In the context of current socio-political challenges in Germany (such as demographic change, migration and demand for skilled workers), the first IQ Congress 'Come to stay' shed a light on the future of integration in Germany.
Date: 04. and 05. February 2014
Location: bcc Berlin Congress Centre, Alexanderstr. 11, 10178 Berlin
Participants: approx. 500 people
11:00 - 12:30 AM
Labour markets and working conditions have changed dramatically in industrialized countries during the last decades. Atypical forms of employment have increased, normal working conditions’ have declined and linearly developing working lives constitute by now an exception rather than being the norm.
At the same time, worldwide demographic and economic developments are forcing the internationalization of labour markets in industrialized countries. This is particularly true for the countries in which knowledge-intensive sectors drive the economy, and which increasingly compete for the recruitment of foreign professionals. Germany has also seen the signs of the times and the potential of international talent is regarded as a crucial economic factor.
However, Germany is not among the preferred countries of destination for foreign professionals. This situation is partly explained by the numerous examples of structural discrimination in the labour market experienced by many immigrants. What political challenges arise from this ’battle for the fittest’ on the one hand and from the hybrid and rapidly changing forms of employment on the other hand – dependent and self-employed, precarious and pecuniary — as well as from a successfully managed participation and integration of immigrants into our society?
Focus Theme 1 outlined trends and developments in Germany and neighbouring European countries in order to discuss possible responses.
1:30 - 3:00 Am
Germany drafted and implemented some of the most modern and open sets of immigration rights in the world. Nevertheless, only few international professionals profit from the new migration paths to Germany. Are there too many bureaucratic hurdles standing in the way of potential immigration? In comparison to other nations, does Germany remain unattractive as a destination? Or do we simply have to work on our image as a modern immigration country in order gain an advantage in the competition for attracting qualified migrants? How do we truly stand in international comparison? How do others see us? These were the central questions of this plenary session. We discussed whether existing legal requirements alone are enough, or whether other factors are much more critical to the decision to migrate to Germany.
9:00 - 10:30 AM
Focus Theme 3 was devoted to the debate on future-oriented education and labour market policies, which would make it possible to remove barriers to an equal participation of migrants at an early stage and with long-term results. This went far beyond conventional notions of integration. Instead, the emphasis was on how participation in the labour market can be linked with the long-term objectives of acceptance of difference and recognition of diversity. Our focus was on new immigrants as well as on people with a migration background already living in Germany. Along with that, we illuminated the future education and labour market policymaking priorities of the new German federal administration.
The starting points of the discussion were the concepts of participation and inclusion, understood as natural and equal access to all the cultural, social, economic and political resources of a society. Inclusion is not only a social obligation, but in the face of increasing demographic change, an inclusive labour market is an economic necessity.
More specifically, inclusion involves the creation of equal opportunities in accessing education, training, culture, society and the labour market. Therefore, attention has been paid to all relevant fields, including formal education, vocational training, further education and second-chance qualification, as well as the recognition of foreign credentials.
Another part of the discussion centred on how recruitment and staff development strategies of public and private employers may be designed so that successful intercultural openness and diversity management occurs.
11:00 - 12:30 AM
What is to the advantage of one person need not lead to the detriment of another!
Focus theme 4 explored how the migration of qualified migrants can be steered so that a win-win-win situation for all stakeholders occurs, i.e. not only for the target country, but also for the country of origin and for the migrant or migrants themselves. Is this wishful thinking or feasible policy? And what sort of gains may arise for countries of origin? This discussion was based on international experience and incorporated several professional points of view and tried to identify some successful strategies for creating that win-win-situation. The heart of the matter was to find out whether and how these approaches can be applied to the specific case of EU mobility, especially against the backdrop of the Euro crisis.