October 9, 2019


Why This German State Says 'Jawohl' to Migrants (Alison Langley, OCT 09 2019, OZY)

Atiq Ur-Rahman did everything he was asked to do when he arrived in Germany as a refugee from Pakistan in 2015. He learned German and got a job working in a restaurant. But what he believes also helped him was that he was lucky enough to be assigned to the state of Baden-Württemberg.

When nearly a million immigrants crossed the German border that year, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel allocated each state a portion of refugees to share the burden. States took care of the migrants as they saw fit. But while in many other parts of Germany, the initial welcome toward refugees dissipated, Baden-Württemberg -- home to some of Germany's biggest manufacturing giants -- is turning the migrants into valuable engines for its economy.

Baden-Württemberg fine-tuned existing programs -- offering, for instance, women-only language classes with child care that also teach about German culture. Catholic charity Caritas runs refugee homes scattered across Stuttgart, the state capital. The organization, which receives funding from both the state and the city, also helps traumatized refugees settle in. Another of its projects supports victims who need protection.

And starting this month, the state is partnering with Deutsche Bahn, which for years has struggled to find train drivers, to teach the skill to asylum-seekers. Apprentices will earn $2,300 (2,100€) per month during their schooling with Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft, the local train and bus network in Karlsruhe, the state's second-largest city. Each class will include 15 migrants.

For an industrial hub like Baden-Württemberg -- home to auto majors Porsche and Mercedes and multinational corporations like Bosch, SAP and BASF -- the approach makes sense, says Gari Pavkovic, head of the Department for Integration Policy of Stuttgart. Aging Germany has an estimated shortage of more than a million skilled workers. [...]

"If people don't come, then companies like Porsche or Mercedes can't produce here," says Pavkovic. "It's not a humanitarian motive. It's a purely economic motive. We do well when we have an open dynamic business and export region."

The competition to lure immigrants is the future, not walls.

Posted by at October 9, 2019 12:00 AM