Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Sigmar Gabriel has visited a training site for refugees run by the Berlin Chamber of Skilled Crafts. He was accompanied by the president of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts, Hans Peter Wollseifer. Mr Gabriel and Mr Wollseifer announced that companies, particularly small and medium-sized firms, which want to provide vocational training to refugees will soon be able to rely on 150 'refugee guides' based at the Chambers and other business organisations for practical support. The refugee guides will provide them with information on language training, refugees' residence status, skills, and support services. In practice, this means that the existing successful programme that matches prospective trainees and companies will be expanded to include a component that focuses on refugees. The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy will be providing up to €6m in support for this work.
Minister Gabriel said: "For refugees coming to Germany, vocational training is a key to successful integration. Vocational training allows people to participate in society and to make their own choices in life. This is the same for people already living in Germany and for refugees. That's why the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy supports both groups when it comes to matching them with companies providing vocational training. Companies that do so will also benefit. They will find the trainees they need as tomorrow's skilled labour. The task of successfully matching firms and refugees is a challenge, as are some of the practical aspects. The 'refugee guides' sponsored by us are there to help with this. Arrivo and Arrived are excellent examples of successful projects that help refugees find their places in German society. The reason why they are so successful is that everybody involved is pulling in the same direction."
The skilled-crafts course organised by Arrivo and the Berlin Chamber of Skilled Crafts gives refugees an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and interests to firms looking to hire skilled workers, trainees, and interns. Following their tour of the workshop, Mr Gabriel and Mr Wollseifer participated in a round-table discussion with SMEs that provide training to refugees and with trainees, some of whom are themselves refugees.
Stephan Schwarz, president of the Berlin Chamber of Crafts and host of the event, said: "Skilled-crafts firms in Berlin are making a massive contribution towards helping people who have fled their home countries find their place in German society and the German labour market. The Berlin Chamber of Crafts has been pioneering this work for more than a year. We have worked with the Senate of Berlin to launch "Arrivo" and we are also lending strong support to various other initiatives. We have learned from this, done our homework, and we know exactly what we are doing. There are now two things that skilled-crafts firms would like politicians to deliver: legal certainty and consistency in policy-making."
The 'refugee guides' project is part of a host of measures that the Alliance for Initial and Further Training agreed on at their meeting of 18 September 2015.