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Germany eases access to job market for refugees

July 29, 2015

German government has removed a legal obstacle for certain groups of young refugees who want to work as interns. German companies, opposition parties and local officials are pushing for even more reform of the system.

Andrea Nahles am Kabinettstisch
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/W. Kumm

The government's measure, announced on Wednesday, eliminates the mandatory review of candidates by the German Labor Office before allowing foreigners to apply for an internship. Up until now, the authorities had to make sure that there were no Germans, EU citizens, or foreigners with working permits competing for the position.

German Labor Minister Andrea Nahles called the move "a small, but important" step, and announced new easing of restrictions in the future.

However, the latest decision will only apply to young asylum seekers and refugees whose deportation has been temporarily suspended. Another condition is that the applicants already have a good chance of staying in Germany.

In addition, the changes will mostly apply to internships lasting up to three months, where interns are paid little or not at all.

Procedures could also be simplified for longer internships, but only if they offer entry-level qualifications or are necessary for official training.

Industry wants more workers

German opposition party, the Greens, expressed disappointment at the news, saying that the government had fallen "short of expectations." Local authorities, who often struggle to provide for the growing tide of refugees, also called for easier access to the job market.

Representatives of German companies support the further easing of regulations, faced with the lack of staff in almost all sectors of Europe's largest economy.

President of German employers' association, Ingo Kramer, urged the government on Wednesday to strike the obligatory three-month waiting period for asylum seekers.

"If someone has been recognized as an asylum applicant, he needs to be able to work right away, not three months later," he told the German Rheinische Post newspaper.

dj/kms (Reuters, AFP,dpa)