Thursday, September 10

Germany skimming highly educated Syrian refugees: That was the plan all along

"Many of the asylum seekers — especially Syrians — are highly educated or skilled workers and include doctors, engineers and architects."

Maybe a month ago a reporter -- she might have written a piece for Foreign Policy; I can't remember for sure -- was on the John Batchelor Show, explaining that the greying of the German population meant there was a huge need in Germany for nurses and caretakers for the nation's elderly and that refugees could fill the need. I blurted, "Here we go. The brain drain is on."

Actually the brain drain has been at full tilt for many years, but it is the need for cheap labor, both skilled and unskilled, which I think has been behind Europe's seeming muddle about the migrant/refugee crisis that's been building for years. This, I also think, also explains the seemingly muddled military response from NATO to what's been happening in Syria. On the one hand, it's a terrible, terrible situation.  On the other hand, it's a terribly convenient one.    

Of course leaders in the top NATO countries are all at once very worried:  God forbid the Russians should go into Syria and show up the NATO response for what it's been: hot air. So now look for a huge flurry of NATO activity to deal with Syria's -- uh, what do they call it? "civil war?" before the Russians handle it with one hand tied behind their backs. 

Russian joke: A Russian soldier's worried mother asked her son how he was doing on the front lines of Ukraine. He replied: "Don't worry mum, I am already in Damascus."

Well, it's a dog eat dog world. But in the final wash it could work out very well, notwithstanding the brain drain, as the following WaPo report suggests: Germany will get a badly-needed labor force, and Syrians will get refuge and badly-needed employment.  

I foresee one cloud on this otherwise rosy horizon.  Which is when Germany's newly-minted citizens get their first paycheck and see the taxes taken out.  

And that, dear reader, is a way of summing up the roots of the Syrian crisis, and the Iraq crisis, and many other crises over there in the Middle East.  Many people in that part of the world actually prefer autocratic government to the tax collector. But they haven't wanted government to be too autocratic, which ignores the chief characteristic of such government:  it will keep getting more and more autocratic.   

Yes, Syrian-German workers are about to learn to learn how Germany manages to be such a nice place to live.  And why the old saw "Death and taxes" is better expressed as "Taxes ain't so bad as Death."

The refugee crisis could actually be a boon for Germany
by Anthony Faiola 
September 10, 2015 - 12:00am EDT
The Washington Post

BERLIN — The rest of Europe may see a crisis as a record number of asylum seekers flood the continent from Syria and other pockets of conflict and poverty. But Germany — the region’s economic powerhouse — is also sensing a golden opportunity.

This fast-graying nation of 81 million is facing a demographic time bomb. With a morbidly low birthrate and a flat-lining population, hundreds of schools have already shuttered. Some neighborhoods, particularly in the increasingly vacant east, have become ghost towns. For Germans, it has raised a serious question: Who will build the Mercedes and Volkswagens of tomorrow?

Enter a record wave of migrants.

Offering some of the most generous terms of asylum, Germany has become by far the biggest host in Europe for those fleeing dangerous and deteriorating conditions, with more than 800,000 applications expected this year alone. With no sign of the crisis abating as war rages in Syria and Iraq, German leaders are saying they “can cope” with 500,000 more newcomers a year for “several years.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, is preparing her public for a period of transformation that may alter the very definition of what it means to be a German. Some leaders in the region are sounding the alarm over the threat to national identities posed by the mostly Muslim newcomers. But Merkel is cajoling Germans to embrace a new vision of their country that, in the future, may not be as white or Christian as it is today.

In a now-viral video, Merkel last week addressed a woman who expressed fear that refugees would bring more Islamist terror. Merkel took a deep breath before replying, “Fear is a bad adviser.”

Addressing parliament Wednesday, she said of the newcomers: “They need help to learn German, and they should find a job quickly. Many of them will become new citizens of our country.” She added: “If we do it well, this will bring more opportunities than risks.”

Merkel isn’t the only one being pragmatic, with industrial leaders here heralding the flood of working-age migrants. Some German universities are opening their doors to allow refugees to audit classes for free. The government is offering “welcome classes” teaching German to migrant children and adults.

Germany is rolling out the welcome mat as its unemployment rate has fallen to 6.2 percent — one of the lowest in Europe. Trade and service companies — from caterers to plumbing firms — are struggling to find new workers, with more than 37,000 trainee positions unfilled, according to the Federal Employment Agency.

Couple that with that fact that many of the asylum seekers — especially Syrians — are highly educated or skilled workers and include doctors, engineers and architects. And suddenly, for Germany, some say, what initially seems like a crisis becomes something else.

“As the asylum seekers are fairly well qualified, there is a good chance they will become valuable parts of our work force in the coming years,” said Reiner Klingholz, director of the Berlin Institute for Population and Development. “We won’t reverse our population loss, but we could shrink less.”

'This is our chance’

Without doubt, the asylum seekers now represent a financial burden — one set to cost this nation billions in housing and other aid. But in the long run, experts predict, many of them will stay and build new lives in Germany rather than return home. In a country projected to shrink by 13.2 million people by 2060, the newcomers could help Germany confront its long-term battle with population decline.

At least that’s the view of Oliver Junk, the mayor of Goslar, a town of 50,000 in north-central Germany lined with adorable timber-framed houses. Suffering from a net population loss of 4,000 since 2002, in recent years, he said, Goslar has had to shut three schools and is now dotted with the “occasional empty house.”

But over the past two years, Goslar has also taken in almost 300 asylum seekers. Initially, the newcomers have no choice but to stay — government officials assign them to cities and towns where they must remain as their applications are evaluated. But those who win asylum eventually win the right to move — and Junk said his city is weighing a number of new programs to persuade them to stay, including a jobs network linking the newcomers with local employers.

"We want to create the opportunity for them to stay here and not move on to the big cities,” he said. “This is our chance.”

Or not.

Analysts say it may be incredibly difficult for towns losing population, like Goslar, to keep the asylum seekers who are already there — with a rush expected to the big employment centers of Germany in booming Bavaria, as well as big cities such as Hamburg and Cologne.

Hassan Nabhea, 28, a medical student from Damascus, arrived in Goslar 18 months ago after claiming asylum. He has stayed, he says, to take German classes in a peaceful, beautiful town. But he’s likely to move on in October, perhaps to Bonn, to enter university.

“I like it here, and I like the people, but it’s hard to think that I’ll come back after I finish my German language classes,” he said.

A new promised land

The surge of asylum seekers is coming at a time when booming Germany has emerged as a new promised land for immigrants, particularly from economically troubled southern European nations, including Greece, Italy and Spain, but also countries as far away as Israel and India. In the rankings of the globe’s most prosperous nations, Germany in 2012 leapfrogged Canada and Britain to become the largest destination for immigrants after the United States, according to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Many cite the still-insular pockets of Turks who moved to Germany in droves during the 1960s and 1970s as evidence that full integration will be hard and could take generations. In addition, the reception toward asylum seekers in the former communist east — the part of Germany where depopulation is happening most — has also been the least welcoming. The region has become the epicenter for a rash of far-right violence aimed at refugees, including a series of arsons at refugee centers.



1 comment:

sim said...

I think the skill level of syrian refugees has been grossly over estimated. A 2013 survey ofsyrian refugees in lebanon found 1/3 to be illiterate and only 13% to have tertiary level skills. Syria has never had as industrial tradition or much investment in science and technology and was large agricultural. Even their banking sector was very primitive. Many of these people will have to be retrained and requalified irregardless of past training. Would you trust and want a syrian trained doctor? I dont think many would.

That said if you are willing to invest in them, in 5-10 years it could pay off, after what they have been through i think many of them will be willing to work hard. However if you just want replenish your population its cheaper to just import the skilled professionals from india and eastern europe.