More than 16 million people in Germany have a migrant background. Until now, however, young people from immigrant families have been underrepresented in initial vocational training under the dual system - as have the more than 700,000 companies in Germany run by entrepreneurs with a migrant background.
Vocational training ensures that refugees not only find shelter from war and displacement, but that they are also given new prospects for the future through targeted integration into the German labour market. In the medium term, this will help secure the next generation of skilled workers in Germany.
As the competent ministry for dual vocational training and SME policy, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy is of particular importance when it comes to providing access to training for immigrants and refugees. Because today’s trainees are the skilled professionals in world of tomorrow.
Vocational training – a gateway to integration
The Economic Affairs Ministry’s “Integration through Training” initiative aims to help increase the number of young people with a migrant background who complete in-house vocational training at a company. It is intended to encourage these people to take up training for one of the 326 professions for which vocational training is available. Furthermore, the initiative seeks to encourage entrepreneurs with a migrant background to take on more trainees.
The initiative focuses on high-profile events with students from secondary schools who have a migrant background. The Economic Affairs Ministry uses these events to inform young people about the opportunity to complete dual vocational training and motivates them to go for it. Presentations are held by former and current trainees and their instructors to illustrate positive examples of trainees who have successfully completed vocational training. In addition to this, young people are given an opportunity to talk to companies providing vocational training and to learn more about individual occupations and apprenticeships. Prospective trainees can go to companies’ stands and set up agreements with companies on doing an internship or vocational training with them.
The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy also advocates that intercultural skills become part of the curricula for vocational training. This will help encourage better understanding between employees with a different cultural background and can also serve as a door-opener for companies that want to do business abroad.
For further information on the “Integration through Training” initiative, please click here (in German) (PDF, 251KB).
‘Refugee guides’ for refugees pursuing vocational training
There are around 150 ‘refugee guides’ based at the business chambers and other business organisations, who act as a point of contact for small and medium-sized companies seeking to offer vocational training, work experience or employment to refugees. The refugee guides visit companies and provide advice around the legal framework, the paperwork possibly involved, and the regional and national support mechanisms available to companies. The aim in each is to find a bespoke solution for the company. Furthermore, the refugee guides help companies put in place and develop a true culture of welcome within the workforce, which is key to successful integration.
You can find a list of the business chambers and organisations that work with refugee guides here. The German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH) is in charge of organising the programme and can provide you with further information.
The Bundestag adopts Integration Act
In order to guarantee better training opportunities for refugees and to give them clear prospects, the Bundestag adopted an Integration Act on 7 July 2016 which promotes the integration of recent arrivals both into our society and the labour market, and at the same time obliges them to make their own efforts towards integration. The Act includes a number of important measures to support companies that want to train and employ refugees. Former Federal Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel was particularly promoting the "3+2 principle" according to which refugees who have completed three years of vocational training in Germany will be granted another two years’ leave to remain so that they can work in Germany. For further information regarding the "3+2 principle", please follow the link.
Set of measures adopted within the Alliance for Initial and Further Training
In addition to providing shelter from war, displacement and political persecution, Germany wants to open up opportunities for refugees to obtain professional qualifications and work in our country.
Language classes are essential for better integration of newcomers. The German Government has significantly increased the financial envelope for these language classes. As of 2017, 470 million euros are available to finance work-related German-language classes for 300,000 refugees and migrants. Please go to the section on the Alliance for Initial and Further Training for information on additional measures.
BQ Portal for the assessment of professional qualifications obtained outside Germany
Assessing foreign qualifications to see whether they can be recognised as equivalent to German ones is key to the efforts to successfully integrate refugees and migrants in the German labour market. There are many companies on the lookout for skilled labour in Germany. The BQ Portal is there to help them gain a better understanding of foreign qualifications.
‘Companies integrate refugees’ network
The nationwide ‘companies integrate refugees’ network was launched in March 2016. It is financed by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and is to support companies in their efforts to provide vocational training, work experience and jobs to refugees. The network acts as a platform for companies to learn from one another and seek support.
Centre of excellence on securing skilled labour: information for small and medium-sized enterprises
The Centre of Excellence on securing skilled labour operates an online platform to support small and medium-sized companies in their HR work. They can also find tailored information on how to include refugees in work and vocational training. Small and medium-sized companies can find out what rules and legal provisions apply when employing refugees and where they can turn to for support. There are also some real-life examples showing how integration can work in practice.
Our programme entitled “Stark für Ausbildung” (a strong commitment to training)
The "Stark für Ausbildung" programme, which is funded by the Economic Affairs Ministry, is aimed specifically at training staff in small and medium-sized enterprises. It provides these employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to be able to successfully train young people with special personality profiles, such as young people who had to flee their country as well as people with fewer opportunities and high-performing trainees. Further information can be found here (in German).