Gastarbeiter Migration Revisited: Consolidating Germany’s Position as an Immigration Country
This chapter examines the post-2007 Southern European migration to Germany, arguing that this highly recruited and sought after migration has served to consolidate Germany’s status as an immigration country. This migration flow has some parallels to the post-war recruitment of Gastarbeiter, or guest workers, although it differs strongly in skill level – today’s migration is more highly-skilled than the post-war migration. The recruitment is both top-down and bottom-up, with the Federal Employment Agency, regional offices, trade associations and employers themselves all recruiting skilled Southern Europeans. The migration is seen in Germany as solving the current Fachkräftemangel, or lack of skilled workers, resulting from the emerging demographic challenges. Unlikepost-war recruitment, which was intended to be temporary, Germany hopes that today’s migrants will remain.
KeywordsGastarbeiter Fachkräftemangel Guest workers Integration Highly skilled Recruitment Germany
An emerging trend has solidified after the 2008 economic crisis: Germany is, thanks to substantial Southern European migration, once again a key migrant-receiving country – and, more importantly, now sees itself as such. Positive net migration from Southern Europe was reached in 2010 for the first time since 1996, after increases since 2006. This post-crisis flow of EU migrants from Southern Europe to Germany bears a strong resemblance to the post-war Gastarbeiter (guest worker) migration. Then, however, an economic crisis ended the bi-lateral agreements; today, a crisis has re-initiated this migration, albeit a more highly-skilled flow than in post-war years. This chapter will argue that the post-crisis migration – and, above all, the targeted recruitment which is a key component of that migration – has confirmed Germany’s position as an immigration country, not only in Europe, but internationally.
This chapter will draw on both quantitative and qualitative data to do so. It will, first, review the socio-economic situation in Germany, and, second, look at data trends of migration to Germany since 2000, when Germany first declared itself an immigration country. Third, the chapter will compare contemporary Southern European migration flows to that of post-war Gastarbeiter migration. This section will also argue that contemporary migration must be seen against the backdrop of other migration flows to Germany – not only Gastarbeiter, but also post-war flows of German expellees from Eastern Europe, asylum seekers, flows from the German Democratic Republic and, finally, Aussiedler, or ethnic German migrants from Eastern Europe.
Finally, the chapter will turn to contemporary debates over migration. In addition to other ongoing migration and refugee flows, these include continuing discussions about migrant integration – with Turkish migrants and their children usually the focus of that discussion. Above all, however, this chapter argues that the discourse in Germany today is that of a consolidated immigration country – one where immigration as a phenomenon is widely accepted, and public discussions over type, profile and number of migrants are part of public debate as they are in the United States, Canada or Australia.
9.2 Socio-economic Situation in Germany (2000–2014)
This successful stabilisation of employment in Germany is related to several factors. Stein and Aricò (2010) note that the crisis primarily affected the manufacturing sector, but the loss of full-time jobs in that sector was compensated by the creation of part-time jobs in the service sector. A set of measures promoting internal flexibility within firms, e.g. the use of working-time accounts and reduction in over time, were a key reason for the stable levels of employment. Most importantly, regulations for short-time work were extended, i.e. companies had more financial incentives to keep their employees during the crisis (workers accepted a reduction in hours and payment, and the state covered up to 70 % of the salary), in order to maintain a skilled labour force after the recession (Stein and Aricò 2010: 571; Hallerberg 2013: 265).
Despite its comparatively good performance, the German labour market has nevertheless taken a problematic turn: job growth is strongly related to an increase in non-standard and precarious employment, a trend which started in the early 1990s. Between 1991 and 2012, the number of part-time workers rose from 2.5 to over 5 million, and the number of employees on fixed-term contracts rose from 2 to 2.7 million workers. Moreover, there were notable increases in the number of temp agency workers and “solo self-employed” (self-employed people who do not have employees). The group of so-called “Minijobbers”, i.e. employees working part-time and earning less than 450 Euros per month, grew from 0.65 to 2.55 million (Schulten and Schulze Buschoff 2015: 1–2).
The increase in atypical employment is in part a consequence of changes in the German welfare system – the so-called Hartz reforms. Among other measures, from 2005, the comparatively generous unemployment compensation, previously calculated as a function of the last wage, was replaced by a needs-tested low-level “flat rate” benefit (Hartz IV) for those still unemployed after 1 year, followed by further cuts if an individual rejected a job offer. These reforms, explicitly seeking to strengthen market forces – assumed to be the best way to create more growth and jobs – resulted in a far-reaching deregulation of the labour market. They did generate more jobs, but led to an increase in precarious employment and growing social insecurity (Bispinck and Schulten 2011: 1).
Nonetheless, the German economic position was comparatively strong, and, together with the lack of jobs in Southern Europe, triggered a sharp increase in intra-EU migration from 2009. Given the precarious situation in their home countries, EU migrants often accept precarious forms of employment and jobs for which they are overqualified. Migrants are overrepresented among the atypically employed (see below).
In recent years, labour force inflow to Germany has also been officially encouraged, primarily as a means to address a skills gap (Fachkräftemangel). Even before the crisis, this shortage of qualified workers and academic specialists had been identified as a potential problem in the near future (Dietz and Walwei 2007). To combat the shortage of skilled workers, the German government decided in 2008 to facilitate labour market access for highly qualified migrants, followed by further comprehensive legal provisions in 2012 and 2013 to attract high-skilled work force from abroad. The December 2014 analysis on labour shortage by the Federal Employment Agency (BA) (BA 2014a) stated that, although there was not a widespread lack of skilled workers, there were shortages in a number of professions. The Whitelist regulating third-country migration into recognised occupations of August 2014 (BA 2014b) includes a limited number of technical specialisations, as well as professions in elderly care, health and nursing. Although detailed future projections are difficult, a recent governmental report highlights the key role of migration and migrant integration for securing employment and growth in Germany (BMAS 2015).
9.3 Migration Flows: Trends in Immigration to Germany, 2000–2013
Immigration to Germany, 2000–2013: influx per year and net migration balance (in 1000s)
% EU 26+4 on total immigration
Net migration balance
In 2013, citizens from EU 26+4 represented 64 % of all new arrivals in Germany. Of the 709,686 EU 26+4 migrants in 2013, 69.3 % came from Central and Eastern European countries and 19.9 % from the Southern European countries. In the same year, 648,911 non-citizens left the country, among them 419,240 people moving to EU 26+4 countries. Balancing arrivals against departures, net migration to Germany was 459,160 in 2013. The highest positive balances were registered for citizens from Eastern EU.
Foreign citizens resident in Germany, 2000–2013 (in 1000 persons)
At the end of 2013, 7.6 million non-citizens lived in Germany. Of these, 1.54 million were Turkish citizens, 609,855 held Polish passports, 552,943 were Italians, and the fourth largest group at 316,331 was Greek.
According to 2013 data, first generation immigrants have been living in Germany on average for 22.5 years. The highest averages were recorded for immigrants born in Italy (31.2 years), Turkey (28.7 years) and Greece (28.3 years) (BAMF 2015a: 236). Data show, however, that intra-EU migration in particular no longer necessarily involves the idea of = long-term or permanent change of the country of residence. Instead, EU freedom of movement and unrestricted return options seem to have turned migration into a temporary project. 48.9 % of all non-citizens who left Germany in 2013 had stayed for less than 12 months. The share of short-term stays was highest among Romanians (59.4 %) and Spaniards (58.4 %). Among the Italians, Greeks and Portuguese who left Germany in 2013, between 41.9 % and 44.2 % had spent less than 12 months there (BAMF 2015a: 112).
9.3.1 Demographic Overview: 2012
In 2012, 15.3 million people, i.e. 19.1 % of the entire population in Germany, had apersonal parental history of migration.1 Of those, 10.0 million were first-generation migrants born abroad, another 5.2 million had at least one parent born abroad, i.e. belonged to the second generation. 42.4 % of the migrants and their children were foreign nationals. Of the working-age population, 20.6 % were first generation migrants or their children. About 1.1 million working-age migrants, i.e. 2 % of the 15–64 years old men and women, arrived between 2007 and 2012.
Migrants living in Germany differ from the native population in terms of age, qualifications, and labour market integration. Overall, migrants are on average younger than the German population. For first generation migrants this is not the case, however, for Aussiedler and for immigrants born in Northern and Western Europe or the former guest worker countries. In terms of labour market perspectives, the age structure among recent migrants has become more favourable: in 2012, migrants’ average ages varied from 28.6 (new Turkish migrants) to 34.8 (new migrants from Western and Northern Europe), indicating that in recent years Germany has succeeded in attracting young people.
Population resident in Germany by selected origin groups and age, 2012
Working age population
Working age population, year of immigration 2007–2012
Other non EU
Working-age population resident in Germany by origin, period of immigration and level of education, 2012 (percentages)
Total working age population
Recent migrants (year of immigration 2007 or later)
Other non EU
In recent years, Germany has attracted a younger and more highly skilled workforce. Of the migrants who have come to Germany since 2007, 29.6 % are highly skilled. 32.6 % of the recent Southern EU migrants have a university degree. In the latter group, Spaniards have the highest qualifications, regardless of period of migration. These data confirm the results of an analysis of the qualification profiles of EU nationals living in Germany that was carried out by the Expert Council on Integration and Migration. It shows that Germany has profited considerably from the freedom of movement in the EU as a result of the better qualified and younger migrants – on average 10 years younger (SVR 2013: 17–18).
9.3.2 Labour Market Integration
Working-age population by origin, migrant generation and labour market integration, 2012 (percentages)
(Ref: working-age population)
(Ref: active population)
(Ref: employed population)
Labour market participation
Part-time work (<32 h/week)
Share of managers and professionalsa
Other non EU
Recent migrants (year of migration 2007 or later)
Other non EU
Occupational attainment,2 however, is much stronger among recent migrants – most notably among the Southern Europeans – which hints at a possible trend towards polarisation in the sense that the highly-skilled are more successful than average, while less qualified newcomers experience more problems than the group average. Labour market outcomes of Western and Northern Europeans are, however, less influenced by length of stay, allowing for the conclusion – strongly supported by the high shares of managers and professionals among them – that it is rather the pull factors that attract migrants who have good labour market perspectives from these countries. On the other hand, a high incidence of non-standard employment, in particular the high rate of temporary jobs, among the other recent migrants highlights the importance of push factors for migration to Germany.
Not reflected in the descriptive data, but uncovered by multivariate analyses, is the fact that migrants often work in jobs for which they are overqualified, in Germany as well as in many other destination countries (Friedberg 2000; Kogan 2003; van Tubergen 2006; Chiswick and Miller 2008). In Germany, disadvantages in occupational attainment are most pronounced for non-EU migrants, but are also substantial for EU-10 and Southern European migrants (Kogan 2011; Fleischmann and Höhne 2013; Höhne and Schulze Buschoff 2015).
Predominant source of income of 15 to 64-year olds, by origin, 2012 (row percentages)
Total working age population
Pension, unemployment benefits (ALG I), student education grants
Family support, private assets
Basic social security and basic unemployment benefits (SGB XII, “Hartz IV”)
Other non EU
Recent migrants (year of immigration 2007 or later)
Other non EU
Labour market indicators show that many migrant groups are still unemployed at higher rates and have more precarious employment conditions than German citizens. Lower education levels play a key role, although part of the gap can also be explained by language deficiencies and job-qualification mismatches.
9.4 Southern European Migration to Post-War Germany: Gastarbeiter Migration in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s
Today’s Southern European migrants are more highly skilled than the post-war Gastarbeiter or guest workers – so called because they were intended to stay only for several years. This section will discuss key issues relating to this post-war migration flow, with the next section moving on to similar discussions today.
Germany became virtually synonymous with Gastarbeiter migration (Castles 1986; Herbert 2003), although, in European comparison, it was a relative late-comer to guest worker recruitment, with Switzerland, Austria and Belgium (see Chap. 7, this volume) having established such schemes some years earlier. Initially, labour was not needed in Germany, given eight million Germans expelled from former German territories in Eastern Europe (Klekowski von Koppenfels 2002: 116). By the mid-1950s, however, the Wirtschaftswunder (economic miracle) that characterised post-war Germany was well under way, and more workers were needed.
The first of a series of bi-lateral labour recruitment agreements was signed between Italy and Germany in 1955, while the agreement with Turkey, which became the most significant, was signed in 1961 (Bpb 2010). In September 1964, Germany celebrated with fanfare the arrival of the one millionth Gastarbeiter (Schulze 2014). That same year, recruitment was stopped, following the international oil crisis and worldwide recession. Although migrants and governments alike had expected the guest workers to return “home” in 1973, instead, their families joined them. A number of migrants did return to their home countries, but the overall number of non-German citizens in Germany rose from 3.9 million in 1973 to 4.6 million in 1980, or 7.4 % of the population (Rühl 2009: 49; OECD 1997: 218). In 1985, Turkish citizens were the largest non-German citizen group, at 1.4 million, followed by those from (the former) Yugoslavia at 590,000, Italy and Greece (OECD 1997: 227). Spain and Portugal were the seventh and eighth largest nationalities (OECD 1997: 227). The non-citizen population continued to grow, in part due to continued migration, but also due to a lack of jus soli and low naturalisation among non-Germans: children born to non-German citizens did not automatically become German citizens until 2000 (retroactive to 1990). Germany was heavily criticized until 2000 for its comparatively restrictive – in European comparison – citizenship policy and for its explicit statements that it was not a “country of immigration”.
Despite the end of guest worker recruitment in 1973, migration to Germany continued. Family reunification continued to represent a significant number of incoming migrants. 1992 was a high point of net inflow –782,000 (BAMF 2015a: 12) – butexceeded by the 1.1 million net migration in 2015 (Destatis 2016). In addition to family reunification, the net inflow in 1992 also included flows directly linked to the end of the Cold War, with a large number of asylum-seekers (438,000), and migrants who were German citizens – 230,000 Aussiedler, or ethnic German migrants from Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Aussiedler migration was restricted sharply starting in 1990 (Klekowski von Koppenfels 2009), and declined to 2400 by 2013 (BVA 2013). This post-Cold War migration flow was a very particular part of the history of migration to Germany.
The primary story of the guest worker migration is the shift from recruitment to family reunification in the 1970s and 1980s, when Germany was a “reluctant land of immigration” (Martin 2014: 224), and to a self-acknowledged country of immigration in 2000. Germany’s historical reluctance to embrace migration is the backdrop to the more enthusiastic recruitment of Southern European migrant workers today.
9.5 Debates in the Twenty-First Century
The current recruitment of Southern Europeans cannot thus be seen in isolation, but must be examined against the backdrop of the ongoing discussions of about the integration of post-war migrants and their children. When Gastarbeiter recruitment ended in 1973, the era of family reunification, and with it the integration of Ausländer, or foreigners, started, albeit in fits and starts – illustrated by an examination of the evolution of the terminology used to refer to non-German citizens living in Germany. A succession of terms has been used and discarded, reflecting the evolving discussion on integration and demonstrating the shift from “reluctant land of immigration” to confirmed immigration country. Over time, the term Gastarbeiter became seen as inaccurate and even offensive, given the clear settlement of migrants in Germany. It was far less common by the early 1980s and was last used in Bundestag documents in 1994.
Government documents and speeches shifted as early as 1976 to the use of the term Ausländer – many of whom were born in Germany. This term gradually became the predominant term, and remained so until the late 1990s. Ausländische Mitbürger, or “foreign fellow citizens” (Boehm 1999), first used by German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in 1987 (Bundesregierung 1987), expressed these individuals’ formal non-citizen status, yet captured their social inclusion.
Although ausländische Mitbürger is still used, above all by municipalities, together with Zuwanderer, or migrants, the current predominant term is the unwieldy phrase Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund (“people with a migratory background”; perhaps best translated as “individuals of migrant origin”). It was first used in the 2005 Microcensus, when this group was first defined to include both citizens and non-citizens, referring to any person born outside of Germany after 1949, or born in Germany to at least one parent who was him- or herself born abroad. It thus – significantly – includes both individuals of non-German origin as well as Aussiedler – ethnic German migrants – and their children (Destatis 2013: 6). This term includes all of those who have migrated to Germany, whether German or non-German, representing a significant step forward in the inclusion of migrants and their offspring.
Despite Germany’s clear shift to seeing itself as an immigration country, there are, as in all immigration countries, still challenges. In 2014 and 2015, there were in Germany, as across Europe, protests against so-called Islamisation, led in Germany by Pegida (Patriotische Europäer gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes, or Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the West) (Spiegel Online 2014b; Braden et al. 2015). At nearly every protest, counter-protestors outnumbered the Pegida supporters. Nonetheless, Dresden’s high-tech industry was concerned that Pegida protests might deter their much-needed foreign highly skilled workers (El-Sharif and Schultz 2015). Chancellor Merkel clearly condemned the demonstrations in her 2015 New Year address, noting that migration “benefits us all” (Bundesregierung 2014). Germany’s status as an immigration country was, once again, clearly acknowledged and supported by the Chancellor. Germany is also the largest receiving country in Europe for Syrian refugees, with clear leadership from Chancellor Merkel, despite some opposition. In addition to over 200,000 asylum-seekers who filed a claim in Germany in 2014 (BAMF 2015b) and nearly 500,000 in 2015 (BAMF 2015d), Germany led the EU response to Syrians in 2015, accepting 31,000 of the 120,000 to be re-located within Europe (BMI 2015) and accepting 30,000 Syrian refugees from first countries of asylum; nearly two-thirds of the overall European pledge (UNHCR 2015). In short, Germany, like the classic immigration countries United States, Canada and Australia, has clear family, labour and humanitarian streams of migration.
9.5.2 Country of Immigration
German politicians famously stated for many years that Germany was “not a country of immigration.” A turning point was the Independent Migration Commission’s 2001 report which noted that “Germany is, in point of fact, a country of immigration” (Unabhängige Kommission “Zuwanderung” 2001: 1).
This statement reified what had been strongly indicated in 2000 by the passage of a heavily revised Citizenship Act introducing jus soli. Following this Act, children born in Germany to non-citizen parents, at least one of whom had lived for at least 8 years in Germany, received German citizenship at birth. Although naturalisation had long been possible in Germany, and was facilitated in 1990, 1993 and 2000, it often required relinquishing the original citizenship (after 2000 only in about 50 % of the cases), which was shown to be one factor inhibiting naturalisation for non-EU citizens (Böcker and Thränhardt 2006). Taking effect 1 January 2005, a new Immigration Law was another important step in Germany’s transition to an immigration country. The Immigration Law effectively introduced highly skilled migration, which became regulated by law, rather than government ordinances such as the Green Card.
There remain significant concerns within Germany about the poorer-than-wished-for integration of Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund, as discussed in Sect. 9.3 above. Their chances of achieving higher education, work commensurate with their education, and employment overall remain lower than those of their native German peers (see Tables 9.5 and 9.6), although numerous policies and programmes are undertaken to address these shortcomings. In 2006, Chancellor Angela Merkel developed a National Integration Plan and introduced the annual Integrationsgipfel, or Integration Summit. Dismissed by some as “nothing more than Kaffeeklatsch” (Conrad 2005), others promoted the event while Chancellor Merkel noted that previously disregarded but important issues had been raised (Conrad 2005).
Recent German government policy vis-à-vis those of migrant origin – recent migrants, long-term residents and their children – is markedly and explicitly more inclusive than at any point in post-war German history. Chancellor Merkel’s 2013 statement “It is not enough to be a country with a high migration rate; we also have to become a country of integration” (Die Welt 2013a) is illustrative. Challenges – perhaps even the hallmark of an immigration country – remain, such as opposition in some quarters over welcoming nearly 500,000 asylum-seekers in 2015, but they are recognised and steps are taken to address them.
9.5.3 Post-Accession Migration
Post-accession migration from Eastern and Central Europe has been significant (see Table 9.1), despite restrictions placed on EU-8 migration until 1 May 2011. Above all, the migration of Romanian and Bulgarian citizens to Germany, whose freedom of movement restrictions expired on 1 January 2014, raised the question of so-called “welfare migration” or “poverty migration” – the claim that individuals migrated to Germany only to claim benefits. The Institute for Employment Research found that only a minority of Romanian and Bulgarian migrants in Germany were claiming child benefits (16.7 %) (Spiegel Online 2014a), yet widespread impressions of exploitation of the system remained.
Municipalities in Germany were permitted to place restrictions on access to Hartz IV social assistance, a decision contested by a Romanian woman. The case was heard before the European Court of Justice, which decided that EU citizens did not have a right to social assistance during the first 3 months of their stay in another EU country and that countries may deny social assistance to EU citizens who move for the sole purpose of acquiring that assistance (Spiegel Online 2014c; Curia 2014). The deregulation undertaken prior to increased net migration thus continued. The decision does not affect EU citizens who have never worked in Germany nor those who come to Germany to work.
The post-accession migration, coupled with ongoing discussions about integrating the children and grandchildren of the post-war Gastarbeiter and later refugees and other migrants, is another element of the context in which contemporary Southern European migration must be seen.
9.5.4 Highly Skilled Migration in Germany
Post-war Gastarbeiter migration was the result of bi-lateral national-level recruitment of low-skilled individuals, needed in the booming post-war economy. The more recent shift toward the recruitment of highly skilled migrants – whether EU citizens or not – can be traced back to concern which emerged in the 1990s over the Fachkräftemangel particularly in the IT industry (Neubecker 2014). Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s unexpected announcement at the 2000 computer fair CeBIT that a programme to cover a labour shortage for IT workers, the so-called Green Card,3 would be implemented immediately (Astheimer 2010), was the first policy reflection of this concern. The CeBIT announcement sparked debate, sometimes rancorous, as to whether further immigration to Germany was needed, but the Green Card was implemented (Spiegel Online 2000), just as Germany was shifting to a self-recognition as an immigration country. The concern over lack of skilled workers continues to be reflected today in recruitment from Southern Europe and further.
Nearly 15,000 non-EU nationals (primarily Indians, Russians and Romanians) took advantage of the Green Card programme by mid-2004, a number acclaimed by some, but which prompted others to call it a failure – not all 20,000 annual spots were filled (Kolb 2005, Creutzberg 2013). Above all, however, the programme re-introduced the argument that immigration could be a positive force in Germany (Astheimer 2010) and led to positive debate on the need to reform immigration in Germany (Kolb 2005). Although intended for Third Country Nationals, not EU citizens, and later subsumed into the Immigration Law passed in 2004, the Green Card played a key role in indicating both the willingness of Germany to recruit skilled workers as well as demonstrating the needs of the economy.
188.8.131.52 New Recruitment of Southern Europeans in Germany
Young Southern European engineers, healthcare workers and others, many of whom do not have further training opportunities at home, are explicitly recruited to fill the need for trained labour in a range of professions, thus both providing labour in Germany and gaining skills which could be brought back home. This post-crisis migration could thus be characterised as having elements of migration and development.4 Whether they are able to find commensurate employment in their home countries, effectively applying their new training, remains to be seen.
The positive net migration flow from Southern Europe continues, although it is considerably smaller than that of the EU-10 (141,000 compared to 491,000; see Table 9.1). This migration flow was widely praised for bringing in skilled workers, but it also led to the discussion of access to social welfare with respect to Southern Europeans; access to basic social assistance – Hartz IV – was restricted first for Greeks, Portuguese and Spaniards before the restriction was extended to EU-10 migrants. As the Federal Labour Ministry said, “We want immigration of skilled workers, not immigration into the social system” (Wisdorff 2012). The large-scale public debate, however, only emerged strongly with respect to EU-10 migrants.
If there is debate about these “model migrants” from Southern Europe (Böcking 2014), then it is that their migration and integration is seen through the lens of the ongoing challenges of integrating the previous waves of migrants (Astheimer 2012). As then-Integration Representative Maria Böhmer said, “We must learn from the mistakes of the past. … People must feel accepted here. That all belongs to a welcoming culture” (Toprak et al. 2012). Although, overall, the government’s tone has been a welcoming one, shortcomings in helping migrants to learn German and settle in have been acknowledged, and improved mechanisms put in place (Spiegel Online 2014d). In contrast to the post-war flow, it is hoped – by firms and by the government – that these migrants will stay (Kreuzmann and Nienhaus 2013). This double recognition – that these highly skilled Southern European migrants are a positive force for the German economy and society, and that a top-down positive, and long-term, context of reception is crucial for successful integration – is very significant in Germany’s still relatively recent position as an immigration country. Even so, recruitment is still not yet at the levels the government aims to achieve.
Recruitment occurs on many levels, ranging from the employers themselves to the Federal Employment Agency. Some rely on their own personal contacts, as one owner of a home health care service with 40 employees does (Siems 2014). Another employer, having difficulty in finding apprentices, spoke with the local chamber of commerce while on vacation in Mallorca, which led to ever-increasing placements of young Spaniards in his construction firm (Bast 2013). Nor is recruitment only from the German side; sending-country middlemen, themselves previously unemployed, have emerged, pairing job-seekers with employment in Germany (Die Welt 2012). Above all, however, recruitment has been coordinated by regions, municipalities, chambers of commerce, professional associations and by the Federal Employment Agency, all of which attend job fairs in Southern Europe. This recruitment serves a real need in Germany, which recognises that demographic change will require more workers, as noted in the government-sponsored “Make it in Germany” webpage (Make it in Germany n.d.).
184.108.40.206 Facilitation of Employment
In recognition of both the current lack of skilled workers and the future demographic need, the German Federal government as well as several EU programmes have considerably facilitated the migration of young Southern Europeans and their recruitment by German firms.
The Federal Recognition Act (Anerkennungsgesetz), taking effect in 2012, sought to simplify the recognition procedure of certain foreign qualifications (OECD 2014: 74). While EU citizens enjoy freedom of movement within the EU, their qualifications often do not travel as freely, with the result that Spanish “doctors may exist as taxi drivers or qualified technicians slave away as laborers” (Siems 2014). The Act sought to facilitate these recognitions (BGBl 2011). The professions affected fell under the federal states’ competence;by mid-2014, laws had been put into place in all 16 states (BMBF 2014: 24–25, Anerkennung in Deutschland). The Act was criticised by the Expert Council on Migration and Integration for not including more professions and for not having wholly addressed the complexity of recognition of qualifications (Flohr and Popp 2013), yet prior to the law, it took a doctor’s qualifications 13 months, on average, to be recognised, while the Act posits a maximum of three (Peters 2013). The government’s initial report on the Act noted, moreover, that “With the Federal Recognition Act, the Federal Government created for the first time a general right to have the equivalence of a foreign qualification with a German referential profession assessed” (BMBF 2014: 6). The process of the recognition of qualifications as well as language training is financed by the German Federal Government (OECD 2014: 9).
The Federal Employment Agency, in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, has established the programme MobiPro EU, which seeks to attract young EU citizens to Germany. Of applicants in 2013, 60 % were Spaniards (RKW 2013, p. 4). The programme, started in 2013 and scheduled to run through 2018, and its website – Job of My Life5 – seeks to promote “vocational mobility of young EU citizens in the European labour market … to contribute to a reduction in youth unemployment in Europe and to obtain and secure skilled workers in Germany” (BMAS 2014, no pagination). The programme covers German language training in the home country, an introductory internship in Germany and further language training – since increased – among other benefits (BMAS 2014; Böcking 2014). Effort is made, both on the German and migrant side, to achieve success in these migrations. As one migrant said, “We have two apprenticeships” – language training and the actual training – (Böcking 2014).
It is unclear how many of the Southern European migrants have been recruited or have spontaneously migrated; exact records are not kept (SVR 2013: 95). The same mechanism which facilitates recruitment by German regions, cities, companies and trade and industry chambers, namely the free movement of workers within the EU, also facilitates spontaneous migration.
220.127.116.11 Highly Skilled and Low Skilled Migration Alike
Although the post-2007 Southern European migrants are, on average, both more highly skilled than their post-war brethren and native Germans (see Table 9.4), those who have primary education do still make up around one-third of the total. For those individuals, also affected by high unemployment in their sending countries, Germany may not represent a more stable situation. As noted above (see Sect. 9.3), the labour market success of recent migrants in Germany is uneven, with skilled migrants achieving well, but the low-skilled considerably less so. Indeed, sociologist Tsianos calls the unstable, low-paid employment in restaurants “a precarious form of EU citizens’ labour mobility” (Die Welt 2013b, no pagination).
As noted above (Sect. 9.3), de-skilling plays some role for Southern Europeans (Siems 2014). Indeed, the highly-skilled and others may be working far below their skill level, pursuing additional degrees or working as au pairs, as one Spanish biochemist chose to do, as a “way to learn the language and then look for a job in Germany as a teacher or in a research lab” (FAZ 2012, no pagination). The young man profiled in that 2012 story went on to work at his skill level – as a researcher in the chemical industry – after his current employer read the newspaper story (Petersdorff 2013). At the same time, there is concern, particularly in Italy, over so-called brain drain; a higher proportion of the migrants have tertiary education than the general Italian population (Bremer 2013; see also Chap. 4, this volume).
The new Southern European migration to Germany emerges strongly from Germany’s awareness of a need for migrant labour and an acceptance – and embracing – of its status as an immigration country. The backdrop to this migration is the ongoing integration of post-war guest workers and their descendants, increasingly explicitly addressed and facilitated. It can also be seen in the context of what might be called migration and development vis-à-vis Southern Europe. In 2012, Southern European countries became net remittance-receiving countries for the first time in 10 years, indicating that Southern Europeans in Germany and elsewhere are sending money home. Overall, 18 billion US dollars were sent out of Germany worldwide in 2012 (Weingartner 2013).
It is clear that a new era of recruited Southern European migration to Germany is well underway, inevitably inviting comparisons with the post-war Gastarbeiter migration. In 2013, Germany became the most important receiving country within the European Union for internal European migration; one-third of all internal EU migrants went to Germany in 2013 (OECD 2014: 13 and 23). Thanks in part to this migration, in 2013, Germany became the OECD country with the second-largest absolute number of migrants, second only to the United States (OECD 2014: 19). Numerically, as well as philosophically, Germany is a consolidated immigration country.
Nor does the migration from Southern Europe show any signs of slowing down; rather, further recruitment is encouraged by the government. Whether the migration remains a largely circular one or shifts to permanent migration is as yet unclear, although it may be assumed that some portion will remain in Germany. What is also unclear is how the motivating factors of migration (see Chaps. 3, 4, 5, and 6, this volume) and the substantial and increasing labour needs of Germany interact. Above all, from a German perspective, the new Southern European migration is seen in a context of demographic change and foreseeable ongoing labour shortages: “Immigrants are not a threat, but a chance for Germany. Demographic change will promote a rethinking over the next few years” (Borstel 2012).
With its recruitment of highly-skilled workers, today’s migration to Germany is remarkably similar to that of classic immigration countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia. As in all immigration countries, debates – at times heated and politically divisive – remain over elements of migration, such as undocumented migration or arrival of asylum seekers, and will continue to do so. In Germany, the debate about “welfare migrants”, as opposed to highly skilled young Southern Europeans, remains, as does passionate discussion over asylum seekers. Fundamentally, however, it can be said that Germany hopes that migration, particularly from Southern Europe, will continue, and considerable effort and resources have been put into ensuring its continuation.
For more details on this concept, see Sect. 9.5.
Occupational attainment is measured by the share of persons working as managers, professionals or technicians and associate professionals, classified according to the major ISCO groups.
The programme’s name can be assumed to have been intended to invoke the immigration culture of the United States, but it is a misnomer – the Green Card in the United States is the identification of the permanent resident; the H1-B visa would be the equivalent (Kolb 2005).
Migration and development refers to the positive impacts that migration can have upon a sending country, here, migrants returning with additional skills. May also refer to remittances or transfer of knowledge.
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