ilo-foreign-workerWir 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!

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – ILO Arab States

56 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

    • avatar

      I think they can learn the english language which is official for the EU.People cannot be learning all the languages of the EU just in case they end up here or there

  1. avatar
    Eugenia Serban

    Just like everybodyelse, on merit, skills, competence, abilities.
    No priviledge, it ll only cause conflict.

    • avatar
      Jean-Pierre Rosa

      Most European societies are much too xenophobic. If no advantages are given, immigrants and refugees will be at a disadvantage.

    • avatar
      Genc Geci

      Jean-Pierre Rosa, it’s people with your views who bring fascists to power and then blame the lower white class for being “stupid uneducated racists”. That would create chaos within European working class!

    • avatar
      Borislav Valkov

      Anyone who’s got an oppinion that’s different than that of a far- liberalist is a fascist? Good to know that people who go for liberalism do not acknowledge other people’s liberties like having the right of opinion or complains about reverse racism.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      And the “stating the bleeding obvious” prize goes to…..

      “If no advantages are given, immigrants and refugees will be at a disadvantage”

      Remove a word, add one and change two and voila….

      “If advantages are given to immigrants local populations will be at a disadvantage”

    • avatar

      Language lessons and housing costs paid for until they are ready for the European job market would equalise the playing field. As any European born individual would have been housed and learned the local language. I should hope that work based skills are something an adult would already have developed and so the rest is already level. But seriously, why are war refugees even being taken in on a full time basis? Without a civilian population after the war what will the country look like? Or are we just saying we will never stop dropping bombs on their countries and so it will never be safe for them to go home?

  2. avatar
    Mario Kurzio Scortichini

    I don’t think it’s possible, at least for now. I mean, unemployment rate is so high in so many EU countries and we are focusing on providing jobs to illegal migrants coming by the hundreds of thousands? this is just insane. the word priority doesn’t ring you any bells?

    • avatar

      The header said refugees, not migrants.

  3. avatar
    Tim Nick Knight

    WHo cares, they should be integrated back into their own countries. We in Europe need to rise and overthrow our incompetent leadership.

    • avatar
      Ivan Burrows


      When Brits say that about Eastern Europeans we are called raciest so why are you any different ?

    • avatar
      Tim Nick Knight

      Ivan Burrows Because you are in a UNION. But hey, UKipistan will soon be free. Well if that vile and disgusting island ever actually invokes Article 50. Maybe Farage can beg his hero Trump to become a state.

    • avatar
      Tim Nick Knight

      Racist is UKipistan , so when are you leaving

    • avatar

      LOL! Thank you, Tim Nick Knight.

  4. avatar
    Borislav Valkov

    Those with skills and diploma and of course willingness aren’t the problem. Those who do not have them are. Taking the smart and cappable in and throwing out the rest out will make the job of rebuilding their state of origin imposible. With a failed state and no (fast enough) economy recovering this will make future waves of refugees more plausible and with their failed state they(the future refugees that reach 18 y.. or similar age) wouldn’t see higher education as a way out of poverty but will see immigration as the only way out of poverty.

  5. avatar
    Bobi Dochev

    I don’t think it is possible. The majority have no skills, even if they find job it will be low-paid so they will live in social exclusion – therefore the integration is mission impossible.
    We see this with the gypsies – even born here they cant be integrated. Adding the different religion of the migrants and you have a recipe for disaster!

    • avatar
      Yavor Hadzhiev

      Maybe they will, after they escape conflict in their countries and save their lives.

  6. avatar
    Fernando Nabais

    Refugees are not supposed to integrate the job market. Refugees are people that flee from a war zone and need shelter until the war ends and they can go back home. Or, is this page confusing refugees with illegal migrants? If UE need migrants they can simply enter the UE legally. There is nothing to discuss regarding illegal migrants, the law should be folloewd and they should be deported.

  7. avatar
    Ainhoa Lizar

    Why Europe has to “integrate” migrants??? Migrants have a country where they came from! The EU is a genocidal institution. No other country or continent on this planet is forcing the replacement of it´s own native people! Shame!

  8. avatar
    Ivan Burrows


    For every migrant that gets a job an Eu citizen is made unemployed, just another reason to end the idiotic EU.

    • avatar
      Nureddin Zengi

      there is non :D which values? which ethics? these are bunch of self centered, degenerated, inhuman racist Christian scums!

    • avatar
      Faddi Zsolt

      Nureddin Zengi illegal migrants will go back to their countries. With peace or by force.

    • avatar

      I see that Olivier has volunteered to take three randomly assigned “refugees” into his house? No?

  9. avatar
    catherine benning

    They must be returned to their country of origin. Where, if they want to become citizens of Europe, they must first, lean the language, know and accept the laws and requirements of European citizenship and learn a skill that makes them an asset to the continent.

    When all that is in place, they apply through the channels available to them.

    Most of these individuals are young men who are not refugees. They are economic migrants from third world countries, whom they must fight their leaders for rights that match those of Europe. As do the Europeans they want to come to for upkeep and then to destroy.

    So, the first move has to be to stop this Western propaganda and find out why these Western politicians keep plugging this line of, the tax payer has a duty to accept and provide for a flood of inept, unusable, ill prepared men who wish to change our society to the ones they have left behind. And bring us all to the level of poverty they have become accustomed to.

  10. avatar
    Joao Antonio Camoes

    are you talking about refugees or migrants? the difference is obvious and enormous and so is the solution. Migrants came to stay for a long period, refugees want to stay or not depending on war ending- for migrants you should organise cultural programs, language courses etc.

    • avatar
      Paul X

      So do a lot of Europeans who are sleeping rough on the streets

    • avatar

      With all due respect, are you trying to troll us? Free houses? Where do I sign up for a free house?

    • avatar

      I agree with Paul. And I’ve had enough of people thinking that they are being heroic by “helping” people on other continents in situations that we over here don’t understand. There are people closer to home that need help in ways which are a lot more obvious to us and we understand the ways to help them better as well.

  11. avatar
    Sonia Micallef

    Rephrase the question please. Why would we want or need to integrate refugees into Europe’s job market when there is so much unemployment within the white community?

  12. avatar
    Zisis Poimenidis

    Why should they be intergrated? They should be helped until the war ends and then they should return to their countries to assist the proccess of the reconstruction.

  13. avatar
    Faddi Zsolt

    Europe is Christian and white continen. Migrants should go home, and for refugees we should give shelter and end war in Syria and Iraq, then reconstruct those countries and put them back home.

  14. avatar
    David Tran

    I am the child of a Vietnamese political refugee, otherwise known as the ‘boat people’.

  15. avatar
    David Tran

    I am the child of a Vietnamese political refugee, otherwise known as the ‘boat people’. My parents came with nothing but the clothes on them and now have 3 tax-paying professionals as children.

    I would say integration of refugees needs to be recognised as both an economic and social policy issue. As such, any policy should be fully integrated in this way. 3 practical implications (amongst many others) for policymakers, given that the assumption is that refugees have been appropriately screened for national security:

    1. Focus on social inclusion through language and culture classes to help integrate them into society.

    2. International cooperation. Encourage countries to play their part in taking refugees/contributing to cost of refugee camps until a well-thought out integration plan can be implemented.

    3. Understand current skills of refugees then map these to vacancies in labour market. Then have a long-term perspective around how low skilled refugees (or refugees with less relevant skills to jobs available) could be trained to give employers skills they’re looking for.

  16. avatar
    Yordan Vasilev

    The majority of migrants are men between 20 and 30 years old. Many of them have education and professional skills, because of that they must be motivated to study the native language and culture. It should be explained to these migrants that for food and shelter they must work.

    • avatar

      In the future there will be less and less jobs for unskilled and semi-skilled workers in the EU as many jobs are automated , but more jobs for the highly skilled .
      Most refugees etc are not skilled and even if they get jobs today their future will be uncertain , and as refugees will be expected to go home one day .
      There are 24+ million unemployed EU citizens who should come first for employment , without which there will be civil unrest and possibly civil war in several EU countries .
      The big question now is why EU leaders refused to apply the rule of law concerning illegal migrants , and when will they be punished for this act of treason

  17. avatar
    Chris Pavlides

    Croccodile tears from the ones who destroy Yugoslavia . Back then no Serb migrate to Greece or else where. This clearly has to do with demographics, labor and “leadership” syndroms.

  18. avatar

    With youth unemployment raging in the EU I don’t understand why we have to worry about the integration of supposed refugees into Europe’s job market. Do you still want to have a debate on how to make the EU popular again? Do you think that giving priority to non-Europeans at the expense of Europeans is the way to do it?

  19. avatar
    Adam Bxcz

    First of all we need to stop the root cause and that is both usa and russia. Kerry fscrewed up the whole migrant crisis because of a slip of his tongue. If they would bomb syria then and run it over with tanks war would be over within like days and so much homes will be still intact in syria and the situation would be far much stable. Americas indecissiveness led to russian involvement in both syria and ukraine. They should run down both isis and syria with heavy armor divisions instantly when first mass executions begun in northern iraq. America should spend much much more on destabilizing russia and separatist movements in side russian federation

  20. avatar

    They can if they are trained for 6 months to a year in order to europanize them. They should be taught the language intensively , 2…3 hours daily, the european behaviour and secular civil rights, the working of the government bureacracy etc and a job. Their benefits and state aids should depend oft participating at the programme.

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