Fewer than 1 in 5 Ukrainian refugees in Germany are employed

Politicians from across the political spectrum have criticized the generous welfare benefits available to Ukrainian refugees which are disincentivizing many from joining the labor market

editor: REMIX NEWS
author: Der Spiegel
FILE -People from Ukraine, most of them refugees fleeing the war, wait in front of the consular department of the Ukrainian embassy in Berlin, Germany, on April 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

Only a fraction of the estimated 700,000 Ukrainian refugees of working age have found employment following their arrival in Germany, a report from German newspaper Der Spiegel has revealed.

According to the report, just 19 percent of Ukrainian refugees in Germany have found work with the rest currently living off the country’s welfare state.

Several politicians from across the political spectrum expressed their concern about the sustainability of providing ongoing support.

Matthias Jendricke, chairman of the Nordhausen district council in Thuringia, described the situation as “disappointing.” A member of the governing Social Democratic Party (SPD), Jendricke said he thought it would have been easier to integrate Ukrainians into the labor market than other refugees.

In the weeks following the Russian attack, he even bussed Ukrainian refugees from Berlin to his district as the county was in urgent need of labor.

“Things went completely wrong”, he explained, revealing that only a fraction of the refugees were interested in joining the labor market.

Joachim Walter, a member of the CDU opposition and county council president in the Tübingen district of Baden-Württemberg, held a similar view.

“The willingness of Ukrainian refugees to work has been significantly reduced because of the aid,” he claimed.

He accused the federal government of being too generous in relation to the social benefits on offer for Ukrainian refugees, claiming that “high public payments” do not “encourage people to work here.”

Walter revealed that his district had taken in 3,400 Ukrainian refugees, of whom just 60 had since found employment. The majority of the adults are on benefits and just 720 refugees are currently studying German.

According to Der Spiegel, Jendricke and Walter are just two of many politicians who have spoken out in similar terms recently. The German County Council also demanded a few weeks ago that newly arrived Ukrainian war refugees should not immediately receive a civilian income (welfare benefits) in Germany.

This poses a long-term problem for Germany after a poll published in July showed that close to half of all Ukrainian refugees who have relocated to the country during the ongoing conflict with Russia have no intention of returning home after the war.

Some 44 percent of new arrivals from Ukraine want to remain in Germany for the long term, according to the poll conducted by the IAB research group.

German language proficiency also remains very low among the cohort, with just 8 percent of Ukrainians professing to have a “good” or “very good” understanding of the language.

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