In 2015 the Europe migrant crisis was hailed as a great opportunity for German businesses to recruit highly skilled migrants fleeing war-zones, but a survey of Germany’s top companies has shown “barely any” of the officially-recognised refugees have actually been employed.
The research, by German television station ARD involved a survey of Germany’s top 30 DAX listed businesses and assessed progress on promises made in 2015 to integrate migrants into Germany through the workforce. Companies in the DAX 30 include automotive giants like Daimler and BMW, airline Lufthansa, and multinational pharma giant Bayer.
Despite claims by the president of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations that the nation’s major businesses were ready to “train refugees in large numbers, and to qualify and employ them” the research found in a handful of major companies the number of officially-recognised refugees could be counted on one hand. At most other companies there had been none hired at all, or they had kept no records.
Confederation president Ingo Kramer had claimed the drive to recruit had been driven purely by “self interest” — an expression of delight at the sudden deluge of migrant labour — but the promise has been unfulfilled.
In reality, it appears the migrants coming to Germany from Africa and Asia require significantly more training than these businesses perhaps anticipated. Speaking again in an interview for the ARD television report, Mr. Kramer reported the primary reason for so few having been taken on is their inability to speak the local language.
“The low number of placements is based on the knowledge of the German [language], even in the internship they must follow workplace regulations, they must be able to understand health and safety measures properly”, he said.
Called on to explain the difficulty, economist Prof. Rudolf Hickel spoke to ARD and called the failed promises of the DAX 30 companies a metaphorical “bankruptcy”. If migrants were unable to speak German, he said, the responsibility to teach them and to bring down barriers to integration lay on the shoulders of these companies, not the government.
Responding to the criticism, ARD reports “almost all” of the DAX companies vowed to offer more internships and apprenticeships this year.