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City Hall (Rathaus), Schöneberg, Berlin /Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Migrants strongly underrepresented in public service in Germany – study

Every fifth person of working age has a migration background in Germany. But they only make up six per cent of the employees in the civil service. This was revealed by a recent study. Experts call for intercultural opening of public administration.

Citizens with foreign origin are severely under-represented in the civil service (öffentlichen Dienst). This is the conclusion of a study presented by the SPD-affiliated Friedrich Ebert Foundation on Thursday in Düsseldorf.

According to the study, employees with a migration background account for only six percent of the staff of public service organisations, even though they account for 22 percent of all people of working age in the country.

Against this background, the authors of the study called for improvement in the recruitment into the civil service in the next few years. This is because the public services, as the largest employer of labour in the country, are a role model for society on integration and should therefore represent all sections of the population. In the opinion of the researchers, if all population groups are adequately represented in public administration, their identification with the state and its institutions would increase.

The German government already recognised in the National Action Plan for Integration 2012 that the proportion of public employees with a migration background is too low, write the authors. Also in the new edition of the document, an intercultural opening of the federal civil service is cited as a “forward-looking instrument for social cohesion”.

Meanwhile, the researchers’ discussions with human resource managers in public administration organisations revealed a different attitude to the issue of diversity. It is true that in the states (Länder) and municipalities, the search for personnel is also conducted under the aspect of cultural diversity. However, according to the prevailing view, it is sufficient if employees with a migration background are employed in those departments that also deal with migration and integration.

Experts on integration say all public service organisations have to have a range of policies that they follow to ensure they are upholding the highest standards in respecting equality and diversity, whose aims are to ensure that everyone has access to the same opportunities and the same, fair treatment.

Countries such as the UK, for example, have equal opportunity laws to ensure diversity in the staffing of public services. Germany does not have such a legislation and diversity advocates in the country have been agitating for its adoption for years.

Femi Awoniyi

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