Rising Migration Poses New Challenges for Austria

Countries ♦ Published: July 25, 2022; 22:15 ♦ (Vindobona)

The year 2022 has so far been exceptional for Austria in terms of integration and presents Austria with a mammoth task, according to Integration Minister Susanne Raab. The presentation of the Integration Report 2022 on Monday provided new insights into immigration in Austria.

Austrian Federal Minister Susanne Raab (middle), Chairwoman of the Expert Council for Integration Katharina Pabel (l.) and Director General of Statistics Austria Tobias Thomas (r.). / Picture: © Bundeskanzleramt (BKA) / Christoper Dunker

The report of the Expert Council on Integration, which Integration Minister Raab presented together with the Chairwoman of the Expert Council on Integration, Katharina Pabel, and the Director General of Statistics Austria, Tobias Thomas, offers a review, analysis and a look into the future of integration work for the 11th time this year. The report is thus a substantial reference work. Raab thanked the Council of Experts, whose work has guaranteed expertise and independence for many years.

According to the Federal Chancellery, Austria is currently confronted with 2 waves of migration: that of the Ukrainian displaced persons and, on the other hand, strongly increasing numbers of asylum seekers. According to the Federal Chancellery, these two waves of migration are a "massive challenge for all systems and also for integration, because the migration movement of today is the integration work of tomorrow." Integration Minister Susanne Raab stressed that "Austria is prepared, but we must be vigilant."

Findings about Ukrainian refugees

Millions of people have fled Ukraine since the war began. Around 80,000 Ukrainian displaced persons are currently registered in Austria. The federal government is doing everything it can to assist in the spirit of neighborhood assistance, according to the Chancellery.

Minister Raab pointed to several peculiarities of the Ukrainian refugee movement: "About 80 percent of the displaced are women, about one third are under 18 years old. We have about 11,000 students in the Austrian education system." In addition, there is a high willingness to work and a high level of education and qualification among Ukrainian refugees, he said. Therefore, "tailor-made integration offers" are necessary for these people, he said.

Despite these integration structures, the minister said, there were "special offers" for Ukrainian refugees as well, including a mobile service point in all federal states, German course placements with childcare, a separate women's center within the Integration Fund, and a buddy program for youth. Furthermore, professional degrees and qualifications would have been quickly recognized through legal adjustments. As well as thanking the population for their support, Minister Raab expressed gratitude to the many private supporters.

According to a recent study, around 30 percent of Ukrainian displaced persons would have concrete plans to return home and People from Ukraine are very well educated, as reported by Vindobona.org. According to a recent study by the Integration Fund and the Institute for Family Research, 72 percent of the displaced women surveyed have a university degree.

Susanne Raab referred to this study and emphasized the findings about the work potential of Ukrainian refugees, "So there are considerable qualifications, high motivation and great potential for the labor market, and at the same time many vacancies." To respond to these effects, she said, close cooperation with the Labor Market Service is important and new measures such as career platforms or mentoring formats are constantly being pushed. "The key is always German language skills," which is why the focus is on language courses and especially technical language skills.

Rising asylum numbers in Austria in 2022

In addition, the Integration Minister also commented on the increase in asylum numbers: "We are observing the massive rise in asylum numbers with great concern on the part of the integration sector," she said. In 2022, around 31,000 asylum applications had been submitted from January to the end of June. Together with the Ukrainians registered in Austria, this means that "more than 100,000 people have found protection in our country. It was therefore still important to maintain high credibility in the asylum system, implement repatriations, strengthen external border protection and take action against irregular migration and people smuggling.

"Due to these high numbers, the year 2022 meant a mammoth task for Austria in its integration work," Raab stressed, adding that it was, therefore, essential to keep an eye on developments. Successful integration also depended on the number of people to be integrated, he said.

European Integration Conference in Vienna

The current development in migration movements could be observed not only in Austria but throughout Europe. The minister had therefore invited her counterparts to exchange experiences at a conference in Vienna. The EU ministers and state secretaries for integration will meet on Thursday at Palais Niederösterreich.

Federal Chancellery of Austria