‘It is essential that migration is fair!’
Interview with Andrea Nahles, Chair of the Executive Board of the German Federal Employment Agency, on skilled migration and the benefits it can have on all sides.
Ms Nahles, what defines a modern country of immigration and has Germany now become one?
Germany has effectively been a country of immigration for a long time, with over a quarter of the German population having a migration background. However, we do not yet have a real tradition of skilled migration. For a long time, the recruitment of experts and workers was seen as something temporary, such as the ‘guest workers’ of the 1960s – and there was no sustainable strategy for this. Up to now, most migrant workers have come from the EU or originally fled to Germany for humanitarian reasons. However, we no longer need to shy away from comparison with modern immigration countries such as Canada, as Germany has caught up considerably in many areas of migration management.
Where, for example?
For instance with the new Skilled Immigration Act, which makes Germany more attractive for foreign workers. More support is provided in advance to the people we want to recruit, before they even arrive in the country. This positive development is due to the realisation that there can be no prosperity and therefore no welfare state in our country in the future without skilled migration. It is therefore important to further reduce the hurdles for foreign workers. Faster recognition of qualifications and the digitalisation and debureaucratisation of administrative processes are important factors here. And where we definitely need to improve is in marketing Germany internationally as a cosmopolitan country of immigration. This will become even more important in the future because all industrialised countries with growing economies and generally shrinking populations want to attract qualified migrants. So the competition is fierce! What we need first to create a good image for ourselves, however, is a credible culture of welcoming migrants – something that is unfortunately not established throughout Germany.