Integration Report

Diversity is an opportunity for society

The German government’s integration report has revealed a great deal of light, but also some shadows. Integration on the labour market is improving steadily. The number of people with a migrant background now in jobs or traineeships with full social insurance cover has risen. However, these people face a higher risk of poverty. And women still face another problem.

A young man works in a factory.

The number of people with a migrant background in jobs and traineeships with full social insurance cover has risen, although it is still more difficult for women to find work

Photo: Getty Images/Joerg Koch

Between 2011 and 2017 the number of people with a migrant background in gainful employment rose by 34.2 per cent. In 2017 the employment rate among non-Germans was 68 per cent (as compared to 83 per cent for Germans). These are only two examples of the data contained in the 386-page Integration Report of the German Government.

Education drive for women with a migrant background

The report indicates that action is needed to integrate women and girls on the labour market. This also applies to highly qualified individuals. About 90 per cent of German women with a university degree work, but this is only true of fewer than 60 per cent of women with non-German passports. The situation is worse for women with lower educational qualifications.

"Swift action is needed here," said the Federal Government Commissioner for Integration, Annette Widmann-Mauz when the report was presented, because women act as the integration anchor in their families. "We need an education drive for women."

Education is key to successful integration

The level of German language skills should be ascertained as early as possible among children in particular, and where necessary they should begin to learn German. The federal government is providing 5.5 billion euros to help the federal states with this. The Good Nursery Act (Gute-Kita-Gesetz) facilitates language learning.

One piece of very good news – as compared to 2007, the 15 to 20 age group achieved significantly better school leaving qualifications: Abitur (highest school leaving certificate and university entrance qualification), Fachhochschulreife (which gives access to a more restricted range of tertiary level courses) or intermediate level qualifications.

Fighting right-wing extremism

One of the most marked setbacks over the reporting period is that people working to foster integration are facing more threats or even attacks. The murder of the Kassel local politician Walter Lübcke was a watershed.

The German government intends to fight hatred and violence. Ring-wing extremism, anti-Semitism, and harassment on social media call for criminal-law regulations and prevention programmes. The government’s package of measures to tackle right-wing extremism and hate crime adopted on 30 October sends a clear signal to the enemies of democracy.

Germany is a country of immigration

20.8 million people in Germany have a migrant background. Most of them were born here. We can be proud of this diversity, declared Annette Widmann-Mauz. Germany is a society in which immigrants play a major role. We must foster all the potentials in our country, while also demanding that everyone does their bit.

In spite of the progress illustrated by the report, there is still a lot of work ahead. Germany needs an integration drive. That is important for cohesion in our society and is very much in our own interests in view of the shortfall of skilled workers and demographic trends. The Skilled Worker Immigration Act (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz) is an important step that takes account of changes in society, said the Federal Government Commissioner for Integration.

The German government will re-launch the action plan for integration. Parallel to this, a specialist commission will be looking at the absorption capabilities of society as a whole, and the readiness of society.