One year after beginning our refugee aid efforts in Germany, the topic is more relevant than ever. Companies wanting to get involved for the long haul face a great many challenges. If integration is to be successful, language acquisition and targeted opportunities are hugely important factors.
In August 2015, the Board of Management of Deutsche Telekom responded directly to the fast-growing number of people seeking refuge in Germany by establishing the "DT supports refugees" task force. Over the following months, its primary focus was on providing initial support. Just some of Deutsche Telekom's efforts to live up to its social responsibility included providing a large number of initial reception centers with Wi-Fi, making real estate available, placing civil servants with the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF), and running the online portal refugees.telekom.de. In addition to internships and training positions, scholarships to Deutsche Telekom's own HfTL University of Applied Sciences in Leipzig were set up specifically to benefit students with refugee status. A great many employees volunteered their time and received support from firstname.lastname@example.org in the form of funding, release from work, and infrastructure.
Whereas the main priority in 2015 for refugees was on arriving safely and getting oriented, in 2016 the focus shifted to ascertaining their resident status, finding somewhere to live, and integrating into their environment and the labor market in Germany.
In addition to the internships and training positions, a new joint pilot initiative was launched by Henkel, Deutsche Post/DHL, Deutsche Telekom, and the German Federal Employment Agency (BA) called "Internship PLUS direct entry".
According to the latest findings, some 86 percent of refugees have no formal qualifications or, at least, none that would be recognized in Germany - meaning that far fewer specialists have arrived in Germany than was thought originally. Internship PLUS direct entry is for precisely this target group: Refugees who face obstacles to integration, such as not having completed professional training in their country of origin, but who show good potential, have already gained work experience, and are seeking direct entry to the German labor market. A total of 100 jobs will initially be offered across Germany by the three companies in the pilot scheme. The aim is to open up career opportunities for refugees over a period of 2.5 years and to improve their prospects on the German labor market. The first six months are used to provide orientation in the form of internships, followed directly by fixed-term employment of two years. What makes this scheme special is that the participants are integrated into working life while attending integration and language courses in parallel, and the two placement types offer a low-threshold way of making the transition to working life as professional responsibilities start small and increase gradually.
The experiences and successes of the pilot phase will form the basis for further developments: The online portal for refugees is also being relaunched with new partners under the name Handbook Germany. The dedication of employees is being used to integrate the new colleagues. Partnerships with businesses and NGOs help to put experiences to better use and position and expand opportunities even further.
Find out more in our CR report.