Migrant adults less likely to be employed in Germany — OECD

Whether migrants to Germany are able to find a job seems to depend heavily on what age they arrived here. The OECD reports that past a certain age, child migrants will be much more likely to fall behind.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its extensive annual education study on Tuesday. "Education at a Glance" covers the state of education around the world, including the 36 OECD countries, as well as a number of partner countries such as China, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.

The report reveals that in most OECD countries, foreign-born adults are more likely to be neither employed nor in education or training (NEET). Austria and Germany are the two countries with the largest differences in the share of NEETs among foreign-born and indigenous 15-29 year-olds: In Germany, 24 percent of foreign-born 15-29 year-olds are NEET, compared with 7 percent of German native 15-29 year-olds.

Read more: Germany's planned immigration law – what you need to know

Early arrival boosts employment chances

Foreign-born adults with a tertiary-level education who arrived in Germany by the age of 15 have a similar high employment rate to their native-born peers (both around 90 percent). But only 76 percent of those who arrived in Germany at the age of 16 or older have jobs.

Among foreign-born young adults who arrived in Germany at the age of 16 or older, one-third (32 percent) are NEET, compared with only 11 percent of those who arrived by the age of 15.

Read more: Germany debates fate of integrated migrants denied asylum

Native German adults more likely to find employment in Germany

University-educated foreign-born adults have lower employment rates (78 percent) than their native-born peers (91 percent). Across education levels, this is the highest gap in employment rates between foreign-born and indigenous workers.

One-quarter (25 percent) of foreign-born adults have a university or third-level degree, which is almost as high as the share of native-born adults (30 percent). The study did not distinguish between migrants' university qualifications obtained in a foreign country and those awarded in Germany.

The figures may reflect difficulties faced by university-educated immigrant adults in having their education and experience recognized in their host country. The report also suggests the language barrier and discrimination during the search for employment may also be contributing factors.

Disadvantages in education and in the labor market translate into differences in socioeconomic outcomes and overall well-being that transmit from parents to children, said the OSCE in an editorial published alongside the study's results. 

Fleeing war and poverty
In late 2014, with the war in Syria approaching its fourth year and Islamic State making gains in the north of the country, the exodus of Syrians intensified. At the same time, others were fleeing violence and poverty in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Niger and Kosovo.
Seeking refuge over the border
Vast numbers of Syrian refugees had been gathering in border-town camps in neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan since 2011. By 2015, with the camps full to bursting and residents often unable to find work or educate their children, more and more people decided to seek asylum further afield.
A long journey on foot
In 2015 an estimated 1.5 million people made their way on foot from Greece towards western Europe via the "Balkan route". The Schengen Agreement, which allows passport-free travel within much of the EU, was called into question as refugees headed towards the wealthier European nations.
Desperate sea crossings
Tens of thousands of refugees were also attempting the perilous journey across the Mediterranean on overcrowded boats. In April 2015, 800 people of various nationalities drowned when a boat traveling from Libya capsized off the Italian coast. This was to be just one of many similar tragedies - by the end of the year, nearly 4,000 refugees were reported to have died attempting the crossing.
Pressure on the borders
Countries along the EU's external border struggled to cope with the sheer number of arrivals. Fences were erected in Hungary, Slovenia, Macedonia and Austria. Asylum laws were tightened and several Schengen area countries introduced temporary border controls.
Closing the open door
Critics of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's "open-door" refugee policy claimed it had made the situation worse by encouraging more people to embark on the dangerous journey to Europe. By September 2016, Germany had also introduced temporary checks on its border with Austria.
Striking a deal with Turkey
In early 2016, the EU and Turkey signed an agreement under which refugees arriving in Greece could be sent back to Turkey. The deal has been criticized by human rights groups and came under new strain following a vote by the European Parliament in November to freeze talks on Turkey's potential accession to the EU.
No end in sight
With anti-immigration sentiment in Europe growing, governments are still struggling to reach a consensus on how to handle the continuing refugee crisis. Attempts to introduce quotas for the distribution of refugees among EU member states have largely failed. Conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere show no signs coming to an end, and the death toll from refugee sea crossings is on the rise.

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Date 11.09.2018
Author Keith Walker