Wasted Potential

Minimum Wage Thwarts Refugee Jobs

Flüchtlinge stehen am 26.10.2015 vor dem Landesamt für Gesundheit und Soziales (LaGeSo) in Berlin. In dem Amt in Berlins Turmstraße können Flüchtlinge sich Registrieren lassen oder erste Unterstützungsleistungen erhalten. Foto: Michael Kappeler/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++
Refugees queue in October 2015 at the LaGeSo registration center in Berlin.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany might have to change employment policies and laws to assimilate asylum-seekers into the labor market.

  • Facts


    • The number of young people entering the trades in Germany declined by 25 percent over the past 10 years and continues to drop.
    • The influx of migrants are seen by some as a welcome boost to German businesses, which are having trouble finding employees to fill vacant positions – but it’s estimated that less than a tenth of migrants could be directly placed into jobs.
    • In September, conservatives including deputy finance minister Jens Spahn, a senior figure in Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), called for exceptions to the country’s new minimum wage law, saying that people with few-to-no qualifications could struggle to find jobs.
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The influx of refugees into Germany continues, and the political establishment apparently isn’t able to manage the situation.

The law for speeding up asylum-request processing won’t be able to correct years of administrative lapses. And while attempts to combat the causes of migration are justified, they remain hopeless. It won’t be possible to quickly or easily remedy the failures of German policy and its isolation in Europe.

The readiness for change simply doesn’t correspond to the magnitude of the challenge. That would require a demonstration of legislative courage to loosen regulations and experiment with alternatives.

At the very least, the waiting time to begin working after receiving a residence permit is being reduced from four years to 15 months – for work through a temporary employment agency. In professions with worker shortages, that waiting time is being reduced down to three months. But even this waiting period is just as impractical as the so-called “priority reviews” of 15 months. 


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