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Germany's refugees fuel building boom

Thursday, December 24, 2015 - 01:32

Demand for entry-level homes for refugees, is adding to a cocktail of factors fuelling a revival of the German construction industry. Sonia Legg reports

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It will be Lucky's second Christmas in Germany. He left his home in Nigeria to find work. (SOUNDBITE) (German) LUCKY FROM NIGERIA, SAYING: "I came here with my wife and three children. We all seek asylum. I could not stay in my home country, I had to work." Lucky has a job because he's not the only asylum seeker. He's building accommodation for hundreds like him. The family construction business run by his employer Joerg Bauer has never been busier. (SOUNDBITE) (German) JOERG BAUER, MANAGER OF VARIO-HOME, BAUER WOODEN CONSTRUCTION SYSTEMS, SAYING: "We have been employing asylum seekers since the 90s. Then, they were from Kosovo and they're now some of our best workers. So we've decided to employ more. We have two from Nigeria and one from Iraq." It's all costing the government a pretty penny. But the rewards are starting to emerge. Construction accounts for 4 percent of German GDP. And Ifo's construction sector index rose in November to its highest level since German reunification in 1990. Vicky Pryce from CEBR says getting migrants into work is also key. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ECONOMIC ADVISER, CEBR, VICKY PRYCE, SAYING: "There is already a push to train people, language skills and so on to get them more integrated and frankly in terms of benefits to the economy that's where they'll come," It's not just asylum seekers fuelling the housing boom. There's been a shortage of accommodation in big cites for some time. Combine that with increased interest in home buying - thanks to low borrowing costs - and a housing bubble is a danger. That's not worrying this family firm though - it's latest project is an extension to the business to keep up with demand.

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Germany's refugees fuel building boom

Thursday, December 24, 2015 - 01:32