More than half of small and medium-sized companies in Germany believe the mass migrant influx can help alleviate the country’s shortage of qualified labour and most are willing to hire refugees, a survey revealed on Tuesday.
According to the survey conducted so-called SMEs, or small and medium-sized enterprises, – which are mostly family-owned and -run and make up the backbone of the German economy – regard the shortage of qualified employees as their most pressing problem.
Two out of every three firms say they are finding it difficult to recruit qualified workers and 49 percent of the SMEs surveyed estimated that the shortage was hitting revenues.
Nationwide, the companies calculated they had a shortage of 326,000 workers, leading to a shortfall in annual revenues of 45.9 billion euros ($50 billion).
More than half, or 55 percent, of the companies polled predicted that the arriving refugees would help alleviate the shortage and 85 percent of them said they were prepared to hire a refugee. Nearly 1.1 million asylum seekers arrived in Germany in 2015.
Experts believe the influx will help boost domestic demand in the short-term, but the long-term economic consequences depend on how quickly and effectively the refugees are integrated into the labour market.
Last month, the German central bank, or Bundesbank, said many of the new arrivals could initially find it difficult to get a job because of their young age and lack of qualifications.
The SMEs finding it hardest to recruit qualified workers were those in the construction and energy sectors and those in eastern Germany.
The biggest obstacle for hiring refugees was the lack of German language skills.