German industrialists have called for the faster inclusion of asylum-seekers into training and jobs in Germany. Their appeal precedes a meeting next Thursday of federal and regional officials to review refugee policy.
German business leaders on Monday challenged lingering aversion to immigration, even to the extent of saying asylum-applicants should be offered training despite the risk of eventual deportation.
Eric Schweitzer, the president of Germany's DIHK chambers of industry and commerce, told the German news agency DPA that "asylum-applicants with residency perspectives and those whose stay is officially tolerated and who have begun training should be able to complete it without fear of being deported."
German DBA employers' federation president Ingo Kramer called on German authorities to significantly improve job access for refugees.
"Many people, who have come to us to flee war and displacement, will remain long-term or forever," Kramer told DPA.
"It is in the interests of all, to do everything, so that these persons can be integrated quickly into the labor market," he said, echoing remarks made last December by BDI Federation of Industry president Ulrich Grillo.
Easing job access
Job market access is a central topic of a Berlin conference on Thursday between the premiers of Germany's 16 regional states or Länder and Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Last week, the federal government decided to double its funds for asylum-seeker care to one billion euros ($1.2 billion).
Kramer on Monday said the time authorities took to decide on asylum applications should mean a standstill in terms of a person's biography.
"Many young people, who come to Germany as minors, are not only willing but also especially motivated to complete a training course," he said.
"Likewise, there are many enterprises which are searching desperately for young people for vocational training," he added.
That was why the residency status of applicants who found training positions or apprenticeships must be put on a fundamentally secure basis, Kramer said, adding that training entry rules must be improved.
Kramer and Schweitzer also called for accelerated asylum procedures to be coordinated by federal and communal job centers.
Nahles welcomes industry urgings
German Labor Minister Andrea Nahles welcomed the industrial heads' joint call.
"We want to ease access to internships for refugees and to ensure that a training course once begun can be completed," she said.
"At the conclusion of a successful training course every such individual should be allowed to remain in Germany," Nahles said.
Shortages of skilled trainees
Germany unemployment, officially at 2.7 million or 6.3 percent of the registered workforce, has sunk to its lowest level since 1991 while employers decry a shortage of vocational trainees.
Last month, the German ZDH Confederation of Skilled Crafts said 40 percent of its members' enterprises had problems filling vacancies when, for example, older staff retired.
Germany's federal labor agency based in Nuremberg said early this month that German job centers had listed 366,000 job seekers from crisis countries. That was 49,000 more than last year, and more than half were from Syria.
The number of fresh asylum applications is expected to more than double this year to around 450,000, according to German federal government estimates.
Many arrived with qualifications
Federal agency head Heinrich Alt said earlier this month that half of the refugee applicants had academic or vocational qualifications. The hurdle, however, was acquiring German language competency, he said.
He urged the Bundestag parliament to further shorten the waiting period for applicants before being entitled to receive agency assistance. From 2016, the period has been set at 15 months. Alt pleaded for an interval of only six months.
Nahles on Monday said all refugees with a prospect of staying should be offered German language courses financed from a federal funding program.
ipj/jil (epd, Reuters, dpa)