Saturday, September 19, 2015

Germany Works to Get Migrants Jobs By Liz Alderman

PASSAU, Germany — As Germany struggles with a surge of migrants and has at least temporarily clamped down on new arrivals, Nematullah Jasor may serve as a symbol of the way forward. One afternoon last week, Mr. Jasor, 22, walked with a light step around the cavernous factory floor of ZF Friedrichshafen, a large German industrial company that recently hired him as an apprentice in this small town on the border with Austria that has become a major landing point for migrants. Just a few years earlier, Mr. Jasor faced threats on his life back home in Afghanistan, where Taliban insurgents had threatened to kill him if he did not join the group and stop his computer science studies at the local university. After learning German quickly and proving to be a skilled employee, Mr. Jasor is on track for a permanent job once he completes his apprenticeship in making machine and auto parts. More than any other European country now contending with an influx of migrants and refugees, Germany — with Europe’s biggest economy, an aging population and more than a half-million unfilled jobs — sees the migration wave as not only a challenge but an opportunity. “Germany will benefit from people like Nematullah,” said Roland Biebl, Mr. Jasor’s supervisor. “It’s in everyone’s interest to integrate them.” Although Germany has temporarily placed tight controls on the border across the country’s south to stem the tide of people seeking asylum, the government is intent on assimilating those it lets in. With at least 800,000 migrants expected this year alone, Chancellor Angela Merkel and the nation’s biggest businesses have been mounting a vocal campaign to get migrants into jobs as a way of quickly integrating them into German society. Rather than risk letting the migrants become wards of the state, the idea is to help as many as possible start contributing to the economy. Advocates of fast-tracking employment say that Germany, Europe’s largest economy, has enough jobs to accommodate the flood of new arrivals — and in fact is facing the threat of a labor shortage and a growing bill for pensions and health care, as more and more of the country’s aging population reaches retirement. Refugees like Mr. Jasor, as well as many asylum-seekers who have arrived from Syria, are educated and bring employable skills that could help ease the labor squeeze. Last week, big employers including Deutsche Post and the automaker Daimler called for an overhaul of German labor laws to let asylum-seekers get to work quickly. Ms. Merkel, who met with industry leaders, announced that Germany would accelerate the asylum process and make it easier for those allowed to stay to enter the work force. An additional 2 billion euros, or nearly $2.3 billion, will be spent to help people learn German, which is essential for any job. International New York Times Photo