Bertelsmann’s “BE Welcome” Project Helps Refugees Land Jobs in Germany
With its “BE Welcome” project, Bertelsmann is helping young refugees from Syria and Iraq get a fresh start in the German job market. Aimed at refugees aged 18 to 25, with the aim of helping them develop career prospects, the program was launched at Bertelsmann’s Gütersloh location with 11 participants in April of 2016 and all of them were on the road to employment by their farewell dinner last year. With positive feedback from everyone involved, and the job placement successes, Bertelsmann colleagues decided to continue the project this year.
“We are pleased that we are not only able to continue the project, but also that we recruited more participants for 2017,” says Anna Terletzki, a social worker and head of the project at Bertelsmann. “Thanks to the varied program, we hope to prepare them as well as possible for entering working life.”
Eleven men and four women between the ages of 19 and 26 are on board for BE Welcome 2017. Thirteen of the participants come from Syria, two from Iraq. They have lived in Germany for a year or two, and come from a variety of backgrounds.
“As a socially responsible company, Bertelsmann takes responsibility for refugees, providing them with sustained, effective support in entering the German job market with ‘BE Welcome’,” says Immanuel Hermreck, Bertelsmann CHRO. “Having career prospects is a key contributor to successful integration.”
BE Welcome is designed to help refugees acquire key prerequisites needed to navigate through Germany’s dual-training system. The top priority is to learn German. The participants receive intensive language training over a 12-month period – daily for the first four months, then weekly. Another equally important element is the intensive socio-educational support they receive from the project team, which is again reinforced by the social pedagogue Andreas Majewski for this purpose.
For the refugees in the first “BE Welcome” group, participation definitely paid off. Each of them has gained new prospects. One has begun his entry qualification in the print department at Mohn Media; a second plans to start this in the summer. Two others are poised to become an auto mechanic and an electronics technician, respectively. Two participants have begun state-subsidized apprenticeships, one in retail, the other in warehouse logistics. One young man is going to school to become an assistant IT specialist, and a young woman is being trained as an early-childhood educator. One participant has been studying German as a foreign language since October, and another has begun his orientation studies in order to study International Business in the coming winter semester.
“The first edition of the project exceeded our expectations,” says the “BE Welcome” team. “We were especially impressed by the group’s high level of solidarity and motivation. We are delighted that we were able to help the participants gain new prospects – and of course we will try to do so as best as possible again this year, with the second year.”