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Critics of German chancellor Angela Merkel’s refugee policy said that her permissiveness would cripple the country, as the incomers—more than 1 million asylum seekers since 2015—couldn’t contribute to society by getting jobs. Figures released today by Germany’s federal labor agency, however, showed that 306,574 asylum seekers had found jobs as of May, a jump of more than 100,000 from the same month last year.
These people mainly come from eight crisis-torn countries, including Syria, Iraq, Somalia, and Eritrea. Some 28,000 of them had completed apprenticeships by May. “We always said that those who have entered as children and adolescents have better prospects in the labor market,” said Detlef Scheele, head of the labor office.
“Everything is going well,” he added. “These are positive numbers, particularly when you consider that we are talking about people who came here for humanitarian reasons, not necessarily to find work.”
The key to their success was learning German, the agency said. Grasping the notoriously difficult language is the gateway to getting a foothold in the job market, and the agency stressed that it is crucial for the government to keep financing language classes for refugees. As of July, nearly half a million migrants were registered as “looking for work,” a number that also includes people currently completing language courses and integration courses.
Young migrants, once trained, could be a boon for German employers, who are desperate for skilled labor. The labor office said earlier this month that there were 1.2 million unfilled vacancies in the country. The labor shortage in Europe’s largest economy is so dire that the government has floated a proposal that would make it easier for skilled workers from non-EU countries to move to Germany for work.
The latest figures on refugees finding jobs follows news earlier this week that the number of refugees unlawfully granted asylum was much lower than thought: the interior ministry said that a review of 43,000 asylum claims found that 99% of them (link in German) were correctly granted.