A building site in Berlin. Germany's construction sector is expected to suffer a shortage of over 100,000 workers, mainly because of the ageing workforce, by 2030. The country is specifically seeking skilled craftspeople, electrical engineers, IT specialists, carers, nurses, catering and hospitality professionals/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Germany: Give work permit to asylum-seekers, Ramelow advocates

A leading member of the Left party (Linke) has called for a change of strategy in Germany’s asylum policy. In the opinion of Thuringia’s Premier Bodo Ramelow, it amounts to a paradox that Germany is looking for skilled workers abroad while at the same time skilled workers in Germany are stuck in the asylum trap.

Migrants should be given the chance to withdraw an asylum application filed in Germany and receive a work permit instead, Ramelow advocated at a state conference of the Thuringian Left party in Sömmerda on Saturday.

Ramelow, who is the only state premier that belongs to the Left party, said it was unacceptable for Germany to be wooing skilled workers and trainees abroad while at the same time denying work permits for years to people who had already entered the country. “People are trapped in the asylum trap,” he lamented.

The Left party chieftain expected the federal government to make proper changes in the law on foreigners.

In a related development, Schleswig-Holstein’s Integration Minister Aminata Touré has called for a better coordinated migration policy in Germany. “There is lack of an overall strategy in integration policy that the federal government, the states and the municipalities can develop together in terms of finance and content, and which we urgently need,” the Green politician told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur on Monday.

She expects clear decisions from the Integration Ministers’ Conference this Wednesday in Wiesbaden in the direction of the Minister Presidents’ Conference on 10 May, said Touré. That is when the next refugee summit of the federal and state governments will take place. From the minister’s point of view, the need for action is great: “We need more federal integration courses for language acquisition,” she said.

The term “turning point” must also apply to migration policy, said Touré. “We have to bring together the challenges as well as opportunities in the area of housing refugees, the increasing number of refugees, the immigration of skilled workers, and improve the regular residency prospects of those who have already lived here for a long time.” All of this must be moulded into an overall strategy, she said.

Migration experts and migrant organisations have long been advocating for a realistic approach to the many asylum-seekers whose applications were unsuccessful and have to leave the country. Calls have been made to government to give these rejected asylum-seekers the pathway to regular residency through training and integration into the employment market.

Since Germany faces acute shortage of labour in many sectors of the economy and is looking to skilled immigrants to fill the gap, it appears logical that migrants already in Germany would be considered as part of a solution strategy. However, the official German position is that allowing rejected asylum-seekers such a path to the regularisation of their stay will only encourage more irregular migration to the country.

Femi Awoniyi

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