Last week in Dresden, a group of company representatives, educators and other professionals met to put their heads together to help tackle a major challenge regarding the thickening influx of refugees: preparing the newly arrived immigrants for the German job market. For a few hours a week and perhaps for a nominal amount of pay to start with, refugees could do internships at various different types of companies in the state of Saxony.
The Dresden-based initiative, named Netzwerkpraktika: Alttagshilfe für Flüchtlinge, includes partners ranging from software and design companies to arts and culture collectives to restaurants. They are coordinated by Dr. Dr. Johannes von Korff from the Korff Agentur für Regionalentwicklung and Dr. Wilhelm Zörgiebel from Biotype, and are working in cooperation with the Dresden labor bureau.
One of the main problems participants mentioned during last week’s meeting was the language barrier many refugees encounter arriving in Germany; and for that companies such as Sherpa.Dresden are willing to offer German language courses. Certain companies could also offer internships in English and French besides German, according to the presentation at the meeting. The group would like to work with partners in Leipzig, as well: not only corporate representatives but anyone willing to offer ideas and resources for the project. Those interested should e-mail Mandy Zimmer, also from the Korff Agentur für Regionalentwicklung, at email@example.com. They are trying to put a more definite list of partners together by November 9th.
German government regulations are poised to allow asylum-seekers to hold internships, under certain limitations, without approval from the Bundesagentur für Arbeit, the federal labor bureau. The granting of full-fledged work visas would be more difficult to figure out. However, the state of Saxony as a whole has stepped in with an initiative actively calling for locals to help provide first accommodation, then job training and eventually work placements to asylum-seekers. A number of companies in the housing, hospitality and education industries are already participating. New interested and potential partners can sign up via the Web site of the initiative, Ankunft Zukunft. In the meantime, the search engine Workeer has been established to link refugees with potential job offers in Germany.
The Leipzig Glocal will soon begin to run job and internship ads we come across for asylum-seekers.