Unless you do it …

As recent weeks have shown, the possibilities for Western European countries to accept refugees within a short period of time are limited. After a majority of citizens in Italy, Germany and other countries have accepted people from the crises- and war-torn areas in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan with compassion and proactive support, discussions are now underway as to how the refugees can be distributed over additional EU countries and how they can be housed and cared for.

There can be no doubt that we must accept refugees from crisis- and war-torn areas, from what is classified as unsafe countries. This readiness is neither naive nor sentimental, despite all the consequential problems this creates. It is humane, rational, and most of all realistic. Because the people are coming – whether they want to or not.

What has all of that to do with concrete? At first glance, nothing. But on second glance a great deal: For one, there is a lack of housing for the refugees. This is why construction of additional housing in Germany is now a topic of discussion. An opportunity, not least for the manufacturers of precast concrete elements. Why not offer simple, state-subsidized modular buildings – initial proposals to that effect are in fact known to the editors of BFT. Secondly, there is a shortage of skilled labor in many countries in our industry. By now it is apparent that not only Syrian physicians are fleeing to Europe, but qualified tradesmen and other skilled workers as well. From other industries we are hearing initial reports of successful integration of refugees in the production activities of small and midsize companies.

The refugees are here. And this situation provides new opportunities. But this demands entrepreneurial courage, ideas, and proactive support. As the wonderful saying goes: Nothing good happens unless you do it.

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