The German government on Wednesday proposed steps to speed up the integration of tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees into its labour market, calling on companies to loosen their German language requirements and offer extra training.
The government is hoping to enlist the support of companies, employment agencies and associations for a voluntary commitment, and appointed a special representative from the Federal Employment Agency, Daniel Terzenbach, to liaise with them.
European countries have not fully seized on the opportunity to plug workforce gaps presented by the arrival of Ukrainian refugees since last year, even though many of those fleeing the war are highly educated or have sorely needed skills.
The German economy urgently needs labour and skilled workers, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil said on Wednesday. “Work also leads to integration.”
According to the Federal Employment Agency, the employment rate of Ukrainians in Germany is currently 19%.
“But this is far from enough,” Heil told a press conference.
Speaking at the same event, Terzenbach said he wants to establish which municipalities have the most childcare available in order to get mothers into work in a targeted way.
The new steps are geared towards giving help especially to tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees who have completed or are about to complete the integration courses offered by the German government.
Once refugees complete such courses, they are expected to seek employment or risk losing their state benefits. Job centres are meant to help match the right workers with the right qualifications.
Since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, more than one million people from Ukraine have sought protection in Germany.
According to government data, there were about 196,600 employed Ukrainian nationals in Germany in July, of which 154,600 were in employment subject to social security contributions and 42,000 in lower earning or part time work.
As of September, there were 205,970 unemployed Ukrainians in Germany.
Source : Reuters