Helping Refugees: More integration through more collaboration

  • Boosting the efficiency of initiatives by means of collaboration
  • Providing refugees with opportunities for integration
  • Promoting personal contacts and communication

Six months ago Deutsche Telekom launched an internal task force charged with providing support for refugees. "We have already initiated a number of assistance programs, such as providing WiFi in the refugee reception centers, assigning personnel to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) and offering internships to refugees," says Christian Illek, Board Member for Human Resources at Deutsche Telekom. "Now our main focus is on partnering with other companies and institutions to boost the effectiveness of our initiatives and promote integration with even more support."

An important aspect of the company's commitments to aiding refugees is the assignment of Telekom employees to support the staff at the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) in Germany. Since the spring of 2014 500 employees have been transferred to positions at BAMF. They are assisting the processing of asylum requests. In fact, Telekom employees are working at more than 50 percent of the BAMF offices throughout Germany. "If the need for more staff continues, we are prepared to assign even more civil servants to BAMF," says Christian Illek.

A new collaboration program has already been established and functions as a placement service for training, internships and jobs for refugees: Together with its experienced partners Jobware and Jobstairs, Telekom has developed and launched the portal. Large and small enterprises can post their job vacancies free of charge on the site that is geared specifically to refugees. This portal has been created such that businesses can easily post their jobs in their own corporate design, and the portal can be automatically linked with a company's own recruiting system. This makes job posting and recruiting processes much easier. More than 200 job offers have already been added to the portal. An overview of the businesses participating in this initiative is available on the portal in the section "For employers." The portal is also ideal for applicants because it has been optimized for mobile devices. It is easy to access the platform to search for the latest job openings.

Telekom also offers refugees general and specialized training courses. Recruiters at Telekom training sites work very closely with officers at the Job Centers of the Federal Employment Agency in Germany. Furthermore, in the upcoming summer semester, Telekom will also award two more scholarships enabling refugees to study at the company's own University of Applied Sciences (HfTL) in Leipzig.

Our refugee portal has also evolved into a remarkable platform for providing refugees with information and opportunities for establishing contacts. The number of accesses has increased steadily since the official portal launch in November. On average more than 250,000 portal accesses are registered every month, with over 90 percent of them coming from mobile devices. And about 40 percent of the users access our portal in Arabic. "Our ultimate goal is to make the refugee portal the most important information platform for the refugees," says Illek. "Through collaboration with Deutsche Welle, the ZDF television network and a large number of other partners, we have made enormous progress thus far." The ability to access current news in English and Arabic increases the value of the platform, as does the constant expansion of integration support in the form of German language courses or and internships.

Telekom also relies on cooperative alliances when it comes to helping employees who offer voluntary service and support to assist refugees. One new project involves the "train the trainer" concept developed by Telekom recruiting staff in cooperation with the Haufe Academy. These volunteers train fellow employees and others who want to help – the focus is on how to conduct job placement training and provide assistance in preparing the documents needed for job applications. Based on their expertise, these volunteers give refugees important tips for finding employment, and they also serve as multipliers for encouraging others to volunteer as "job application trainers." Participants receive course materials developed by Telekom – free of charge – so that they can share their new skills and knowledge with others.

Another exemplary program, conducted by adult education centers in Germany, is called "I want to learn German". Telekom employees act as mentors for refugees and regularly help them learn German. This initiative was launched as a pilot project in Bonn. Plans call for promoting such forms of corporate volunteering throughout Germany.

Telekom continues to support regional governments and local communities in assisting refugees. For example, the company has equipped some 70 refugee reception centers in Germany with WiFi which is available to the new arrivals. This allows about 90,000 people to communicate with those left behind in their native countries, and this technology also helps refugees in organizing their new lives in Germany. Buildings and properties for housing refugees are also in high demand. Currently more than 20,000 square meters of space are being used by local communities and BAMF to house refugees.

"With our initiatives and collaboration programs with other companies and institutions, we want to provide refugees with as many opportunities as possible for making contacts and communicating with others," says Christian Illek. "The more support we provide for establishing personal contacts – among Germans and among refugees – the better the chances for integration in our society. This is our goal – and we will continue to pursue it."

About Deutsche Telekom
Deutsche Telekom is one of the world’s leading integrated telecommunications companies with more than 156 million mobile customers, 29 million fixed-network lines and around 18 million broadband lines (as of December 31, 2015). The Group provides fixed-network/broadband, mobile communications, Internet and Internet-based TV products and services for consumers, and ICT solutions for business customers and corporate customers. Deutsche Telekom is present in more than 50 countries and has around 225,200 employees worldwide. The Group generated revenues of 69.2 billion euros in the 2015 financial year – around 64 percent of it outside Germany.