Could the refugee crisis end up boosting Europe’s economy? Before civil war erupted, over 25% of young Syrians were in higher education. Refugees are also younger than the native population, and they are entrepreneurial; migrants and refugees have been responsible for 1 in 5 new businesses set up in Germany in recent years.
If they are successfully absorbed into the labour market, could refugees counteract an ageing European population and boost economic growth? Earlier in 2016, the IMF released a report finding that the refugee crisis was likely to involve a short-term boost to GDP via increased government spending, and could increase long-term growth prospects if the refugee population is given access to the job market.
The popular narrative about refugees is that they are a burden on society. But could they actually be an economic benefit? Could they bring needed skills and dynamism to a stagnant European economy?
Want to learn more about refugees, skills, and innovative solutions to the refugee crisis? Check out our infographic below (click for a bigger version):
We had a comment sent in by Khalid, who believed that technology could play a key role in changing the narrative about refugees in Europe. Instead of being seen as a burden on public finances, refugees could be a source of economic growth, dynamism, innovation, and prosperity.
To get a response, we spoke to Jaquelline Fuller, Director and President of Google.org, the charitable arm of Google. Her organisation has recently been working with the NGO NetHope on Project Reconnect, an initiative providing 25,000 Chromebooks to nonprofit organisations supporting refugees in Germany. What would she say to Khalid?
For another perspective, we spoke to Jérémy Lachal, Director of Libraries without Borders, an organisation providing education and skills training to refugees. What did he think? Can technology change the narrative that refugees are a burden for Europe?
We also spoke to Paula Schwarz, Founder of StartupBoat.eu, a group of European entrepreneurs applying technology and innovative thinking to the European refugee crisis. How would he respond?
Finally, we put Khalid’s question to Vincent Zimmer, Managing Director & Co-Founder of Kiron Open Higher Education, a social start-up providing higher education to refugees. What does he think?
Will refugees bring the skills Europe needs? Can technology change the narrative that refugees are a burden for Europe? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!