Berliner Institut für empirische Integrations- und Migrationsforschung

13. Policies and placement of mobile labour

Mobile labour has been crucial for the German economy for many decades. Migrant labour, however, is no homogeneous subject, but varied and fragmented. The regime of migrant labour has created a multiplicity of legal and illegal ways into the labour market, structured by restrictions according to nationality, profession, qualification, salary and other categories.

The „summer of migration“ and the following debates about the accelerated integration of refugees into the labour market evoked transformations within this regime. Labour became a central site of the re-organisation of the regime of migration in general. On one side, the new migratory movements fuelled hopes of solving the skills shortage in Germany. On the other side, labour market integration of migrants increasingly posed a logistical problem, especially for governmental and administrative agencies. The imagination of a precise selection and channelling of labour into certain segments of the economy became once again challenged.

Within this process, a growing number of actors and agencies have become active in the recruitment and placing of mobile labour. Multiple new initiatives and pilot programs are emerging, state-driven as well as initiated by private companies or civil society. By investigating these actors as well as the placement infrastructure already in place before the summer of 2015, the project wants to trace the shifting regime of mobile labour in Germany.

The study is following the hypothesis that – today more than ever – migration poses a logistical problem. Our research raises the question to what extent political attempts to regulate the labour market are increasingly shaped by a logistical rationality to measure the potentialities of the work force and adjust it to the demands of the labour market. The investigation of this rationality may contribute to the understanding of current transformations of the migration regime.