Main Content

Ifo Economist Woessmann Calls for Systematic Registration of Education Levels of Refugees

Dec 4, 2015

Ifo economist Ludger Woessmann calls for a systematic registration of the education levels of refugees in Germany. “At the moment, we are groping around in the dark”, complained Woessmann, an expert in the economics of education, on Friday in Munich. “Nobody really knows what level of qualification the refugees have. But this is crucial for their potential integration in the labour market. Not even their language skills are being systematically assessed at present,” he added. Appropriate integration and education measures can only be introduced on the basis of clear data on refugees’ language skills and qualifications.

“We unfortunately have to assume that two thirds of refugees from Syria have not been sufficiently educated to participate in a modern society,” Woessmann explained. Data from Syria, for example, point to a poor achievement level of the education system. In international tests in mathematics and science conducted in 2011, 65 percent of Syrian 8th-graders did not even achieve a basic level of competence. In Germany, the comparable figure is 16 percent. Moreover, in previous waves of refugees around two thirds did not have a vocational qualification degree, versus just 14 percent of the German domestic population.

According to the Chamber of Crafts of Munich and Upper Bavaria, 70 percent of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq who had started an apprenticeship two years ago have already dropped out again. “One to two-year partial qualification training courses, for example to become nursing auxiliaries or bricklayers, combined with simultaneous language courses could be a possibility. Realistically, however, we can expect the road to labour market integration to be long and stony, and one that will require pragmatic and flexible solutions in education and labour market policy,” Woessmann concluded.


Prof. Dr. Ludger Wößmann

Ifo Institute
Ifo Center for the Economics of Education
Phone: +49(0)89/9224-1699
Fax: +49(0)89/907795-1699
Email: woessmann @

Press contact

Harald Schultz

Ifo Institute
Press, Publications, Conferences
Phone: +49(0)89/9224-1218
Fax: +49(0)89/9224-1267
Email: schultz @

Short URL: