The German right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) ranks among the harshest critics of the countries refugee policy. In November 2021, the representative spokesman of the party, Stephan Brandner, released a statement in which he claims that not only urgently needed specialists have been let into the country. We rate this claim as mostly true.
On November 1st 2021, the Federal Criminal Police Office Bundeskriminalamt (BKA) released a new statistic on organized crime in Germany which – according to Stephan Brandner, the representative spokesman of the far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) – shows a clear connection between refugees and criminality. In a statement he claims: “In 2015, we have been promised that almost only urgently needed specialists will come into the country. However, we realise not just now that several thousand criminals have made their way into Germany to cause trouble here.”
Since Germany is currently experiencing a shortage of specialists we want to specifically look into the first part of Brandners claim and analyse if he is correct in his assertion that not almost only urgently needed specialists have been let into the country.
Unemployment among refugees is still a major problem
To verify Branders claim it is necessary to take a look at the specialists immigrating into the country as well as the qualifications and the employment rates of immigrants in Germany. Since the Alternative für Deutschland primarily focuses on refugees in their campaign we interpreted his statement to be directed against refugees in particular and will focus on those in our analysis rather than regular immigrants.
First and foremost the immigration monitor of the Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung (IAB) reveals that many asylum seekers in Germany are still unemployed. At the beginning of the refugee crisis in August 2014 the unemployment rate among all refugees was at 38.3%. It reached its peak in 2016 at 53.4% and has since decreased to 33.8% by August 2021. Corresponding to this development the employment rate saw some positive changes as well. Between 2014 and 2016 it dropped from 29.7% to 15.2% but managed to raise back up to 39.9% by August 2021. Despite this improvement, unemployment is still a major problem among refugees in Germany.
In terms of qualifications the specialist migration monitor of the Bertelsmann foundation shows that the number of specialists immigrating into Germany from third countries is rising. In 2019 a total of 39,394 specialists moved from third countries to Germany. This makes an increase of 45.35% since the year 2014 during which only 27,102 specialists immigrated into the country. However, the overwhelming majority of those specialists aren’t refugees but regular immigrants from countries like the United States, India or Turkey.
To evaluate how qualified asylum seekers are, we will take a look at the results of the IAB-BAMF-SOEP survey as well as similar surveys of the socio-economic panel (SOEP) from the year 2016 in which the refugee crisis was at its peak.
Not every qualification guarantees a job
The surveys found that about 57% of the interviewed refugees which immigrated into Germany between 2013 and 2016 had no professional qualifications whereas 24% had only completed their school education or dual training prior. However, this – according to the definition of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) – qualifies them as specialists. In addition, about 18% of the questioned refugees possessed a bachelor’s degree or a master certification while only 1% had a master’s or doctorate degree. This means that about 43% of the refugees in question entered Germany with some sort of professional qualification. However, it is important to point out that having a certain qualification doesn’t guarantee employment in that specific career field. In result, 34% of the questioned refugees – that were lucky enough to get a job in the first place – were overqualified for their current place of work. Furthermore, the majority (84%) of asylum seekers without professional qualifications had pursued a career in their home country for which some sort of professional degree would be necessary in Germany. So even though many refugees had earned certain degrees and skills in the past, only a fraction of them could actually use them appropriately after leaving their home country.
Looking at the numbers, it is fair to estimate that the majority of refugees immigrating into Germany doesn’t have a degree or some sort of professional qualification. In addition, a large number of asylum seekers still remains unemployed. On the other hand, it needs to be taken into consideration that a lot of refugees did practice a profession in their home country but couldn’t continue doing so because an appropriate degree or qualification is expected in Germany. Nevertheless, we can conclude that Stephan Brandners’ claim that not almost only urgently needed specialist have been let into the country is mostly true.
RESEARCH | ARTICLE © Fiona Peter & Max Bruns, Stuttgart Media University, Germany
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