SHARE
COPY LINK

IMMIGRATION

Kurz slams single sex courses for refugees

Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz has criticised the fact that some courses for refugees at the AMS employment service have been designed so that men and women can attend them separately.

Kurz slams single sex courses for refugees
Foreign and Integration Minister Sebastian Kurz. Photo: ÖVP

The courses are designed to determine what skills asylum seekers have and are held in their mother tongues – mostly Russian, French, Arabic and Farsi. Whilst the courses for Russian and French speakers are mixed gender, the Arabic and Farsi courses have been split into one for men and one for women.

Kurz said that whilst the competency checks are “meaningful and positive” it is a “big mistake” and “absurd” to separate men and women from Middle Eastern countries. He added that the move goes against Austria’s fundamental values and sends the wrong message to refugees.

“If we let this happen, it becomes harder later on to explain why this isn’t part of the culture here,” he said. He added that equal rights for men and women is at the heart of Austrian society and should not be called into question, especially when Austria is trying to integrate refugees.

Separate courses for men and women is a result of “misconceived tolerance” he said, adding that if refugees do not respect Austrian laws their social benefits will be cut.

AMS head Petra Draxl defended the approach and said it was part of an “innovative project”. She told ORF radio that from a woman’s perspective it was a sensible idea, as women from the Middle East region generally have completely different work experience than men, and that it makes sense to set specific priorities for women.

“The group dynamics don’t work well together, when you’re mixing mechanics and electricians with teachers and nurses,” she said. She added that male groups would still be taught by female instructors.

She said the decision to hold separate courses was not prompted by the fact that men had said they did not want to attend a course with women, and that to her knowledge this had never happened before.

Around 20,000 job seekers who are recognised refugees were registered in Austria in October, about two-thirds of them in Vienna.

Social Minister Rudolf Hundstorfer said that he thought that at the beginning of the integration process it was acceptable to have single sex courses for refugees from the Middle East but that it “must be made very clear that life here is different.”

IMMIGRATION

MAP: Who are the foreigners in Austria?

Austria's recent Migration & Integration report paints a detailed picture of who are the immigrants in the country, where they come from, the languages they speak at home and more.

MAP: Who are the foreigners in Austria?

More than a quarter of Austria’s population has a “migration background”, which, according to the statistics institute Statistik Austria, means that they have parents who both were born abroad, regardless of their own nationality or place of birth.

Though migration is a controversial topic for some, Statistik Austria made it clear that if not for it, the country would simply stop growing.

“Austria’s population is growing solely due to immigration. Without it, according to the population forecast, the number of inhabitants would fall back to the level of the 1950s in the long term”, says Statistik Austria’s director general Tobias Thomas.

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: One in four Austrian residents now of foreign origin

Who are the foreigners in Austria?

Not every person with a migration background is considered a foreigner, though. Many of them have parents who were born abroad but naturalised Austrians before having children, or they themselves became Austrian citizens later on.

This is why despite 25.4 percent of the population having a “migration background”, the number of people with foreign nationalities is slightly lower at 17.7 percent.

So, who are these people? 

German is still the most common nationality among foreigners in Austria (218,347 people). But much had changed since 2015 (when there were 170,475 Germans).

The number of Romanians has almost doubled (from 73,374 to 140,454), bringing them to the second-largest foreigner community in Austria, behind German citizens.

In 2015, Turkish was the second-largest foreign nationality in Austria (there were 115,433), but they are now the fourth (with 117,944 people), behind German, Romanian, and Serbians (121,643).

They are helping Austria get younger

In Austria, most people without a migration background (36.2 percent) are between 40 to 64 years old. The share is also quite large among those with 65 or more years, reaching 21.8 percent.

When it comes to people with a migration background, most are between 40 to 64 years old (34.4 percent), followed closely by the 20 to 39-year-olds (33.5 percent), and then the children and adolescents until 19 years of age (22 percent). Only 10.2 percent of the people with a migration background are older than 65.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

Regarding nationalities, Austrians have an average age of 44.8, followed by Germans, who average 41.1. The youngest populations are the Afghani living in Austria (24.9 years old on average) and the Syrians (26.3).

Immigration helps keep the Austrian population younger. (Photo by Huy Phan on Unsplash)

Language and education

People with a migration background living in Austria have a different educational profile than the population without a migration background, according to the Statistik Austria data.

They are more often represented in the lowest and highest educational segments and less often in the middle-skilled segment than the population without a migration background.

However, the educational level of immigrants is improving over time, on the one hand, due to increasing internal migration, also of higher educated people within the EU. On the other hand, as a result of the selective immigration policy toward third-country nationals by the Red-White-Red Card, the institution said.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

In 2021, 19.4 percent of the Austrian population had higher education, such as a university degree, and 10.9 percent had only mandatory primary schooling. Regarding foreigners, 29 percent had university-level education and 25.1 percent had completed only their primary school years.

When it comes to children and the language they speak, German was the first language of about 72 percent of the four and 5-year-old children in elementary educational institutions in Austria.

READ ALSO: Austria ranked world’s ‘second least friendly country’

With just under six percent each, Turkish and Bosnian-Croatian-Serbian (BKS) were the most common non-German first languages. Around two percent each spoke Romanian, Arabic or Albanian, followed by Hungarian (one percent).

Less than one percent each for Persian, Polish, Slovakian, English, Russian and Kurdish, respectively, as the first languages. Languages other than those mentioned were spoken by slightly more than five percent.

And who is naturalising Austrian?

Not all foreigners become Austrian, even if they have been in the country for decades. One of the reasons is that the process is expensive, but also because it requires applicants to give up their previous citizenship – something many are unwilling to do.

READ ALSO: Could Austria change the rules around citizenship?

According to the report, in 2021, most foreign citizens who naturalised Austrian were from Turkey originally (1,100), followed by Bosnia (921), Serbia (782), Afghanistan (545), and Syria (543).

More than one-third of the people naturalising Austrian last year were already born in Austria, and most of the naturalisations were of young people between 20 and 40 years old.

SHOW COMMENTS