Access to the labour market


Country Report: Access to the labour market Last updated: 30/11/20


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Persons with refugee status and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection have unrestricted access to the labour market, including self-employment, under the same conditions as German citizens.[1] They are entitled to all supportive measures offered by the labour agency. This includes qualification offers and training programmes, but also costs which may result from the need to have professional qualifications recognised.

Recognition of professional qualifications has been often described as a major practical obstacle for access to the labour market. This does not only affect refugees but other immigrants as well. The German government therefore has set up an information portal offering advice on the necessary procedures (“Recognition in Germany”).

Available official statistics on unemployment only distinguish between nationalities, but not between residence statuses of persons concerned. Therefore, it is not possible to determine how many beneficiaries of international protection have successfully integrated into the labour market.

A “brief analysis” on the integration of refugees into the labour market was published in February 2020. It is based on the “IAB-BAMF-SOEP-survey”, a long-term study on the living conditions of persons who have come to Germany as asylum seekers between 2013 and 2016.[2] The main conclusions of the study include the following:

  • About 50% of the persons surveyed has found employment within five years after the arrival, which implies that integration into the labour market is taking place faster in comparison to earlier years.
  • 60% of the persons surveyed were either in employment or were attending an educational institution or were taking part in qualification or integration measures in the second half of 2018. The major part of the remaining 40% were actively seeking a job or were on maternity/parental leave.
  • Of persons surveyed who were in employment, 44% had jobs categorised as “unskilled labour” while 52% had jobs which required a certain qualification. 5% were in employment characterised as “specialised” or “highly specialised” occupations. Because of the comparably high number of unskilled occupations, the income of persons surveyed was considerably lower than the average income of persons who were born in Germany (between 54 and 74%, depending on the age group).

It has to be noted that this study does not distinguish between the residence status of the persons surveyed. Therefore, it is not clear how many of the persons surveyed have been granted protection status. Nevertheless, the analysis provides at least an indication for the situation of persons with protection status, since a high percentage of persons who have arrived as asylum seekers between 2013 and 2016 have been granted protection.


[1]  Section 25(2) Residence Act.

[2]Herbert Brücker, Yuliya Kosyakova and Eric Schuß – Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, Fünf Jahre seit der Fluchtmigration 2015: Integration in Arbeitsmarkt und Bildungssystem macht weitere Fortschritte, IAB-Kurzbericht 4/2020, 4 February 2020, available in German at:


Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation