At the height of the refugee crisis that saw a million people flood into Germany, the government asked companies large and small to make an effort to hire the newcomers. The thinking was that integrating the refugees into the workforce would be the best way to begin the assimilation process.
Dutifully, the German business community tried to accommodate the government. They scouted refugee shelters and utilized job centers.
The results of this effort should be a lesson — and a warning — to other nations that employ an open-door policy on refugees.
The number of regularly employed immigrants from the countries responsible for the bulk of the latest migrant wave was a mere 25,000 higher in June than a year earlier. During the same period, 736,591 people had arrived from these countries.
The government is hardly faring better: Federal agencies have hired five refugees as employees and 12 as trainees since the beginning of last year, the interior ministry told lawmakers last month.
This is despite the fact that there are few native Germans available to fill the highest number of job vacancies in a decade, and shortages of skilled workers are putting upward pressure on wages.
Frustrated with the glacial pace of the effort, Chancellor Angela Merkel invited the 121 companies behind a jobs-for-refugees initiative called “Us together” to discuss their progress and difficulties on Wednesday.
More than 80 business leaders attended the three-hour meeting, and among those questioned by Ms. Merkel were top executives at Deutsche Bank AG and Lufthansa AG.
“It is our common target to integrate more and more refugees into the labor market,” Ms. Merkel said before the gathering. “If we succeed, it will be a benefit for all.”
Failure to integrate the newcomers into Germany’s economy, the largest in Europe, could seal Ms. Merkel’s political fate. The chancellor’s popularity has waned, and her party lost badly in recent regional elections as more Germans began to doubt the wisdom of opening the country’s doors, which has brought well over a million migrants into the country in the past 18 months. Ms. Merkel has until the general election next year to change their minds.
Companies blame the difficulty in placing migrants in jobs on shortcomings in speaking German and lack of relevant skills. They also say administrative and legal bottlenecks have forced many eager migrants to wait for their asylum requests to be processed.
“There was an open exchange about existing projects and discussion on how to create synergies,” said a spokeswoman for “Us together” after the meeting with Ms. Merkel.
Deutsche Post AG offered internships for 1,000 refugees last year but so far filled only 235 positions. A spokeswoman said the postal services company relies on employment agencies for help in finding interns. It employs 102 refugees, it said, many of them former interns.
These refugees are not the cream of the societies they are fleeing. As far as skills that would be useful in a 21st-century economy, they are non-existent.
“With two-thirds of young Syrians who must be regarded as functionally illiterate in accordance with international educational standards, so the necessary training to run local businesses is mostly missing,” Woessmann says.
Half of the refugees are under the age of 25 and can still get an education, but the ability to learn to read and write quickly fades during the late teenage years. Refugees in recent years struggle to complete basic learning courses to prepare for the job market.
“We have to prepare ourselves that the majority of young refugees will fail three-year training courses that contain a high level of theory,” Woessmann says. “Seventy percent of trainees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq who started training two years ago have already dropped out.”
Woessman instead suggests the best place to utilize refugees will be in practical occupations, such as nursing assistants and road work. The economic returns and solution to an aging population Chancellor Angela Merkel is expecting from taking refugees will not appear until 25 years from now, when the refugees’ children are fully educated and ready to join the workforce.
“What helped us in the past few years was the immigration of well-educated people from other European countries,” Woessmann says. “If we do it correctly now … the children will be the ones who reduce our demographic problems in 25 years.”
We see similar problems in the U.S. with the flood of Central American illegals. Almost half are women and children who are illiterate, speak little or no English, and don’t have the skills to be employable in their own country, much less ours.
This kind of immigration strengthens no country. It only transports problems from a poor society to a rich one.
A refugee who’s running away from something — war, poverty, gangs, drugs — is a poor addition to any society. America wants immigrants who are running toward us because they know they can make a positive contribution while bettering themselves and their families.
Most of Germany’s refugees will be cared for by the government for 25 years, until their children’s children are old enough to enter the workforce. How long will taxpayers in America be asked to care for this current crop of illegal aliens and refugees?