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Integration through work

OECD praises Germany's refugee integration

German workplace integration of refugees has improved well, according to the 35-nation OECD. The organization found that three-quarters of 2,200 German firms surveyed had few or no difficulties with those they hired.

Placing refugees quickly in the labor market and insisting that they learn German were key factors in integration, said the study's authors in Berlin on Tuesday.

The Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) General Secretary Gabriela Ramos described as impressive Germany's first steps in integrating new arrivals from conflict regions such as Syria.

The next steps were to ensure that refugees with long-term stay perspectives found work and had a footing in German society, she said, referring to 1.2 million asylum seekers since 2015.

'Young and motivated'

Labor Minister Andrea Nahles of the Social Democrats (SPD), the coalition partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's government, said many of the refugees were young and motivated.

"We can train them and have vacancies," Nahles said, adding, however: "We are still only at the beginning."

She was referring to some 400,000 refugees whose residency status has since been clarified but remain unemployed while attending courses to learn about Germany and its language.

Bayern Flüchtlingsprojekt Arbeit & Qualifzierung (picture-alliance/dpa/M. Hadem)

Refugees must first attend integration courses

The OECD study runs counter to anti-foreigner sentiment exposed since Germany's large intake in 2015 while endorsing refugee support strong among liberals in society.

Since arriving, 14 percent have found jobs after the individual processing of their asylum applications, a procedure that often takes months, the study found.

'Marathon' effort

The head of Germany's BDA employers' federation, Ingo Kramer, cautioned that successful workplace integration remained a "marathon."

"However, when it works, it's a chance for the individuals and for our country," Kramer said, insisting that current protectionist rhetoric was untenable.

He was referring to German industry pleas of recent years for suitably educated trainees, current economic buoyancy, and less young employable German job starters as the population ages demographically.

Obligatory school attendance should be extended to older refugee children as well  as those aged over 18, the BDA's Kramer suggested.

Language proficiency essential

The OECD study, conducted with Germany's DIHK chambers of commerce and Nahles' labor ministry, found that half of the 2,200 firms surveyed required refugees to have good proficiency in German, even for low-skill placements.

For skilled jobs, that language requirement rose to almost 90 percent of all firms.

Low-qualified jobs predominate

So far, two-thirds of refugee recruits had ended up in low-qualified jobs.

Sixty percent of the firms had received job queries from asylum seekers over the past two years; of these, 70 percent had hired at least one refugee or immigrant.

Of those hired, 40 percent of migrant applicants got normal jobs, some 30 percent were given practical experience internships; the rest found training opportunities.

ipj/rt (epd, KNA, Reuters)

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