Germany: Country Pulse (May 2010)

Hot topics in May 2010:

  • German dream jobs
  • Integrating Germany’s immigrants
  • Nostalgia rules OK.

German dream jobs

A spring survey by the communications agency Faktenkontor resulted in some surprising facts about the likes and dislikes of Germans regarding work. It is now established that the least desired job for Germans is that of insurance agent – they would rather sweep roads, work as cleaners or even as politicians (the second least desirable job in the ranking).

Only 40 out of 100 feel their pay reflects their achievement, while 79% feel their work to be worthwhile. Job security and career prospects score predictably low, while two thirds are happy enough with the work culture of their company. In the area of health, since 1990, twice as many Germans have registered sick due to psychological problems, which the health insurance companies ascribe to the “specific demands of the modern world of work”, such as limited contracts and the demise of the job for life. However, the group that suffers illness more than any other is the unemployed.

Integrating Germany’s immigrants

Since the boom post-war days, Germany has acquired a large immigrant population of so-called guest workers many of whom have remained in Germany and are now in their third generation. Turkish immigrants are the largest group within the 6.8 million foreigners living in Germany, and they are the most resistant to integration, living in large Turkish communities in German cities. This is the finding of a new survey commissioned by the German Ministry for Interior Affairs. Italians are the group that has best mastered the German language, compared to one in five Turkish people complaining of lacking fluency in German.

The best educated group are the Polish immigrants, two thirds of whom have middle or higher education, with Greeks in second place at 60%. 7% of Turkish women are illiterate, and 15% of the Turkish community relies on transfer payments. Those arrived from the former Yugoslavia watch most German TV – possibly because German was a language spoken widely in that country. 32% of Turkish immigrants watch Turkish TV and read Turkish newspapers.

Nostalgia rules OK

More than twenty years after reunification and despite a great deal of intermingling both geographically and personally, the east and the west of Germany have retained much of their distinct identity. Recently, in a much discussed discrimination court case, an employer had rejected a prospective employee with the careless remark “Ossi” (a pejorative name for people from the former GDR) written on her application. Conversely, many East Germans are clinging to nostalgia for the former republic by continuing to buy traditional East German products.

Some of these products, particularly Rotkäppchen Sekt (a sparkling wine produced in Saxonia) and the Florena range of cosmetics, now taken over by the makers of Nivea, Beiersdorff, have established themselves as cult products and leading brands across the whole of Germany, while the rest of the remaining 120 “East” brands are being bought particularly in the former East Germany. Consumers in these so-called “new” federal countries are identified as having a strong brand affinity; they also look at the price as a principal purchasing criterion. Hence 66% of the “east” brands represent mid-priced products.