Policies on Immigration and Integration of Immigrants in the Labor Market in Australia and Germany

Today, it is considered that 232 million people live outside their countries of origin, and the number of migrants is constantly growing year after year. Migration is caused by poverty, military repression, hunger, and many other reasons. The protection of people who work outside their countries of origin has always been an important goal of the International Labour Organization, since migrants are more vulnerable to exploitation. In Australia, the immigration policies are based on qualifications related to the current and future needs of the labor market; whereas the German labor market positions formal qualifications as a significant priority, meaning that the employment of immigrants is not solely dependent upon the demands of the state, but on the education and work experience of the immigrants in their native countries as well.

Immigration is considered to be part of Australia’s national heritage. There is a public consensus on the importance and the need of integration of immigrants into the workforce. From July 1, 2009, Australian workplaces are regulated by the Fair Work Act 2009, which is applied equally to all workers employed in the country. The Fair Work Ombudsman is an independent statutory agency that enforces the commonwealth workplace laws. As part of the 2014-15 Migration Programme, Australia provides 190,000 available places, 68% of which are for skilled migrants, and 32% for family members. The Australian economy is dependent upon the immigration program, which supports the labor market and shapes the society. The government sets the planning levels each year, with the aim to meet the economic and social needs of the country. The Australian immigration policies focus on the needs of the labor market, which results with high employment rates for foreigners.

The current situation with the integration of immigrants in Germany’s labor market should be viewed from the aspect of the country’s immigration history. In the period after the war, until 1973, the German policies for immigration were focused on recruiting low-skilled foreign labor. A treat number of “guest workers” settled and were joined by their families. During the late 80s and 90s, a massive flood of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe came to Germany. Soon after that, the country accepted humanitarian migrants. According to the immigration law that came into effect on January 1, 2005, the country has a uniform program for integration of all permanent immigrants, which is mostly focused on providing courses on German language. In terms of employment rates, the integration of immigrant men in the labor market is relatively favorable, but immigrant women, especially the ones of Turkish origin, have low employment rates. Immigrants have hampered access to self-employment, due to lack of information and legal constraints.

The integration of immigrants into the German workforce is based on five pillars: linguistic training, professional qualifications, education, promotion of social integration, and social recommendation. The European Blue Card legislation, which was implemented in Germany in 2012, allows highly-skilled non-EU citizens to live and work in the country. On the other hand, the immigration policies of Australia are created according to the criteria of eligibility and market needs. With the new immigration law of 2005, Germany’s criteria were modified and focused on the needs of the market and brought closer to the Australian policies for immigrant workers.