Germany's blue-chip companies have been asked to explain why they've managed to hire fewer than 100 refugees, despite around a million arriving in the country last year. As Ivor Bennett reports, it could be a big problem for Angela Merkel and the German economy.
Many migrants no doubt felt relief when they arrived in Germany. But the Chancellor's open-door policy doesn't seem to have lived up to its promises. Angela Merkel said they'd boost the economy and help solve the problem of an ageing population. But less than 100 of the one million who arrived last year have found jobs with Germany's blue-chip companies. Merkel wants to know why and summoned bosses to Berlin to account for the lack of action. They blame poor language skills and the inability of most refugees to prove their qualifications. Then there's the uncertainty over whether the migrants will be allowed to stay. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MICHAEL HEWSON, MARKET ANALYST, CMC MARKETS, SAYING: "Germany has one of the lowest birth rates in the world at the moment. And ultimately if it's going to continue to grow at its current rate, particularly with an ageing population, it will need those migrants." Deutsche Post has hired 50 refugees, according to a Reuters survey. But 29 other firms in Germany's Dax could only point to 13 hires in total. In their defence, 26 of the companies said they may have hired more. But they didn't know because it's considered discriminatory to ask about an applicants' migration history. What is clear, is that early optimism that migrants could boost economic growth and help ease a skills shortage is evaporating. And that's a problem for a country where the working-age population is expected to shrink to 6 million by 2030.