Challenges Ahead: The Labour Market Integration of Refugees in Berlin
After German reunification, the Berlin labour market was in bad shape for about one and a half decades. The restructuring of the economy and the additional labour supply worsened the labour market situation of migrants in the city. Ten years ago a self-reinforcing process of recovery started. Despite rising employment, the unemployment rate amongst settled Berlin residents fell only slightly. After the EU enlargements of 2004 and 2007 which led to the opening of the German labour market to new EU workers, employment in Berlin increased manly due to Polish and Romanian workers coming in. The employment prospects for older migrant communities – such as from Turkey – remained difficult. Furthermore, the sectors which typically employ large numbers of migrants are typically low-wage, with low qualification requirements.
Initial findings of the qualifications of refugees suggest a significant lack in basic qualifications and professional work experience. Lessons from the early intervention programme aimed at integrating refugees show that even for the group of relatively well-qualified participants, major obstacles appear on the road to employment. These including insufficient language skills, and the need to adapt existing skills to the specific requirements of the German labour market. Additionally the findings on the employment structure of workers from Syria and other states who immigrated to Berlin at an earlier point suggest that there will be a strong increase in labour-market competition in the German Capital.