PRESS RELEASE: As Germany welcomes wave of refugees, new study looking at previous crises sets out blueprint for successful integration into the German workforce

  • First-of-its-kind study analyzes the experience of 100 German companies integrating refugees into their workforce between 2015 and 2021
  • Nearly nine in ten companies surveyed plan to hire more refugees this year
  • Nearly two-thirds of companies surveyed said they had a positive experience hiring refugees, citing a multitude of business benefits

Berlin, 17 May 2022 – As Germany prepares to welcome a new wave of refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine, a new study published today reveals that German businesses have successfully integrated refugees into their workforces between 2015 and 2021. As the country’s working population continues to decline and Covid-19-related labor shortages make it increasingly difficult for companies to recruit new talent, the research shows that German companies have experienced a multitude of benefits as a result of hiring refugees, like increased productivity, creativity, and higher employee retention.

The first-of-its-kind study, From Refugee Crisis to Job Engine: An Analysis of German Businesses’ Experience in Refugee Integration, published by non-profit organization the Tent Partnership for Refugees and research institute DIW Econ, analyzes the experiences of 100 mid-sized and large German companies that have been hiring refugees since the previous refugee crisis in 2015. It sets out a blueprint and recommendations for how German companies could successfully integrate recent arrivals from Ukraine, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world. 

Despite some challenges cited by companies – including a lack of language skills and difficulty certifying foreign academic or vocational qualifications – the companies surveyed gave a very positive assessment of how they have successfully integrated refugees, with 64 percent saying they had a good experience. While the companies cited an interest in creating social impact when first deciding to hire refugees, they also experienced substantial business benefits from their refugee-hiring efforts.

Specifically, companies said that hiring refugees led to:

  • Better market positioning: 80 percent reported improved market positioning as an attractive employer, while 60 percent of companies said they operated more successfully in international markets.
  • Greater overall employee satisfaction: 78 percent of companies said that hiring refugees led to a better understanding of cultural differences among their workforce, and 68 percent saw increased employee engagement. 
  • Higher retention rates: 56 percent of companies said they saw a longer average length of service among all employees, meaning reduced costs relating to new hires.
  • Increased productivity: 57 percent of companies said they benefited from increased productivity, for example due to greater innovation and improved decision-making as a result of having more workforce diversity.  
  • Greater creativity: 61 percent of companies reported more creativity due to the fact that refugees approach for example problem-solving from different perspectives.

As a result of these experiences, 88 percent of companies said that they intend to hire more refugees in 2022. This is especially significant as Germany has already welcomed several hundred thousand refugees from Ukraine in just a few months since the Russian invasion. 

Prof. Dr. Alexander Kritikos, economist and member of the DIW Executive Board, said: “Germany’s labor market benefits greatly from refugee workers, with many refugees bringing excellent work experience to the table that can help fill gaps in the German labor market. Many companies seek out refugees when hiring for new talent and, as a result, they gain skilled workers that add value to their businesses. In fact, when companies hire refugees, the whole country stands to gain: refugees are not just employees, but also taxpayers and consumers, contributing to economic development across Germany.”

Andreas Wolter, Germany Lead at the Tent Partnership for Refugees, emphasized, “There are considerable benefits to including refugees into the German labor market and, while German companies have shown great leadership in refugee integration, there is more that they can do. For example, refugees still face steep language barriers and difficulties with job application procedures in Germany. As Germany prepares to welcome refugees from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and other parts of the world, companies will stand to gain by ensuring they are included in their workforce. As the research shows, this is a win-win for companies and refugees: refugees can live a life of dignity, while companies can diversify their workforces and gain a committed, skilled talent pool.”

Heike Streubel, integration officer at the Gegenbauer group – a company that operates in the facility services sector and that has employed hundreds of refugees in its operations in Germany – said: “Our refugee employees in Germany have brought so much energy and potential, and we have seen their loyalty and hard work make a meaningful contribution to our company. The investments that we have made in our refugee hires – for example by giving them access to a language app with which they can learn German words relevant to work and everyday life – have paid off many times over.”

According to the Federal Employment Agency (end of 2020), Germany has welcomed the most refugees of any European country – 1.9 million since 2015, 73 percent of them from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. 

The full version of the study can be found here.



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The study surveyed 100 medium-sized and large companies in Germany, with medium-sized companies employing an average of approximately 120 employees and large companies employing approximately an average of 5,310 employees. Most of these companies generated annual sales of between ten and 50 million euros. The companies surveyed come from a wide range of industries – from trade and commerce, to services and the public sector. Three-quarters of the companies surveyed hired refugees for the first time between 2015 and 2021.

About the Tent Partnership for Refugees:
With more and more refugees displaced for longer periods of time, businesses have a critical role to play in helping refugees integrate economically in their new host communities. The Tent Partnership for Refugees mobilizes the global business community to improve the lives and livelihoods of more than 30 million refugees who have been forcibly displaced from their home countries. Founded by Chobani’s founder and CEO Hamdi Ulukaya in 2016, we are a network of over 220 major companies committed to including refugees. Tent believes that companies can most sustainably support refugees by leveraging their core business operations – by engaging refugees as potential employees, entrepreneurs and consumers. The full list of Tent members can be found here. Find out more at

DIW Econ GmbH was founded in 2007 by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW Berlin) as a wholly-owned subsidiary based in Berlin, to provide customized analysis for its clients in project-related collaborations. Active globally, DIW Econ works closely with public clients, civil society organizations, and German and international companies. DIW Econ brings together sector-specific knowledge from their consultants and in-depth expertise on economic theory and empirical methodology – of topics such as labor market policy, social policy, and regional economics, among others. For more information, please visit

DIW Econ follows in the long tradition and reputation of DIW Berlin. As an independent institution based in Berlin, DIW Berlin conducts scientific and applied research, and economic policy consulting.

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