January 27, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Germany calls on workers, where and for how long refugees from war-torn Ukraine work

By whom and on what salaries are refugees who left their homeland because of the war arranged? The choice is not particularly great.

In Germany, as, indeed, in other European countries, they are arranged mainly as servants and in factories. Due to the growing shortage of personnel, foreign workers are being heavily lured, at a forum in Davos, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz urged:

“To remain the leading economy in Europe, Germany needs workers. Those who are ready to “roll up their sleeves” – we are waiting for you at home, this is our message.”

But how are things in reality? First of all, the Germans are waiting for the workers, but getting a job as a doctor, teacher and engineer, even with knowledge of German, is still difficult. This also applies to Ukrainian refugees, who find it very difficult to find a qualified job, despite the access to the German labor market received along with the status of temporary protection. What are the chances and prospects, and how much do foreign workers get paid.

For more than a year, people have been talking about personnel shortages and concessions in the employment of foreigners in Germany. Spiegel, citing data from a survey of the Central Association of German Craftsmen, notes that there is a particular shortage of workers in local craft enterprises.

According to the federal labor agency, the country lacks more than a million workers in dozens of professions, writes Deutsche Welle, builders, nurses, plumbers, truck drivers are in particular deficit. It is these jobs that Ukrainian refugees most often find. The average salary for such work in Germany is higher than in other European countries – in terms of hryvnia, it is about 60-70 thousand.

During the war in Ukraine, Germany received more than a million refugees from there. The majority, according to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, are women (80%), of which 48% have small children. Every fifth has already found a job, and every month this figure is increasing. However, according to opinion polls, German is well known by an insignificant number of refugees – only 4%. Another 80% speak it very poorly or do not know at all. But about 50% regularly attend language courses. More than half (60%) live on state benefits, and housing is paid by the social department.

Polls also tell about the plans of Ukrainian refugees for the future: 34%, according to the study, want to stay in Germany until the end of hostilities in Ukraine, 26% plan to stay forever, 11% – for a few more years, 2% – for a maximum of a year. And some have not yet decided how long they will stay in their host country.

The level of education among refugees in Germany is significantly higher than the average: 72% of respondents have higher education (against 50% on average in Ukraine and 33% in Germany). Despite the fact that there is an acute shortage of personnel in Germany, many refugees cannot find work. Vasily Voskoboynik, head of the All-Ukrainian Association of International Employment Agencies, explains:

“There are jobs mainly for specialists who, at least, know German. As for working professions, for which demand is especially high, then mainly men are needed here – drivers, builders and others. Ukrainian refugees are mainly women. But many will be able to find a job in their specialty later, when they learn German and get comfortable in the local labor market.”

In the meantime, many women are employed as servants, cleaners, dishwashers, factories and farms with a salary of about 1.5-2 thousand euros. They are constantly recruiting workers for warehouses and courier drivers (they can also be women with a driver’s license). The average salary is 2-2.2 thousand euros. Oksana Morgun, who works at a recruitment agency in Berlin, lists professions that are in high demand in Germany: nurses, tilers, plumbers, electricians and packers. We also need drivers, builders, nurses. She says:

“It is realistic to earn about 60-70 thousand hryvnias with our money. In some cases, knowledge of the German language is not even required. Ukrainians are recruited, most often, precisely for these jobs.”

There is a great demand for workers who are ready to work in the fields and farms: in the fall they are recruited for pumpkin farms, in the spring – for asparagus, in the summer – for picking berries and fruits, in any season – for caring for livestock. At the same time, the salary is 1.6 thousand euros net, 150 euros are deducted from it for accommodation. Galina Marunyak from Lviv says:

“The work in the fields is very hard for the Germans. Basically, it is the collection of asparagus, strawberries, cucumbers – in April-June. Without days off, with paid housing, it is forbidden to use the phone. Work is from 5 in the morning and often until sunset.”

Her story is supplemented by Oksana Malomuzh:

“The Germans themselves do not agree to such work – it is more profitable for them to sit on benefits. The crop is rotting, and Ukrainians were famous here even before the war as cheap labor. Although in Germany there is a minimum rate (9 euros with “kopecks” per hour) , German farmers manage to underpay (they often hire our young people and pay them 6 euros as trainees). Although in general, in Germany, compared to Poland, labor rights are violated much less often. Basically, everyone pays honestly. But even a hundred skins are torn off “.

There are not enough truck drivers in Germany – there, as in many countries EU, the freight traffic situation is on the brink of collapse. According to World Bank forecasts, over the next ten years, the country will lack about 150,000 drivers. The owners of logistics companies are in despair, the demand for the services of carriers is growing rapidly, but given that Ukrainian refugees are mostly women, these vacancies are not popular among them.

In qualified specialties, a doctor or an engineer, for example, you need to confirm a diploma and know the language at a high level. Only after that you can get a job and count on a salary of up to 4-5 thousand euros per month. Voskoboynik notes:

“For highly qualified specialists, the requirements are quite strict. If you are an engineer, you can only work in this specialty. Similarly for doctors. For example, a doctor cannot work as a nurse, although this is allowed in our country and in many other countries.”

The rule of confirming a diploma in Germany applies to doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants. The process can be quite complicated. For example, doctors need to first unlearn a year in preparatory courses, then pass a qualifying exam (subject to excellent command of German, at level C1). Then you will have to work for several years as a doctor’s assistant, and only after that they will be allowed to practice medicine.

By the way, in some other European countries it is much easier for doctors to get a job – in Italy, Poland, Lithuania, they simply removed some stages on the way to medical practice in relation to Ukrainian refugees with medical diplomas.

Earlier, our publication talked about how the Prime Minister of Greece Mitsotakis urged of all foreigners (overwhelmingly Muslims, whether they come from North Africa or Central Asia) do not go to Europe, but stay in Greece, where there are many jobs.



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