Germany needs to do more to make it easier for foreign nationals to arrive in Germany with their families and fill job vacancies, the country’s Federal Employment Agency director, Andrea Nahles, told the T-Online news portal in an interview published on Monday.
The employment agency chief said the country must evoke a “spirit of immigration” to both attract more foreign nationals to the country and to entice those already living there from leaving.
“The spirit of immigration is not there in Germany yet,” she told the news portal.
“It’s not professionals who come to us, but people. And that’s why we also need the willingness not only to see them as professionals, but to welcome them as people. Otherwise it will not succeed,” she added.
She said the country could be “proud” of the most recent immigration figures, which showed that 1.1 million people migrated to the country last year, but lamented the fact that 750,000, many of whom were foreign nationals, claimed they had been working below their qualifications because these were not recognized in Germany.
“They would also like to have their family with them, but they are not allowed to come,” Nahles explained.
Nahles, the former SPD leader who has led the employment agency since January this year, claimed there are currently “many hurdles” for immigrants to cross, suggesting a lack of German teachers in foreign countries and expensive courses were to blame for migrants not being able to suitably prepare to come to Germany.
“It starts with the fact that people have to learn German in their home country, but there are not German teachers everywhere. And then interested parties have to pay for the course themselves, which some simply cannot afford,” she told the news portal.
She also criticized the time it takes migrants to complete the application process to come to Germany, claiming “it often takes months to get an appointment at the consulate for a visa.”
However, one thing Nahles didn’t mention in her calls for greater immigration to fill vacancies in Germany is the current rate of residents either unemployed or underemployed.
Analysis from the Tichys Einblick online magazine highlighted that according to Nahles’ agency’s own figures, 2.4 million people were unemployed in Germany in November — some 5.3 percent of its labor force.
Added to this, there are also the underemployed — those who may be only employed part-time but who want to work full-time — which accounted for 3.3 million people last month, 184,000 higher than for November last year.
This is a pool of more than 5 million people who are already available to be trained to fill vacancies in the country’s workforce should the federal government choose to introduce measures to help them do so.
“The plan (Nahles) is now following seems to be more of a neo-liberal magic plant based on the motto: Flood the job market with as many people as possible. But this recipe isn’t that magical, nor is it liberal,” wrote Matthias Nikolaidis for Tichys Einblick.
Nikolaidis warned that a further increase in the labor pool brought about by relaxing immigration laws would see “real wages certainly fall” and claimed the “invitation mentality that Nahles proposes has little economic benefit.”
“A new ‘welcome culture’ would cost the country a lot of money if it meant taking in even more illegal migrants in order to show an example of diversity policy to the citizens,” Nikolaidis warned. “But that would take revenge in a highly anti-liberal way because such disorderly diversity only increases the rulers’ need for control,” he added.