Business experts and leading economists state that Syrian refugees could provide numerous economic benefits for Europe.
Many EU citizens have objected to the welcoming of refugees into Europe, stating that it could create a financial strain on a barely recovered Europe and that an influx of what they believe to be unskilled workers could lead to increasing unemployment rates and a dependency on the social welfare system. Recently, however, business leaders have begun to urge European governments to consider the economic advantages of welcoming refugees onto European shores.
Apart from the extremely important moral and humanitarian imperative to offer protection to the countless numbers of Syrians, Afghans and Eritreans fleeing war and oppression, European businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the economic benefits of accepting asylum seekers into Europe. Ulrich Grillo, the head of the powerful German BDI industry federation, said this week that integrating refugees into the jobs market will not only be helping the refugees “but also helping ourselves as well.” This is largely due to the fact that European countries, especially Germany where the majority of refugees are traveling to, are experiencing rapidly aging populations and low birth rates. This is causing a significant depletion of Europe’s pool of skilled labour.
The German employers’ federation BDA estimates that the country is still lacking in engineers, programmers and technicians. The healthcare and leisure sectors are also in need of qualified workers and some 40,000 training places across all sectors are expected to remain unfulfilled this year. The Prognos think-tank forecasts that this shortage of qualified workers will continue to exist in Germany and it will rise to 1.8 million in 2020 and continue to grow to an estimated figure of 3.9 million by 2040, if nothing is done. If Germany is Europe’s strongest economy then what is likely to happen to smaller, weaker economies, such as Ireland’s? Incoming refugees could be the solution to many of these problems, as Mr Grillo states that many refugees are young and offer important skills through “really good qualifications.”
The importance of these economic benefits will be highlighted further once meetings between EU justice and interior ministers commence in Brussels on 14th September.
Words by Kate Weedy, Business Writer