GERMANY – The large number of refugees arrived to Germany over the past few years has raised crucial questions of how to successfully integrate these hundreds of thousands of new arrivals into German society and workplace and how to offer them a long-term perspective. In response to these questions, several governmental and nongovernmental bodies in Germany have organised job fairs to enhance direct communication between refugees on one-hand and companies’ representatives on the other.
As soon as a refugee receives his/her work permission in Germany, the first job becomes a big step for his/her integration. In order to allow the first contact and to promote mutual relations between refugees and companies, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Frankfurt and the Chamber of Crafts Frankfurt-Rhine-Main organised a job fair for refugees “Zukunftsmesse für Geflüchtete”, which took place in Frankfurt city centre on 07 December 2016.
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Chosen with care, the title “Zukunftsmesse für Geflüchtete”, which means “Job Fair of the Future of Refugees”, emphasises a long-term planning. The word “Geflüchtete” is not the common word used for “refugees” in Germany. The word that is generally used by the German media is “Flüchtling”, which is, in a strict sense, a diminutive due to the ending “-ling”. Whereas the word “Geflüchtete” is more neutral and was therefore chosen for the job fair.
Arriving in Germany, most of new comers neither speak German nor are familiar with German behaviour patterns. This could evidently be seen as an obstacle for interacting with the local population. But many of these new arrivals are highly motivated young people, who are able and willing to work.
More than 900 refugees came to the chamber of industry and commerce in Frankfurt. Representatives of more than 50 companies participated in the event to inform about their business and the profiles they are looking for.
Companies’ representatives spent good time listening to refugees’ expectations although most of refugees did not speak German fluently. Very often the language is a barrier given the fact that for most of the available jobs, the staff must have a good level of understanding the language. For instance employees must fully understand safety instructions, which are in German.
The visiting refugees were offered free assistance and advice on how to write their CVs and how to complete their applications. In order to overcome language barriers in specific contexts, interpreters and counselling experts were available to translate and answer legal questions. Moreover, the Federal Employment Agency provided support in individual cases.
“I really appreciate the job fair, especially that a high number of companies presented their business and were available for first contact. Moreover, I thank the volunteers for helping me write my CV in German,” said the applicant Hael Omar to MPC Journal, who has an engineering degree in Textile Industries and Composite Materials Manufacturing and Repair.
Since Germany is lacking work force due to its low fertility rate, new workforce becomes highly welcomed. Refugees, if willing to make their life in Germany, could help the German economy to counteract its shortage of skilled workers in some industrial sectors and thus contribute to strengthening the national economy in the long run. This sounds like a win-win situation for all parties involved.
The atmosphere at the job fair can be described as pleasant, especially that cooperative volunteers as well as open-minded and interested refugees were able to exchange ideas.
“Although the location was crowded, waiting periods were short due to good organisation,” said applicant Mohammad H. to MPC Journal, who has a degree in International Law.
The next job fair for refugees will take place in Berlin on 27 January 2017 and will be organised by the Job Centre of Neukölln.