Attention is turning in Germany to providing jobs for the hundreds of thousands of refugees who are expected to arrive in the country in coming years.

Reuters reports that a record 104,460 asylum seekers arrived in Germany last month, part of an unprecedented wave of refugees and migrants straining the resources of German towns and villages.

Germany, with relatively liberal asylum laws and generous benefits, is the EU's biggest recipient of people fleeing war in the Middle East and economic migrants from southeastern Europe.

From January to August, around 413,535 people registered on Germany's Easy system, said a spokesman for Emilia Mueller, Bavaria's social minister.

 

Thomas de Maizière, the German interior minister, told Die Zeit newspaper last week that integrating new refugees could be more difficult than previous groups of migrants as up to 20% of them might be illiterate and could struggle to find work.

"Now we will receive hundreds of thousands of Arab Muslims and that is, according to everything my French colleague says, a significant difference in terms of integration," Die Zeit quoted the minister as saying.

Germany is home to some 4m Muslims, mostly with Turkish backgrounds. Germany has long struggled to integrate its Turkish population, some of whom live in parallel communities where Turkish is the main language.

The New York Times reported in 2009 that Angela Merkel, who was raised in East Germany, was the spokeswoman for Lothar de Maizière, the last prime minister of East Germany and a cousin of Thomas de Maizière.

That branch of the family of French Protestant Huguenots*, who in the late 17th century fled persecution and sought refuge in what was then Prussia, later settled in eastern Germany. Thomas de Maizière’s family settled in West Germany.

Deutsche Welle, the German external broadcaster, reports that Daimler is training refugees in four factories where they have taken on Syrians and Iraqis with work permits in their machining and tooling facilities. In this way, the Mercedes carmaker assists the city of Stuttgart's work with refugees financially and, through their program, also maintains contact with aid projects in the city. The high-tech company Trumpf has teamed up with its hometown of Ditzingen to offer German courses for refugees.

Meanwhile Ariane Reinhart of Continental, the tyre manufacturer, says that she doesn't think it wise to go directly to refugee centres to look for prospective employees. "It's important for the people to be able to calm down after the stress of their journey," she says. Telekom, the telco, also plans to wait until the federal government clarifies the position.

"I can imagine that we could go into the refugee reception centres and provide information on the possibilities and requirements involved in getting work in Germany, or specifically at Daimler," Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, told the newspaper Bild on Sunday. "Most of the refugees are young, well trained and highly motivated. That's exactly the sort of person we're looking for."

The German government has a huge task ahead to plan the integration.

Jennifer Blanke, chief economist of the Swiss-based World Economic Forum, writes that Germany should use the arrival of the refugees to address areas of the economy that are overdue for reform.

"Despite growth that outpaced much of the European region over recent years, workers are sharing less in the benefits of growth: although median income remains relatively high, inequality is on the rise. Perhaps more disconcerting is that many of Germany's present economic strengths might not be sufficient to support broad based living standards in the future. What would more inclusive growth require? Two mutually reinforcing features related to a lack of dynamism are holding back Germany's economy: comparatively little new business creation, and a low participation of women in the workforce. These are indicative of a lack of the innovation and dynamism that Germany will need to maintain high and broad based living standards. The time and cost to start a business is relatively onerous in Germany compared with other advanced economies. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that Germany ranks a low 25th out of 29 advanced economies for new business creation. Overall, Germany ranks 14th for small business ownership, trailing well behind the United States, the leader in this category. It is true that Germany benefits from a relatively low unemployment. But this is matched by a low labor force participation rate (ranked 20th out of 30), which means there are fewer people in the labor market to begin with. This is attributable to a number of issues, not least of which is the low participation of women in workforce. From a policy perspective, women's participation is hindered by a lack of affordable childcare, which makes it hard for many women to juggle work and parenthood. In addition, the educational system delivers good vocational training, but this is accompanied by inequalities of outcomes within the educational system, with students from lower income backgrounds performing measurably worse in reading and math scores, hindering social mobility. This is robbing Germany of much talent that could make it more dynamic..." More

On Wednesday, Destatis, the federal statistics office, reported that households in Germany spent an average €845 per month, or more than one third (35%) of their consumption budget, for housing, energy and maintenance of the dwelling in 2013. Based on figures from the sample survey of income and expenditure, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) reports that this was the largest part of private consumption expenditure. Every month households spent an average €2,448 for consumption purposes in 2013. The expenditure level of households in eastern Germany (2,048 euros per month on average) was at 80% of the level in western Germany (€2,556).

*In 1685 Louis XIV, the Sun King who built the Palace of Versailles, revoked the Edict of Nantes, which had protected French Protestants — the Huguenots. The edict signed by Henri IV of France at Nantes in 1598 had been a momentous declaration of religious tolerance and later following years of persecution under Louis XIV, estimates of the numbers that choose exile after 1685 in Switzerland, England, the Dutch Republic, Prussia, Ireland (a Huguenot cemetery dating from 1693 is located near the Shelbourne Hotel in central Dublin) and other countries range from 200,000 to up to 1m.

The exile of the Huguenots was likely the greatest migration in a short time of significant intellectual capital in Europe until the early 1990s when about 1m mainly educated Jews emigrated to Israel after the collapse of the Soviet Union — enabling Israel to have the intellectual power to successfully clone Silicon Valley.

In largely agricultural France, the Huguenots came from towns where they were skilled craftsmen and professionals involved in a wide range of skills.