Germany is an attractive destination for hundreds-of-thousands of immigrants from all over the world, particularly from southern and eastern EU nations. In 2012, authorities recorded about 300.000 more immigrants than emigrants.
Germany’s Federal Statistical Office Destatis recorded a population of almost 82 million. Most of the immigrants settle in sprawling urban areas in and around Cologne, Frankfurt and Munich while rural areas record very little growth.
Many Greeks, Spaniards and Bulgarians see a move to Germany as their last chance to find a job. Their native countries are grappling with severe unemployment and no change for the better in sight. Inevitably, the migrants are disappointed when they realize Germans do not welcome them with open arms. Germany needs to develop a more welcoming culture, Steffen Kröhnert of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development said.
“In the past, Germany has often isolated itself,” Kröhnert said and argued the country needs well-qualified migrants. “Their qualifications must be recognized, they must be able to live here with their families.” Apart from legal issues, a welcoming culture would also not force immigrants to stand in line for hours in various offices for papers and documents, an often degrading process.
Good for Germany
The current wave of immigrants brings mainly well-qualified and trained people to Germany: engineers, academics and skilled workers. German businesses stand to profit, as does all of society. However, putting too much of an emphasis on qualification is nearsighted, Kröhnert warned. “Germany needs more than engineers,” he said, and added workers for lesser positions, such as people who can work in the health care sector, are sought for as well.
Immigrants today learn German in the framework of integration courses. However, as many are looking to work as engineers, scientists, doctors or nurses, the new migrant generation needs specialized language classes, Günter Heinecker of arenalingua language institute told Deutsche Welle. “Of course, a doctor needs different language abilities than a scientist or someone who works in a restaurant.”
While not all employers require foreign employees to take language courses, an upper-intermediate knowledge of the language is mandatory for employment in Germany in some sectors, including health care. That and the steep rise in immigration to Germany are the reasons why the number of participants in language classes has “skyrocketed”, Heinecker said.
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