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Migrants held back in German job market

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Migrants held back in German job market
Photo: DPA
17:59 CEST+02:00
US vice president Joe Biden suggested Germany was “xenophobic” last week. His comments caused a lot of debate among our readers. But was he right? Are immigrants hindered in the job market? JobTalk takes a look.

Recent studies have shown that people with immigration backgrounds are still at a disadvantage in the job market in Germany.

A quick glance at a person's name, sex, age and country of origin can be enough to determine which job applications are weeded out by employers, leading some to apply anonymously.

One German woman whose husband is from Cameroon said: “Thomas applied for many jobs either by telephone or letter, but he never included a photo on his written applications.

"He would get asked to come in to a lot of interviews, but as soon as he walked through the door, he was told the job had already been taken, even though he was highly qualified for the job.”

A pilot project to test the success of anonymous job applications was carried out across Germany from mid 2011 to mid 2012 by the Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (ADS).

Eight organizations including Deutsche Telekom, L'Oréal and Deutsche Bahn voluntarily reviewed anonymous job applications.

In the first phase of the process, all job applications were sent out anonymously, and only after the applicants were asked in for an interview did the company receive the person's complete application.

Sebastian Bickerich from the ADS told The Local: “The pilot project showed that in particular women and people with migration backgrounds had a better chance of receiving an interview if their initial application was anonymous.

“The project also proved that the procedure of applying for jobs anonymously is easy to do.”

Since the results of the pilot project were published, more and more German states including Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Berlin are testing this method with small and middle-sized companies.

“The pilot started the ball rolling,” said Bickerich.

He explained that a person's qualifications should be at the top of an application and the deciding factor for an interview invitation. One aim of the project is to phase out photos from CVs.

Excluding qualified persons from employment due to their ethnicity, sex or age is detrimental to the economy, Bickerich’s report stated. “It has been proved that diverse teams achieve better results and increase competitiveness.”

Not just jobs

Discrimination also effects the younger generation applying for apprenticeship places. In a different study by the German Foundations for Integration and Migration (SVR), market researchers sent out two fictitious job applications for an apprentice position.

The study aimed to find out which applicants would get training positions - applicants with a typical German name or those with a Turkish name. The result showed that teenagers with migration backgrounds had to write more applications before they got an interview.

They were more frequently ignored than the applicants with German names, and they were addressed using the informal German form of you – du instead of Sie.

No jobs for the girls

In her thesis titled, “Beyond the veil: Discrimination against female migrants wearing a headscarf in Germany”, Doris Weichselbaumer, a professor at the University of Linz in Austria, found that companies were hesitant to hire migrant women because they were concerned the women would be less proficient in German.

Another reason for unfavourable treatment towards migrant women is that companies feel they may not be accepted by co-workers or customers, and therefore will be less productive, she said.

The results showed that there was also considerable discrimination against women with Turkish names on the German job market and even more so if the women wore a headscarf.

“This unfavourable treatment cannot be explained just by concerns over language skills or professional looks. A dislike to working with migrant women therefore appears a likely reason for their unfavourable treatment,” Weichselbaumer concluded in her study.

But she said job applicants should still keep sending photos with their CVs.

“Of course job applicants do not have to include a photo in their applications, however, photos are customary and applications without photos are usually less successful than those with,” she told The Local.

SEE ALSO: Failed job applicant sues for anti-fat bias

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