Wir schaffen das. We can do it. That was the German government’s slogan when it wanted to reassure citizens that Syrian refugees can be successfully integrated into society. Glossy adverts were produced, arguing that refugees may lack German language skills, but they more than make up for it with a willingness to learn and work hard.
But the slogan has been dumped. German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted it had become an “almost meaningless formula” after her party took a drubbing in regional elections. Does that mean the sentiments behind it were also wrong? We recently looked at the question of integrating refugees into European society, and it’s certainly true that finding employment is a key step in meeting that goal. Having a job helps refugees become productive, economically independent members of the societies in which they live.
Unemployment is relatively low in Germany, falling in October 2016 to 5.8%. However, the jobless rate for the Eurozone as a whole is nearly double that figure, hovering around 10% (and it’s 8.5% in the EU-28). Obviously, there are many people concerned about refugees taking employment from local workers.
There are all sorts of challenges facing refugees hoping to find a job. Everything from language barriers, to getting their skills and qualifications recognised, to job-hunting in an anti-refugee political climate, to adapting to a society that might be vastly different from the one in their home country.
In May 2016, the European Parliament employment committee adopted a report on integrating refugees into the labour market (you can read the report online here). We recently spoke to Brando Benifei, and Italian Social Democrat who was the main author of the report.
How can refugees be integrated into Europe’s job market? Will they increase competition for jobs? How can these challenges be met by economically-struggling EU Member States? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!