Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Work in Progress: Prospects for Upward Mobility Among New Immigrants in Germany

Over the last decade, the volume and composition of immigration flows to Germany have changed significantly, as the country has moved away from the record low immigration rates that characterized the start of the 2000s. Recent immigrant flows into Germany are significantly different than earlier ones; the newcomers tend to be more highly educated and increasingly come from Eastern Europe. By 2009, mobile citizens from Eastern European EU Member States and EU-15 countries together accounted for nearly half of new arrivals.

A new report, A Work in Progress: Prospects for Upward Mobility Among New Immigrants in Germany, assesses the labor market experiences and integration of these newcomers. Using German Microcensus data from 2000 through 2009, the report identifies factors that affect labor market outcomes and progression into higher-skilled work. Distinguishing between different cohorts based on the period of their arrival, the report finds new immigrants have entered the German labor market with varying degrees of success. Their employment rates largely depended on their origins: citizens from EU-15 countries consistently had high employment rates while immigrants from Turkey and the former Commonwealth of Independent States recorded the lowest rates of employment. Yet the latter also experienced the largest improvements over time.

Upward mobility appeared strongest in immigrant cohorts where concentration of workers in low-skilled jobs was originally the highest. Still, immigrant workers were on average between two and three times more likely than natives to occupy the lowest-skilled positions.

New arrivals from EU-15 countries had the highest levels of education in all three cohorts studied by researcher Nadia Granato. She found that most immigrant groups’ educational profiles differed markedly from native Germans, who have high proportions of medium education levels.

This report is the final country study in the first phase of a research project conducted with funding from the European Union and in collaboration with the International Labour Office (ILO). This first phase has evaluated the conditions under which new immigrants can find jobs in six European countries and progress out of low-skilled work in the first decade after their arrival. The second phase, which will be published later this year, will analyze the integration and workforce development, training, and employment policies and programs that can best support new arrivals' access to middle-skilled jobs.

Previous case studies, on the Czech Republic, France, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom can be found here. This report will be followed by an overview report that synthesizes the findings from the first phase.


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