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Ukrainian refugees push up German unemployment rate

Germany's unemployment rate rose for the first time in two years in June, figures published Thursday showed, as refugees fleeing Russia's war on Ukraine swelled the pool of job seekers.

People attend a job fair in Berlin aimed at Ukrainian refugees.
People attend a job fair in Berlin aimed at Ukrainian refugees. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

The indicator rose to 5.3 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, up from five percent in May, according to the BA federal labour agency.

Overall the number of unemployed rose by 133,000, also on a seasonally adjusted basis.

The sharp increase was due to the “extensive registration of Ukrainian refugees at job centres”, the BA said in a statement.

People escaping the conflict started by Russian President Vladimir Putin in February were now “visible” in employment statistics, BA chief, Detlef Scheele said in a statement.

Over five million Ukrainians have been registered as refugees in Europe according to the UNHCR, with hundreds of thousands finding their way to Germany.

But not all of them have found work corresponding to their qualifications, with the German language also creating a significant barrier.

Worker shortage goes up

At the same time, several sectors were facing shortages of workers, with 877,000 vacant posts, up 184,000 from the same month last year.

“Many companies are desperately seeking skilled workers,” said Fritzi Koehler-Geib, chief economist at the public lender KfW.

The shortage was particularly acute for skilled positions, Koehler-Geib said.

“This is a vulnerability of the German economy that has been building for a long time,” she said.

READ ALSO: Germany struggles with growing worker shortage 

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IMMIGRATION

FDP party pushes for points-based immigration in Germany

Germany’s liberal FDP party is pushing for the introduction of a points system based on the Canadian model to tackle the country's shortage of skilled workers.

FDP party pushes for points-based immigration in Germany

Germany has been struggling to fill its lack of skilled workers for some time now and in the first quarter of this year, the labour market shortfall reached record levels.

To tackle this problem, the FDP party – one of the three parties in the traffic light coalition government –  is pushing for a points system based on the Canadian model to be introduced as soon as possible. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The German industries ‘most affected’ by skilled worker shortage

“Canadian experience shows that more than 60 percent of immigrants are gained via this route,” FDP party vice chairman Johannes Vogel told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “That’s why we must by no means neglect the path of so-called self-organized immigration in the new set of rules.”

It’s understood that a points-based system such as what Vogel describes, could mean that immigration would be permitted without the need for a concrete job offer, which has so far been required by German immigration law. Instead, the system would award points based on factors such as a high level of education, young age, and good language skills.

In July, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser and Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (both SPD) presented key points for immigration law reform, on which the traffic light parties had agreed to in the coalition agreement.

Vogel said that he thought this “first step” was good, but that the proposed entry possibilities in the event of a job offer should also be supplemented by a points system.

READ ALSO: ‘Appointments in English’: How Germany wants to attract talent from abroad

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