Refugees will struggle to find jobs, bank warns

Many of the refugees arriving in Germany could initially find it difficult to get a job because of their young age and lack of qualifications, the German central bank or Bundesbank said on Monday.

Refugees will struggle to find jobs, bank warns
Refugees in Hesse. Photo: DPA

The Bundesbank estimated that the net immigration of asylum seekers — ie. the number of inflows minus outflows — could total over one and half million between 2015 and 2017.

Of these, “the share of non-employed persons will probably remain comparatively high for the time being as many newcomers will first need to acquire German language skills and other qualifications,” the central bank wrote in its monthly report.

Germany, the EU's biggest economy, this year looks set to take in one million people fleeing war and misery in what the government has said is its biggest challenge at least since national reunification a quarter-century ago.

Germany will take in more refugees than any other country in Europe, but many people are worried about the economic consequences of doing so.

The Bundesbank said that, initially, the rate of participation of the new arrivals into the labour force would be “just under 50 percent.”

That was “well below” the average for the general population, roughly three-quarters of which is in the workforce.

The aggregate labour supply was projected to grow by around 520,000 persons – or one and a quarter percent – in cumulative terms until the end of 2017, the Bundesbank said.

But, “the results of empirical studies suggest that this additional pool of labour will initially push up unemployment owing to low or irrelevant skills as well as cultural and linguistic barriers, with refugees only gradually gaining a foothold in the labour market,” the Bundesbank said.

According to the IAB Institute for Employment Research, the level of unemployment among foreigners from war-torn and crisis-stricken countries, many of whom were likely to have entered Germany only recently, “stands at around 40 percent,” the report said.

“Despite the currently favourable labour market situation, the projection assumes an unemployment rate of 70 percent in the first 12 months following recognition as a refugee, falling to a still sizeable 40 percent in the third year.”

This translated into an employment rate of around 15 percent in the first year following the granting of refugee status, rising to roughly one-third after three years, the Bundesbank said.

Turning to the general economic effect of refugee immigration, the Bundesbank estimated it could help boost domestic demand.

“The supply effects and the long-term impact on public finances will largely hinge on how quickly and effectively refugees are integrated into the labour market,” the central bank said.

“In the short run, the effects are likely to be comparatively modest due to the presumed low initial participation rate and high unemployment among these refugees, and their integration will remain a major challenge for some time to come,” it concluded.

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Which Bavaria-based companies regularly hire English speakers?

Bavaria is no doubt a beautiful state with a strong economy, but can be a hard place for non-German speakers to integrate. The Local takes a look at job opportunities in Germany’s southeastern 'Free State.'

Which Bavaria-based companies regularly hire English speakers?

Munich ranks third in German cities with the highest total GDP, behind Berlin and Hamburg, but in terms of GDP per capita, it’s higher than both of them.

It also consistently ranks high, often highest, in terms of average household income.

As of 2023, nine of the 40 companies listed on DAX, Germany’s stock index, were based in Bavaria. Seven of those are based specifically in Munich.

While Frankfurt is commonly known to be Germany’s business capital, Munich can claim the title of Germany’s insurance capital, which is saying something, as Germany is home to some of the largest insurance firms in the world, like Allianz.

Beyond the state’s capital city, a number of international companies are based elsewhere in Bavaria, particularly in the Franken region, near Nuremberg.

Which companies actively hire English speakers?

Bavaria, and Munich in particular, is home to a number of companies at the forefront of international business. But the state is known for its traditional, sometimes conservative, culture, which affects its business culture as well.

Whereas companies embracing English as their primary business language are easy to find in Berlin, the practice is less common in the south. That said, there are some notable exceptions. 

Sportswear giants, Adidas and Puma, both have their headquarters near Nuremberg in Herzogenaurach, and regularly recruit English speaking international talent.

“As an international company, our teams reflect the rich diversity of our consumers and communities,” Jon Greenhalgh, Senior Manager Media Relations for Adidas told The Local. “Fostering a culture of inclusion where we value and leverage differences, ensures that we can authentically engage with our employees and truly connect with our consumers.”

He added that around 40 per cent of Adidas’ Germany-based employees are foreign nationals, from over 100 different countries.

Siemens and BMW rank among Bavaria’s top employers, and are also known to hire their fair share of foreigners.

“In Germany, we recently had around 2,000 open positions,” Konstanze Somborn told The Local on behalf of Siemens AG.

He added that Siemens operates in 190 countries. “That is why we value international teams very much…English as a common language is very usual.”

READ ALSO: ‘Which German companies want to hire foreigners?’

Similarly, BMW hires workers from a variety of backgrounds. 

“Every year, we hire lots of internationals and welcome them to the BMW Group,” Dr. Hans-Peter Ketterl, a press spokesman for BMW Group told The Local. 

But not all of these positions are available to non-German speakers.

Ketterl added that BMW’s working language is German in the country, even though, “English is an indispensable entry requirement as the second corporate language in many areas of the company.”

Check job boards and follow best practices

If it’s your first time applying for jobs in Germany, make sure to change your resume to the German format, even for English positions.

While Germany is home to its own job boards, like Xing, LinkedIn is probably the best place to start. In addition to searching for positions based in your preferred location, you can check relevant groups, like Munich Startups, to broaden your horizons.

The English Jobs in Germany website is also a good resource to start with.