity."
Schavan acknowledged great progress in Germany's integration of its migrants.
In her interview with Focus, she praised a migrant group she referred to as the "Turkish elite." Examples she gave included soccer champion Mesut Oezil and Lower Saxony's Family Affairs Minister Ayguel Oezkan, as well as the growing number of migrants attending elite high schools and universities.
"For the first time since guest workers came to our country in the 60s and 70s, a Turkish elite is establishing itself."
Author: David Levitz (apn/dpa/KAN)
Editor: Andreas Illmer