Austria to ban asylum seekers from taking up apprenticeships
London, August 27, 2018 (AltAfrica)-Austria is set to bar asylum seekers from taking up vacant training spaces while their claims are still being assessed.
It marks the latest in a spate of restrictions placed on migrants by the right-wing government.
The sad news is part of series of proposals contained in a draft regulation presented by the government on Monday.
The legislation, which actually aims to fill vacant training places and apprenticeships, will be open to people from third countries but excludes asylum seekers whose claims are being assessed, government spokesman Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal said.
The new law would overturn a 2012 policy introduced by then-government, led by the Social Democrats (SPÖ) aimed at integrating refugees.
Asylum seekers in Austria will be no longer be able to apply for apprenticeship schemes
Austria’s current ruling coalition, made up of Chancellor Christian Kurz’s conservative People’s Party (VPÖ) and the far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) was elected last year on an anti-immigration platform. Since then, it has sought to crack down on immigration while also restricting the rights of those already in country.
Kurz’s government has already restricted aid for refugees and reduced funding for several integration initiatives, such as German lessons. Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, an FPÖ hardliner, has also made clear that his ministry has made the expulsion of rejected asylum seekers a priority.
Thousands of affected
According to government figures, some 8,600 refugees in Austria under the age of 25 are currently seeking work, including some 1,300 who are seeking to enroll in an apprenticeship scheme.
In an interview with Austrian broadcaster Ö1, Economy Minister Margarete Schramböck (ÖVP) said that those asylum seekers who are taking part in an apprenticeship would be allowed to complete their program. However, that would only benefit the approximately 1,000 migrants currently enrolled. Further, according to the Green party, around half of those could be threatened with deportation afterwards.
Opposition and rights groups decry Austrian clamp down on migrants’ rights
Christian Kern, the leader of the opposition SPÖ, warned that restricting opportunities for asylum seekers while opening them up to other foreigners was “misguided, as well as malicious.”
The new regulation was only increasing the problems the government claimed to be solving, Kern added.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also spoke out against the Austrian government. “For many young asylum seekers, this would mean having to sit around idly for years instead of doing something meaningful and learning something in Austria,” a spokesman said.
The latest spate of restrictions comes after rights group Amnesty International warned last week that it had encountered “structural problems” in how Austria processes asylum claims.
The group was responding to media reports that an Afghan who claimed to be gay and persecuted back home was rejected because he did not “act or dress” like a homosexual.
The government hit back, insisting that all officials tasked with assessing asylum claims receive the necessary training.