Asylum Seeker Unemployment Up 33 Percent Since 2016

BERLIN, GERMANY - JANUARY 25: A young woman from Syria (L) learns about job opportunities at the second annual jobs fair for refugees and migrants at the Estrel hotel and conference venue on January 25, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. The intiative brings together exhibitors from retail, the service industry, manufacturing, …
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Asylum seeker unemployment numbers are up 33 percent in Austria despite the fact that the number of total migrants coming into the country has declined.

The number of unemployed asylum seekers has risen to 28,720 in Austria, and the capital Vienna is home to the vast majority of the unemployed migrants with two-thirds of asylum seekers in the city being without work. According to the Vienna employment Service (AMS), 67 percent registered with them to find work while many others were simply not available to work Kronen Zeitung reports.

AMS statistics note that the most qualified migrants tend to come from Syria, Iran and Iraq. Afghans seem to be the worst educated of the migrant groups with some 25 percent not having completed any schooling at all.  Only 20 percent of the Afghan nationals had either university education or had graduated high school.

AMS chief Johannes Kopf said that it was a big challenge to get migrants into the labour force, primarily because they needed to learn German first. “We have the impression that we can work well with people who attended school for twelve or thirteen years,” he said.

Afghan migrants are likely to be a bigger problem than their Syrian counterparts according to Kopf who said, “We have no experience with people who have never been to a school,” and noted that at least ten percent of Afghans were totally illiterate.

The AMS divides migrants into three categories, young people who will likely learn German and receive an education through the normal school system, qualified adults who will be sent to vocational schools and unqualified adults. The last category will find it the hardest to find work and may be limited to manual labour in construction or agriculture.

Many economists in the early days of the migrant crisis promised that migrants would be a net boon to the economies of European countries. Since then studies, like the one carried out by AMS, have shown that many migrants are not as qualified as previously thought.

Even school children are said to be lagging behind their Austrian counterparts due to the massive language barrier.  One teacher said that many migrant children will end up becoming a “lost generation” who will likely be taken care of by the welfare state as they won’t be ablet to find work.

The situation is no better in Germany where many migrants are also finding it exceedingly difficult to find jobs. Some migrants, however, prefer not to work at all, claiming they don’t have to because they are “guests” of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at


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