Sorry, you are an overqualified refugee

Reaching a final definition of the word “refugee”, to be easily found in dictionaries, easily classified, easily put in practice and dealt with, has been the focus on German sociologists over the past two years. What we witness of late is an ineffectual controversy concerning the classification of refugees as war refugees or economic migrants.

Thousands of articles, news reports and surveys show astonishment at refugees taking out smartphone wrapped up in nylon from their wet pockets upon reaching the shores of one of the Greek islands to reassure their loved ones that they have reached the European Mainland safely.

And one cannot help but ask, is the use of smartphones unsuitable to qualify as a refugee? Must a refugee be helpless, destitute, illiterate and poor to win the title? What about the university degrees, experience and qualifications that a large number of the newcomers hold? Should one be branded as an “economic migrant” if they aspire to a job that befits his or her scientific and practical qualifications?

Disappointment and frustration seize many, especially those who have completed their academic achievements outside Europe and used to have prosperous careers in their home countries.

Those people today suffer mainly of two contradictory factors:

First, their woes are underestimated because their appearance does not match what is expected by stereotypes on refugees;

Second, their skills in different fields are underestimated and their employment confined to unpopular, difficult and less paying fields like restaurants and nursing.

A large part of refugees, especially those with university degrees, need to continue in language courses after level B1 in order to increase their chances to find the right job. However, this is rather arduous as the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) covers the integration course costs only up to that level.

Today, we are in an urgent need to reconsider that policy, especially in light of the new integration law, which despite all criticism, eliminates many obstacles like employment priorities and age requirements for vocational training.

The main question here is: “Will big companies and employers respond to the requirements of the new law?” This is what will be proven in the next few months.

Translated by Sura Alloush and edited by Federica Gaida

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