Investing in the Future: Labor Market Integration Policies for New Immigrants in Germany
Against the backdrop of an aging population and shrinking labor force, ensuring that immigrants are able to make their way into middle-skilled work has become a policy priority in Germany. While the demand for qualified workers continues to increase across regions, immigration to Germany in 2013 hit its highest level in two decades. The challenge for policymakers is how to capitalize on the full potential of immigrant workers and help them overcome the many barriers they face to progress in the labor market. Although new immigrants enjoy considerable improvement in their access to the German labor market, they still encounter significant challenges to advancement.
This report is part of a research project funded by the European Union and conducted in collaboration with the International Labour Office. The case studies in the first phase of the project consider the influence of individual characteristics and broader economic conditions on the employment prospects of foreign-born workers. The reports in the second phase evaluate the effectiveness of integration and workforce development policies in helping foreign-born workers overcome these barriers and move up into middle-skilled positions that pay a family-sustaining wage. The six case study countries are the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Over the past several years, federal, state, and local governments in Germany have introduced an array of initiatives to improve the labor market outcomes for new arrivals, both through targeted interventions aimed at immigrants and mainstream institutions like the public employment service. Several of these initiatives were designed with the cooperation of employers, who play a significant role in professional skills development. Chief among the obstacles to upward mobility among immigrants are insufficient language skills and lack of recognized qualification, both of which are being addressed with recent policy developments. There is evidence to suggest that a major piece of legislation in 2012 has made the process of certifying skills from abroad more efficient, for those immigrants seeking recognition of their qualifications. Other initiatives are still very new, making evaluation difficult.
This report examines how successfully workforce development and integration policies in Germany are in supporting immigrants' advancement from unemployment or low-skilled work into middle-skilled jobs. It provides an overview of labor market conditions and immigration trends, assesses recent efforts to make vocational training and employment services more accessible to workers with diverse needs, and explores new initiatives to incorporate language education into work-focused training. The report concludes with policy recommendations to further support the labor market integration of immigrants.
II. A Country of Immigration
III. Overview of the German Labor Market
A. The German Labor Market “Miracle”
B. Mixed Prospects for Immigrants in the German Labor Market
C. Labor Market Access Rights Across Migrant Categories
IV. Policies to Support Labor Market Integration
A. An Introduction to the Structure of Service Provision in Germany
B. Employment Services
C. Language Training
D. Vocational Training
E. The Role of Employers and Social Partners
V. Conclusions and Recommendations