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Germany sees increase in refugee employment amid tough job market

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Despite the increasingly difficult labour market, the employment of refugees from Ukraine and other key countries of origin for asylum seekers in Germany is on the rise.

Daniel Terzenbach, the German government’s special representative for the labour market integration of refugees, said in an interview with dpa that the so-called “job turbo,” launched at the end of last year, is beginning to take effect.

The job turbo is intended to help fill vacancies with refugees and speed up their integration into the labour market.

“We can see that the job turbo is going in the right direction, the more intensively we work with people – even though the economy is currently poor,” he said.

“We placed around 2,500 Ukrainians in jobs in March 2023 and well over 5,000 in March 2024,” said Terzenbach. “Although we have over 170,000 more unemployed people than in the same month last year, the employment of Ukrainians is increasing significantly.”

Employment from the eight countries of origin of asylum seekers – primarily Syria and Afghanistan – has also risen, he added.

In March, 13,076 people from this group entered the primary labour market. In March 2023, the figure was only 11,155 – with an even more favourable labour market overall.

“The refugees who came to Germany in 2015 and 2016 during the first refugee movement are integrated into the labour market at an above-average rate, even by international standards. A great deal of labour integration has taken place,” said Terzenbach.

According to the official, about 70% of men from Syria are employed, but there is still “some catching up to do” when it comes to integrating women.

Going forward, Terzenbach aims to expedite job access for well-educated refugees and asylum seekers.

He stressed the importance of ongoing language support and qualification efforts, especially when addressing the shortage of skilled professionals.

“When refugees start working, you can’t stop promoting language skills and investing in training. In the past, once people were employed, we often stopped supporting them in any way,” he said.

A doctor from Ukraine, for example, could initially work in a hospital without a German licence to practise medicine and carry out important auxiliary tasks – before later obtaining his or her licence to practise medicine in Germany. Similar opportunities also exist in other professions.

One thing Terzenbach has learnt from his work with refugees so far is that the job centre works much more closely with their community.

“We now know how important it is to involve interest groups such as migration associations, charities and volunteer structures much more closely in labour market integration,” he said.

“We need to be more present on social media channels to counteract disinformation, for example.”

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