Tariq Al-Maáitah was born in Jordan and has dreamed of becoming a doctor since he was young. Attending language courses and studying medicine is very expensive in Jordan, but his parents made this path possible for him and after graduating from high school, he studied human medicine at Mútah University in Al-Karak from September 2014 to June 2020. From July 2020 to July 2021, he deepened his knowledge in the fields of surgery, internal medicine, gynaecology and paediatrics at the Prince Ali Military Hospital in Al-Karak. He then worked as a general practitioner at the South Jordan For Occupational Health in Al-Karak until the end of 2022.
While looking for a suitable place for his further medical training, he became aware of the partnership between the Federal Employment Agency - the ZAV International Placement Services in Bonn - and Jordan and received as one of 316 applicants one of the 15 scholarships for entry to Saxony-Anhalt.
Tariq Al-Maáitah entered the Federal Republic of Germany on 10 January 2023 and received his employment contract and accommodation in a clinic in the Harz region on 13 January 2023. At the same time, he attended the C1 specialist language course alongside his work, which he successfully completed on 10/08/2023.
After successfully completing the C1 specialised language course and being able to apply for his work permit, he was suddenly confronted with the fact that his fixed-term employment contract had to be terminated for economic reasons.
In August 2023, Gabriela Nagler from the Saxony-Anhalt Welcome Centre in Halberstadt was involved in the further process. She immediately contacted the parties involved and the Federal Employment Agency and set all available measures in motion to find Tariq Al-Maáitah a new employer with suitable accommodation. Tariq Al-Maáitah's five-year training programme to become a junior doctor and his planned stay in Germany were at stake. Thanks to the good cooperation between the parties involved, a new solution was found quickly and he was taken on as an employee in the orthopaedics department at the "Teufelsbad" rehabilitation clinic in Blankenburg (Harz) on 1 October 2023 and was also allowed to live there. As the circumstances at the original clinic had changed in the meantime and a new opportunity for employment arose, he decided to continue his career as a vascular surgeon there from 1 December 2023.
His colleagues at the "Teufelsbad" rehabilitation clinic were extremely accommodating and supported him in his decision to continue his specialist training and made it possible for him to change jobs again at short notice.
He has now received his work permit, which means that his residence permit is no longer in jeopardy and Saxony-Anhalt has gained a specialist who spares no effort in successfully pursuing his career and completing his specialist training.
Tariq Al-Maáitah greatly appreciates the discipline and high quality standards in Germany, but would like to see less bureaucracy. He is grateful for the support of his parents, Inga Thomsen at the Federal Employment Agency, doctor Katharina Bühl, Alexandra Hahne from the Employer Service, Gabriela Nagler from the Saxony-Anhalt Welcome Centre and the entire team at the "Teufelsbad" rehabilitation clinic in Blankenburg (Harz).
Arriving in Saxony-Anhalt with a job as a marketing expert.
In my home country of Ecuador, I completed a bachelor's degree in Corporate Communications and worked in various marketing fields. I came to Germany in September 2017, first completing a 6-month internship at the ESZ-EUER language centre in Freiburg in the field of social media, and then completed my Master's degree in Business Administration at the University of Applied Sciences in Bernburg. Since I have a great affinity for languages, it was no problem for me and I settled in very well in Germany. In addition, my aunt has lived near Freiburg for more than 20 years and has provided me with additional support.
Love took me from Bernburg to Magdeburg, which is why I started looking for a job in Magdeburg. In November 2021, I had my first consultation meeting at the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt of the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus. It was great, and due to the excellent networking, my consultant, Nataliya Detka also immediately had an idea of which employer I could apply to. Before the interview I was really nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. However, it was an extremely pleasant interview with a positive outcome. I was immediately able to start my job as an employee in the marketing department. First of all in the home office, because I was planning to fly to my home country in December, which is 15 hours away by plane and therefore feels like the other end of the world. The IT staff set up a connection for me especially for this.
I then started my work in the office on 17 January 2022. It was not possible to have an intensive induction by the jobholder, due to the fact my predecessor had her last day on that very day. So it was a flying change and I had to jump right in at the deep end from the start. Yet now, after a little more than a year, I can say that I have mastered this challenge very well in collaboration with my colleagues. It is a very challenging and interesting position, involving many technical challenges, visits to trade shows and customers. No two days are the same. I am very proud at having this job, I have learned so much and I have also completed a German course at the same time.
I am very grateful to my bosses Mr Zwick and Mr Fischer for being so supportive and offering me the job. We are ideally matched and have since developed a friendly working relationship. The working conditions are great and are a far cry from conditions in Ecuador. There you often only work 40 hours on paper, in reality you often have to do a lot of overtime, which is not remunerated. In addition, you are only entitled to 15 days of holiday per year and workers' rights are not as favourable as in Germany. I feel very comfortable in Magdeburg in general and would like to stay. Professionally, I would still like to develop further in various fields, such as the GDPR, budgets and digital marketing.
The production company visuSolution GmbH based in Altmark from the optics sector finds perfect job candidate from Ecuador.
Claudia de Beaux, HR Manager and Personnel Officer at visuSolution GmbH, makes use of the most versatile recruiting channels possible to counteract the shortage of qualified specialists. For this reason, she has been in close contact with the regional advisors for qualified specialists, Jana Worreschk, from the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus. In collaboration with her colleagues from the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt, Ms Worreschk found exactly the right applicant for our position. I was provided with comprehensive advice in advance, my enquiries were answered on a daily basis and the subsequent placement of Maira Montalvo Rojas took place in a rapid and uncomplicated way. "It certainly takes a bit of luck to find exactly the right qualified specialists, but I am entirely satisfied with the result of the cooperation", is how Claudia de Beaux sums it up.
In the meantime, Ms Montalvo Rojas has been working at visuSolution GmbH for one and a half years and it's just a perfect fit. The professional development is significantly supported by the employer and both sides are happy with the course of the support provided by the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus and the associated "WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt".
Hamid Haddouda makes his way to Halle in March 2023 to sign up for a very cost-intensive, binding preparatory course for his university studies. He himself was not entirely convinced of this decision for his vocational future... On his way, he becomes aware of the showcase of the Halle regional advisory office of the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus. Hamid Haddouda spontaneously decided to ring the doorbell, ask what Fachkraft im Fokus does and find out what help the regional advisors can provide him in his situation.
As in each of the five regional counselling centres of the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus, the complex support services offered by regional advisors for qualified specialists, for companies and for the associated WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt are also located in Halle. On that day, most of the advisors were away on activities in the region, and thus Hamid Haddouda met Claudia Bär, the regional advisor for qualified specialists for the southern Saxony-Anhalt region. He told her that he came to Germany from Morocco on a student visa: "My parents want me to study in Germany. I, however, would much prefer to embark on an apprenticeship in the nursing field." During the spontaneous but intensive counselling interview, the two sounded out possibilities and alternatives together.
The advisors of the state initiative work hand in hand with each other and also have a large pool of network and cooperation partners. Vanessa Adloff, regional advisor of the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt, is actively involved in this case from the start. As a result, contact was immediately established with Ms Sommer from the KAUSA regional office where Mr Haddouda received detailed training advice and was actively supported in his search for a training place.
When Hamid Haddouda was sitting in the regional counselling centre in Halle again a few months later, he already had his training contract in the bag. Now the right residence permit from the foreigners authority is the one thing he was still missing, but the training is due to commenced shortly. But Ms Adloff was able to continue supporting Mr Haddouda in this concern through her extensive networking. Due to the fact he is determined and has found the right offer, all obstacles in his way can be quickly removed.
Mr Haddouda starts his apprenticeship on the first of September 2022 and is very happy with it. In an email he wrote: "Dear Ms Bär, dear Ms Adloff, I hope you are both very well. I would like to thank you. I got an apprenticeship. (...) The Euro Akademie Halle, Trägerwerk Soziale Dienste in Sachsen-Anhalt GmbH, both of you and Ms Sommer have really helped me a lot. I am and will always be grateful for that. (…)”
Mr Haddouda could hardly wait for the publication of his story within our media: "My parents will also be pleased when they read your text. They can’t speak any German, but I will read out and translate everything for them in a video call."
[28.06.2023] The support provided by our regional advisors does not simply come to an abrupt end. They enquire and provide support to their charges. Any current feedback can enrich their daily work. And thus, on 28 June 2023, the following email reached the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus:
"Dear Ms Bär, dear Ms Adloff,
Today I would like to share with you my impressions and the status of my training at Trägerwerk Soziale Dienste in Sachsen-Anhalt GmbH (TWSD). (…)
As an apprentice at TWSD, I am privileged to be able to learn and grow in a challenging and enriching environment. While it is true that I have faced some integration and language challenges, TWSD has always given me the opportunity to develop my skills and grow as a person.
The support I have received from the practice guidance team, the nursing home management and the management has always encouraged and motivated me. Despite my slower learning speed, they have shown patience with me and helped me to develop my full potential. Their recognition and confidence have boosted my self-confidence and have shown me that my individual challenges do not need to be obstacles to my personal success.
Through my practical work at TWSD and the theoretical lessons at the Euro Akademie, I have gained a deep insight into how a care organisation works. I have learned how different areas collaborate to provide quality care for the residents. (…)
These experiences have awakened in me the desire to contribute my acquired knowledge and the insights I have gained about the health systems in Morocco and North Africa. I firmly believe that the development opportunities for the health system in my home country are enormous. (…)
I will continue to work hard to achieve my goals and contribute to the development of the health system.
Many kind regards, Hamid Haddouda"
Aybaniz Garadzhaeva speaks fluent Russian and Ukrainian and, with her two degrees in education, is highly sought after in the German education system. She wants to build a future for her family in Saxony-Anhalt. She felt she had a good chance of finding her new centre of life in Magdeburg. And, in the meantime, she has regained her courage, her confidence and views the future with optimism. "I would also like to stay here and establish myself professionally," says Aybaniz, looking forward to her first lesson she gets to give in Germany.
The teacher and social educator from Kharkiv did not expect that she would have to leave her homeland and start her life anew in another country. The young mother loved her job working with pupils in her home country, Ukraine. Her entire life changed upon the outbreak of the war. The ambitious woman tried to keep classes going at her school for a long time, in order to maintain a bit of normality there. But then nothing could work any more. When the school's windows were shattered by a detonation in front of her very own eyes, she too no longer has any more strength. Together with her children, she embarked on a traumatic 30-hour escape to Germany. Via Berlin, the frightened family first came to Hanover, from there back to Berlin and then finally travelled to Saxony-Anhalt.
In Magdeburg, Aybaniz Garadzhaeva got in touch with the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus through a recommendation and met our regional advisor at the WelcomeCenter, Nataliya Detka. The detailed and very emotional conversation between the two women in their native language provided Aybaniz with a sense of security. She quickly came to trust our empathetic and knowledgeable regional advisor. Nataliya Detka explained the ranking and sequence of the measures to be initiated now and immediately contacted the State Education Authority. In a very short period of time, all the important documents were compiled and sent to the relevant authority. Now, Aybaniz Garadzhaeva can hardly wait for the feedback and launch her new career in Saxony-Anhalt.
"It is certainly one of the beverages that no company, no restaurant or industry should be without - coffee," Johannes Lübbers said with assurance, urgently on the lookout for a field service technician for his company who has no problem being mobile. "Rent coffee machines and water dispensers at reasonable prices and savour the highest quality! Since 1991, we have been offering a complete coffee service in Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Brandenburg, Berlin and Lower Saxony. Full service support is a given when working with us! Whether it's a technical problem with the fully automatic coffee machine or the delivery of new filling products: in our case, everything comes from a single source!"
Johannes Lübbers, managing partner of procon GmbH, approached the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus in February 2022. First of all, André Gottschalk, regional advisor for companies, dealt with the entrepreneur's concern. It soon emerged that the company was quite willing to invite qualified specialists with a migration background to interviews for the full-time position that needed to be filled.
The regional advisor at the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt, Nataliya Detka, assists entrepreneurs in their search for suitable qualified specialists and advises them on all issues relating to their operational and social integration. She put forward a total of four Ukrainian and Belarusian individuals as candidates to Johannes Lübbers. Two of them were to be invited for an interview as early as March.
Mr Rafayevych has lived in Germany for 20 years. He convinced the entrepreneur of his technical understanding and got a permanent job as a field service technician with a six-month probation period. His area of responsibility is the maintenance and repair of commercially-used hot and cold beverage systems. Mr Rafayevych came to terms with his area of responsibility very quickly and adeptly. "He is friendly, nice, reliable and extremely interested in his work. The company is very happy with him. Nevertheless, there is unfortunately a significant language barrier that could become a problem for procon GmbH," Johannes Lübbers added. Mr Rafayevych therefore received a lot of support from the company so that he could quickly improve his language skills. He is completing a language course alongside his work in a highly motivated manner and receives additional support from his colleagues. All of them hope that Mr Rafayevych will be able to integrate very quickly, also linguistically and that they will qualify themselves as excellent mentors in the process.
Motivated employees are the foundation for your company’s success
It doesn't have to be a daycare centre - there are many ways to incorporate family-friendly measures within your company. Kerstin Mogdans is a coordinator at the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt of the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus. As part of her multifaceted advisory work, Ms. Mogdans also increases entrepreneurs's awareness of the possibilities of incorporating family-friendly measures within their companies. This does not necessarily always have to do with big projects. It is rather the small ideas that do not always have to cost a lot of money or entail large investments. Kerstin Mogdans attaches great importance to finding and adopting solutions in collaboration that fit the company and the employees. Karsten Doll, Managing Director of Rettungstechnik Doll GmbH stated in his event feedback that this message was well received by the entrepreneurs:
"On 22 February 2022, we held a workshop at our company premises with our managers. The goal was to raise awareness of the issues of adapting the company's guiding principles, family orientation, as well as the development of appropriate implementation measures. Another concern was to make communication more successful in order to motivate, retain and attract qualified specialists, and to enhance the company’s external and internal image. The workshop that entailed a lot of participant input and group work under the moderation of Kerstin Mogdans turned out to be very constructive and goal-oriented, as it was about making existing good structures visible in (potential) comparison with the ideas and wishes of our employees. We were put in the right direction here, opportunities were discussed. We will continue to work actively on the planned measures and push forward with their implementation.
We thank you very much for the interesting encouragement and outstanding moderation."
Jelena Medjo is disillusioned, disappointed and very worried. She came to Germany in 2011 for personal reasons, originally from Serbia. She studied Geography with the aim of teaching there and worked as a civil servant for several years. But she has still not really settled in Germany.
At the beginning of 2021, the Halle Employment Agency recommended that she attend a counselling interview at the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt. Ms Medjo immediately arranged an initial appointment with Vanessa Adloff, regional advisor at the WelcomeCenter. The two women spoke in great detail about all the areas of tension she had accumulated over the years. It quickly became clear that Jelena Medjo cannot focus on her own career until her daughter is well taken care of. The state education authority finds a place for Laura in Year 5 at the "desired grammar school of the mother and daughter" in Kröllwitz. Both are very ambitious and had wrongly feared that there might be problems here because of the catchment area.
In 2013, Jelena Medjo completed a B2 language course. For many years, the linguistically gifted young woman worked in the low-wage sector in an unskilled job. She now lacks confidence in her own strengths. Having worked this out and having it confirmed through Ms Adloff's recommendations on possible future prospects, Ms Medjo embarked on further training for educational specialists in September 2021 through the IQ Network Saxony-Anhalt and finds a competent contact person in Thomas Nauhaus. At the same time, Ms Adloff continued to support them intensively in the preparation of application documents and job interviews.
She attended her first job interviews in May 2021. Jelena Medjo was still unsure whether she can imagine working as a teacher in Germany. She initially decided to work in an after-school care centre and was offered a permanent position in September 2021. She continued her further education alongside work and successfully completed it in December 2021. To be able to enter the active teaching profession as a teacher, all she needs is the C1 qualification. Ms Medjo can also acquire it subsequently at any time and even have the course financially supported through various programmes. "There is always an opportunity and room for further education," Vanessa Adloff assures her.
Ms Medjo is not an exuberant type, so her highly positive feedback carries all the more weight. "The FIRST advisor in my ten year stay in Germany who really understands her job. All sorts of official institutions in this country didn't know what I was supposed to do with my already-recognised university degree for 8-9 years. All of them except one! My advisor Vanessa Adloff! MY HEART-FELT THANKS!”
"Such a comprehensive counselling success within one year is rare and only possible if everyone works together in a motivated manner and all network partners are supportive," Vanessa Adloff stressed. "The previously highly motivated Jelena Medjo had almost given up on herself. Now all the areas of conflict have been resolved. Now there is room for happiness on a personal and professional level."
How the professional integration of foreign qualified specialists works at ARAL-Autohof in Magdeburg-Rothensee: Arriving, becoming established, developing
You can see the blue flags fluttering in the wind from far away. With its 63 lorry parking spaces directly on the A2, the ARAL-Autohof stop in Magdeburg-Rothensee has become a popular place for many truckers to spend a well-earned evening after work, and for some, it is even a home away from home. The feel-good factor is particularly important to the owner, Ines Rödiger, and station manager, Kathrin Holland. In addition to fuel, a car wash and other services, the Autohof stop also offers a bistro that seats 20 people and a daily changing selection of hot meals. "Here everything is prepared on premises and also according to individual wishes. Truckers like to eat wholesome food! In order to be able to offer such a wide range of services in the best quality 24/7*, we require highly motivated and satisfied employees,” emphasises Ms Rödiger, referring to the shortage of qualified specialists in her sector as well.
Upon recommendation, Ines Rödiger turned to the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt and placed her faith in its advisory services for companies. Marion Hilbert, Regional advisor of the WelcomeCenter in Magdeburg, presented the complex service package of the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus. She held a thorough discussion with the entrepreneur on core issues such as employer attractiveness, the professional integration of people interested in moving to the country, or the opportunities for recruiting qualified specialists, also via the job and qualified specialists exchange of the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus. "There are already foreign qualified specialists working at the Autohof," says Ms Rödiger, in praise of their reliability. The women jointly reflected on the company's possibilities for the professional integration of more foreign qualified specialists and the resources into which can still be tapped.
Mr Karimi has already been in Germany since 2015. The very athletic young man from Iran had already worked in various jobs when he registered with the state's Fachkraft im Fokus initiative at the end of 2019. From now on, the regional advisor of the WelcomeCenter Nataliya Detka is primarily responsible for counselling him. Together, they prepared application documents and an application strategy was developed. Although Mr Karimi was highly motivated and followed all the recommendations in an open-minded manner, the Corona pandemic, that was just beginning, did not make it easy to provide him with an appealing job. Mr Karimi was therefore all the more delighted with the offer he received from Aral Autohof. One job interview later, he was already employed. "I am so glad that I took this step. As things stand at present, all is well on my end. I am financially independent," says the articulate and numbers-savvy young man in his mid-twenties with visible enthusiasm. By means of this first step, everything is now suddenly possible. Mr Karimi can finally settle down in Germany in peace, establish himself and continue to develop.
Kathrin Holland is already completely satisfied with this first outcome of the advice provided by the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt. Ines Rödiger is also pleased about the permanent appointment of Mr Karimi. "The Autohof is like a family to me. I require a good touch in putting together my team. Everyone has to do everything here: Customer service, bistro activities, dealing with the product range, sanitary areas, and more. A certain degree of personal responsibility is just as important as your personality. Everyone has to get along with each other and treat the customers courteously. Good interaction is vital. The fact that Mr Karimi fits in so well with us is a happy coincidence." And it is also confirmed by the fact, that even a former employee is always happy to drop by and help out here and there, that the Autohof is indeed somewhat like an extended family.
"This story clearly demonstrates that it is very important to take a holistic view of all the circumstances surrounding the shortage of qualified specialists in a specific company and to think outside the box. But you also need to have the right offer and the willingness to use it". Marion Hilbert emphasises, and adds with a smile: "And sometimes a lucky coincidence also benefits us."
*The abbreviation 24/7 refers to the constant availability of a service: 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Eight foreign doctors want to find their home in Saxony-Anhalt. We supported them in this endeavour: A walk through the history of the Ottoman city of Magdeburg.
The sun was shining as the good-humoured doctors from various regions of the world met up for a tour of the city of Magdeburg. Those interested in moving from the Philippines, India and Iran set off on foot through the history of the Ottoman city. Nataliya Detka and Marion Hilbert, regional advisors, and Kerstin Mogdans, coordinator and advisor at the Saxony-Anhalt WelcomeCenter of the state's Fachkraft im Fokus initiative, invited the participants. They had accompanied and supported the doctors, sometimes even with the entrance procedures, quarantine accommodation and care, or when on the hunt for accommodation. The assistance provided for the professionals is very wide-ranging and extends as far as starting a career in a hospital in Saxony-Anhalt. Four of the medical students are currently preparing for the German language examination at the Institut für Berufspädagogik e. V. (Institute for Vocational Education). The other four have already successfully passed this examination and can now start working in a clinic with a professional permit or a licence to practise medicine. At the same time, they continue to have their degrees and qualifications acquired abroad recognised, with the support of advisors from the IQ network.
How difficult topics can be tackled in a slightly unconventional manner
The city tour forms part of the support provided upon arrival and to ensure their social integration. The participants can get to know each other a little better in a relaxed atmosphere. They share their experiences of settling in a new country, a new region and finding a job. They network with one another to make it easier to arrive and stay here.
Elke Orlowski, head of the Institut für Berufspädagogik e. V. in Magdeburg, accompanies the inquisitive group on the tour, which first leads to the Old Market Square with the Magdeburg Horseman and the St. John's Church, where Martin Luther once preached. The trail passes by the art museum of the Unser Lieben Frauen monastery and the GREEN CITADEL OF MAGDEBURG to present Hundertwasser's ideas of architecture in harmony with nature. City guide Dr. Helmut Hörold ends the walk at the Domplatz in the immediate vicinity of the city's landmark, Magdeburg Cathedral, which is over 800 years old.
Finishing off with an ice cream, apple strudel and sandwiches, the hours together come to an end just as they began: in good spirits. Just with an increased trove of valuable knowledge and an expanded network.
"It is great to see that everyone enjoys this mutual work. We also get to talk to each other privately from time to time and thus learn even more about each other,” stresses Marion Hilbert. Nataliya Detka and Kerstin Mogdans are also looking forward to continuing to accompany the eight doctors and their very individual and exciting stories, which they can help to shape.
In the meantime, the first doctors have been able to start their internships in hospitals in Magdeburg, the Harz region and the Salzland district. Whether the eight can and want to stay in Saxony-Anhalt is still uncertain. We will stay on the case: in supporting and guiding: Ms Acedillo (Philippines), Mr Antony (India), Ms Halili (Iran), Mr Hilji (India), Mr Macherla (India), Ms Muralidhar (India), Ms Siby (India) and Mr Tavakoli (Iran).
The federal state of Saxony-Anhalt supports companies, qualified specialists working here as well as incoming and returning qualified specialists from home and abroad and their families via the State initiative Fachkraft im Fokus. With the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt as part of the state's Fachkraft im Fokus initiative, the state wants to make it easier for people interested in moving to Saxony-Anhalt to arrive in their old or new home, and to support companies that want to employ qualified specialists from abroad in their operational and social integration.
The Institut für Berufspädagogik e. V. offers a coordinated programme for foreign doctors for the recognition process of their licence to practise medicine in Germany. The qualification opportunities prepare participants in the first step for the professional language examination of the Medical Association with the "Special Module for Academic Health Professions," and in the second step for the professional knowledge examination with the "Qualification for Doctors."
The IQ Network of Saxony-Anhalt among others, people who have learned a health profession outside of Germany, would like to work in this profession in Saxony-Anhalt and have their professional qualification recognised.
Beautiful forests, lakes and meadows, clean air far away from any traffic noise pollution, young parents with secure jobs, two fun-loving daughters of day-care age and a pretty semi-detached house - pure family happiness in the middle of the Bavarian village idyll. Almost perfect, were it not for the longing for their old and adopted home, for Saxony-Anhalt, for Halle (Saale).
Claudia and Christoph Bär had been reflecting on their future for quite some time. "Is this what we really want for ourselves and our children? A good life in the Bavarian countryside with precisely two clubs within a 30-kilometre radius? Our girls could play either football or handball. We ourselves missed the much cooler lifestyle of a larger city. Claudia grew up in Halle (Saale). Grandma lives nearby, and she would be delighted to see us return," said Christoph Bär. "But throwing everything overboard and giving up all that security?" A difficult decision that also takes a lot of courage and very much preoccupied the couple at the turn of the year 2020-21. The five-year-old daughter was soon due to start school and, thus, a decision had to be taken urgently.
"Claudia is a trained hotel manager who later studied business administration and completed her Master's degree in Vocational Training Management. I successfully completed my cookery apprenticeship a long time ago. We met and fell in love in 2014 while working on a cruise ship. We got married in 2014 and had our two children soon after. So we have always been very motivated to implement well-considered decisions in a committed and swift manner. We have wanted to return to Saxony-Anhalt for a long time," Christoph Bär relayed, concerning the decision they both reached. "Unfortunately, all our attempts to find jobs in Halle have failed so far. I got an interview in Magdeburg, which could have been a solution. But just not the ideal one. A final attempt was then to search online for supporters and help."
Kerstin Mogdans, coordinator and advisor at the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt, was the first to be confronted by all these considerations on 24 March 2021. She professionally filtered the young family's counselling needs and checked the services available for returnees in the region of their choice. Kerstin Mogdans referred the Bär family directly to the Halle regional counselling centre of the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus so they could receive support in finding a day-care place and accommodation, as well as appropriate job offers.
The accomplished regional advisor for qualified specialists, Sandro Miritz, was able to pull many a trump card out of his sleeve, knowing how to bring people together. He has a good sense of the needs of qualified specialists and their demand for good work in a company. Sandro Miritz took special care of Claudia and Christoph Bär's targeted counselling with regard to job searches: application documents, job advertisements, information on interviews and market remuneration, as well as working conditions in the Halle region.
In view of his job as deputy catering manager at the Playmobil Funpark, Sandro Miritz immediately had an idea for Christoph Bär's professional reorientation: The up-and-coming company Relaxdays is planning to open a staff restaurant for 300 colleagues in autumn 2021 at its large logistics centre in Großkugel, which is currently under construction. Both parties were very interested in the possibility of working together. One phone call and two interviews later, the employment contract was signed. Christoph Bär has now been the catering manager of the Relaxdays GmbH staff restaurant since 1 July 2021. Relaxdays GmbH was founded in Halle (Saale) and is now located in many cities - including Halle, Leipzig, Dresden and Könnern. It is the largest e-commerce player in central Germany and sells its products on platforms and its own webshop to customers throughout Europe.
Now everything came to a head. Claudia and Christoph Bär had to quit their jobs in Bavaria. A new tenant was quickly found for the house. They visited three flats, childcare centres and schools in Halle in one day. The rental contract for one of the flats was signed and childcare centre places booked. One day before the family's final move to Saxony-Anhalt, Christoph Bär tied up the loose ends in the now empty flat in Bavaria and, sitting between packed moving boxes, tooks part in the virtual "Forum für Zu(rück)gezogene” (Forum for people moving here/returning here) of the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt on 24 June 2021.
Christoph reports with a beaming smile on the all-round support and the great success of his family in such a short time: "You could say we’re on a roll. And we’re equally hopeful that Claudia will be able to sign an employment contract soon. Promising interviews mediated by Sandro Miritz have already taken place.”
Do you know how to apply in Pakistan, how a successful application has to be structured? How should a CV be structured? Do I need an application photo? Irfan Mahmood got to find out that application cultures can be different in another country when he applied for his first job in Germany.
The young Pakistani lives with his wife in Halle-Neustadt. "My wife got a scholarship for a PhD position and I accompanied her on the family visa. Now I am looking for a job." This is proving more difficult than expected. Irfan Mahmood completed a Master's degree in Water Resources Engineering from Stuttgart. He returned to Pakistan, following his studies. He quickly found a job there at the university. "When my wife was looking for an opportunity to gain work experience abroad, we opted for Germany. I had a very good experience here in Stuttgart during my studies."
In May of this year, Irfan Mahmood and his wife travelled to Germany. The first new months in their new home country were not easy. His applications remain unsuccessful and he lacks social connections. He sought contacts through Facebook groups. In one group he learnt about an event for international students. I got to know German students there. One student helped me and scoured the internet with me in search of support in Halle. We came across the website by Fachkraft im Fokus. I think it's very good that you can register directly for counselling via a contact form on the website.” In the following conversation with Welcome counsellor Vanessa Adloff, he received answers on why his application activities had not yet led to success. "Mr Mahmood offers a high level of expertise and is very committed. Both his lack of German language skills and the unfamiliar differences between the application documents in Germany and Pakistan are crucial hurdles for him," the Welcome counsellor explained.
She made it clear to him that Integration and German courses are important in order to be successful in job interviews and to draft job applications. "I wasn't aware that in Germany you need a cover letter and you should tailor it to each company." The notion of a CV was also new to the 31-year-old: "In Pakistan, you write down your career history over many pages and include recommendations. In a CV in Germany, however, you are supposed to present your professional experience and skills in a short and concise way." Vanessa Adloff gave Irfan Mahmood numerous tips and suggestions on how to design the application documents. He was provided with additional help from Jobpoint at the Halle Job Centre. Another building block for Irfan Mahmood was to find out which job profiles he can apply for based on his qualifications. He embarked on a German language course in September 2019. He regularly looks for job offers and makes applications. Invitations to job interviews follow, "but so far my German skills continue to fail me. I have to stick at it. I additionally learn technical German via the Internet. It only became clear to me through Ms Adloff that it was essential to learn German. This is my ticket to the employment market. Her tips will lead to success. I am quite certain of that.”
“I will celebrate my 40th birthday this year. By that time I would also like to have found my way in terms of my career. Now I have a good feeling," states José Contreras-Quintero in announcing his goal for the next few months as we met in a small café in the Kleine Ulrichstraße in Halle. He has until October this year to achieve this goal. Even though he is an optimistic and open-minded person, his prospects appeared rather different just a few months ago. The Geo-Engineer from Venezuela had difficulty finding his way in the German labour market despite his many years of professional experience.
In 2016, he came to Germany on a work visa. "Germany has played a big role for me for many years. Back in 2012, I attended a summer course at the Martin Luther University in Halle. At the time, I had won an innovation award with my employer in Venezuela. As a prize, I was allowed to choose a course in a country of my choice. I wanted to go to Germany. I liked it so much in Halle that I spent some holidays in Germany afterwards. Actually, I wanted to write my doctoral thesis at the university in Halle. My employer at the time would have supported me in this. This was no longer possible due to the oil crisis. So I applied for a visa at the German embassy because I saw my future in Halle," he recalls.
The first time back in the city on the banks of the river Saale was difficult, the language and the different habits in everyday life. But José Contreras-Quintero quickly got to grips with things again, because he also receives support from his fellow human beings. He only failed to advance professionally. After three months had passed, he got in touch with regional advisor Sandro Miritz via recommendations. “This was a real eye-opener. They explained to me how the German employment market works, how to apply and which things I need to sort out in order to be professionally recognised here. Without Fachkraft im Fokus, I would have still been without a plan for the next few months." José Contreras-Quintero received numerous tips and was put in touch with the appropriate contact persons to have his degrees translated and recognised by the Saxony-Anhalt Chamber of Engineers. Sandro Miritz also recommended that he take the B1 language test. It is near impossible to get a job without a recognised level of language proficiency. José Contreras-Quintero has taken care of all these things in the last two years. In addition, he completed further training as an environmental officer and passed the trainer aptitude test. Now it was a matter of gaining vocational experience in Germany. José Contreras-Quintero once again sought the support of Fachkraft im Fokus.
Waseem Aleed, his Welcome counsellor, provided him with the opportunity to complete an internship at Stadtwerke Halle. "The Stadtwerke Halle Group serves a wide range of services from energy and water supply, to local public transport, collection of recyclable materials, sewage disposal, waste disposal, street cleaning, swimming pool operation and city lighting. We offer a wide range of career opportunities. Due to Mr Contreras-Quintero's studies and previous professional experience, we offered him a internship in the energy supply sector," Daniel Bechstedt, Human Resources Department of Stadtwerke Halle GmbH, recalled. José Contreras-Quintero commenced his internship in October 2018 and took on more and more tasks as time went on. The two projects he initially had to supervise, ultimately increased to 12. "Mr Contreras-Quintero thinks along the same lines as us, asks the right questions and also thinks outside the box. I quickly realised that I could assign tasks to him and that he could implement them independently and successfully," Barbara Gruber, Environmental Protection Officer at EVH GmbH, said in praise of him. For example, he drew up a new list of the hazardous substances used and performed a substitution check or drew up an overview of the key energy efficiency figures. Once the internship was over at the end of February 2019, José Contreras-Quintero was optimistic about the future: "I was able to work in a great team and learn a lot professionally, but above all I gained an impression of the German working culture. In my previous applications, I had the impression that I was not shortlisted because I had thus far lacked professional experience in Germany." Now he is working towards his goal of finally launching his career in Germany. Until then, he was working as a volunteer at the Halle Volunteer Agency. "I am in the most productive phase of my life," Jose Contreras-Quintero explains with a smile, "I want to be involved where I live. That's why I support AIDS Hilfe (AIDS Assistance), or give private lessons to refugees. Now I hope to also show this in my professional life. Thanks to Fachkraft im Fokus, I am now very well prepared for this. Initiatives such as Fachkraft im Fokus are so important for us migrants and should help to provide guidance to qualified specialists from abroad right from the start. Not only because of the many tips and support, but so you don't feel alone."
Hussein Almohammad was welding a workpiece using the TIG process when I visited the welding workshop of SLV Halle GmbH - Schweißtechnische Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt Halle (Halle Welding Training and Testing Institute) - on a November day. The young Syrian man was very focused on his work. He was preparing for his next exam in TIG welding. It would have been the last exam to ensure he has the internationally recognised TIG welding certificate under his belt. So far, he had successfully mastered all five of the required modules.
Hussein Almohammad had already worked in Syria as a welder at a port. Having arrived in Germany, he had wanted to start working in this field once more. But he realised that he required support, not only in finding a job, but also due to the fact you can only work as a welder if you have the necessary welding certification. While researching counselling options on the internet, he came across Fachkraft im Fokus and made an appointment with Waseem Aleed, Welcome counsellor for Halle and southern Saxony-Anhalt. The Welcome counselling provided by the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus helps refugees, among others, to have the qualifications they have already acquired recognised, to improve their language skills or with further training. "Waseem helped me a lot. I wouldn’t be here now without him,” Hussein Almohammad stated. The Welcome counsellor clarified the qualification requirements with the SLV and prepared all the necessary documents for the application at the Jobcenter Halle. "Hussein mastered the interview with the job centre on his own. It was important to me that he made a personal commitment to this. And that was the right way to go," said Waseem Aleed. The Syrian man commenced his qualification training in May 2017. He soon obtained the TIG welder's certificate. After that, he still has to complete the manual metal arc welding qualification. "The training is going really well. I have nice colleagues here who help me and with whom I can also have a chat and a laugh during the break," Hussein Almohammad relayed happily. Once he has mastered all the welding passes, the main goal is to finally get a job.
"Many refugees who have obtained their welding passes with us have already gained professional experience in this field in their home countries. But without the internationally recognised and standardised examinations, they cannot find work as welders," explained Axel Börnert, Head of Marketing at SLV Halle GmbH. Welcome counsellor Waseem Aleed has been working with the SLV for over one and a half years for this reason. "There is a great deal of interest on the part refugees in a welding qualification and a career perspective in this industry. The B1 language course proves an obstacle for many, but it is a condition for any kind of qualification," Waseem Aleed explained. The original idea was therefore to create a group offer. The group was supposed to attend welding training sessions four days a week and a language course one day a week. Unfortunately, this was not possible at the time due to the different integration courses at the various educational providers that the planned participants attended. Axel Börnert remarked, "There is a great demand in the market for welding specialists. We have a large number of companies and temporary workers who approach us and request qualified specialists. For this reason, we are very pleased about our cooperation with Fachkraft im Fokus. The demand can be partly covered by foreign qualified specialists. However, sometimes the language deficits prevent us from being able to react more quickly for the labour market and, simultaneously, also contribute towards integration." However, Axel Börnert also emphasised in our conversation that it is important for the refugees to learn German. Particularly in the technical tuition that forms part of the apprenticeship, it is not possible to learn without the corresponding language skills. But he also emphasises how many of them master the lessons despite their language deficits. "For one thing, our educators are there to help anyone if they have any questions. On the other hand, I see how the refugees here improve their German every day in technical and colloquial language, in conversation with colleagues, in everyday work," he explained.
Ali Deeb, a young Syrian, also told me how he is getting better and better at German every day: "I am here with German colleagues. I learn better here. And if there is something I don't understand, my colleagues speak to me more slowly.” Ali Deeb was 22 years old. One of his friends worked as a welder for a large company. He also wanted to do that. In August 2016, he turned to Waseem Aleed, who supported him on his way from that point onwards, whether in talks with the job centre or later when he started a job. "Ali was originally pencilled in as a participant for the planned group training. Due to the fact this was not carried out, we had to apply for his qualification again individually. The start of the qualification training was thus delayed. Now I am happy that he has already made it this far," Waseem Aleed explained. Ali Deeb has been undergoing his training at SLV Halle GmbH since August. If everything goes to plan, he will have completed it next spring and can start job applications armed with welding certification in TIG, manual arc welding and flame cutting. "Without Waseem, none of this would have been possible. I would have had to stay at home. I am so happy. He helped me a lot," he is grateful and looks forward to his future career.
Language and speaking is important for making contact with other people and, thus, participating in social life. For someone who does not speak German, this is a crucial building block in becoming integrated. But that is, in the truest sense of the word, easy to say, or not, as the phrase suggests.
Baseel Kamol jokes with a customer while giving him mineral water. That would not have been possible a few months ago, as he didn't speak a word of German. The 35-year-old came to Germany from Syria in September 2015 and moved to Halle in August 2016. He sought support from welcome counsellor Waseem Aleed, because Baseel Kamol wanted to settle down and integrate quickly. "When Baseel came to me in October 2016, he barely spoke any German and lacked the confidence to use the foreign language. Baseel wanted to change that, but needed support," says Waseem Aleed, describing the initial difficulties.
Baseel Kamol enrolled on a B1 language course. At the same time, Waseem Aleed began looking for possible employers and met Daniel Bechstedt at Stadtwerke Halle: "As a large company and employer in Halle and the surrounding area, we are aware of our social responsibility. For this reason, we launched the project "Perspective. Training. Future.” The goal of the project is to give young people, who face mediation barriers, such as poor school-leaving qualifications, discontinued apprenticeships, or refugees, the opportunity to procure an apprenticeship or job at Stadtwerke Halle, in the best case scenario. "In this way, we give people who fail to make through the usual application filter a second chance, for instance, because of grades that were not so good or, as in the case of Mr Kamol, because of his migration background. They can prove themselves in an internship with us and, in the best case, get an apprenticeship or an employment contract," the social education worker explained. "Even though Baseel Kamol does not really match the target group in terms of his age, we were looking for a way to give him a chance to find his way professionally.”
At Maya Mare, a company owned by Stadtwerke Halle, the two of them identified suitable opportunities for the young Syrian man. In addition to the bathing area and sauna facilities, Maya Mare also has a fitness studio - the Viva mare. Due to the fact that Baseel Kamol worked as a fitness trainer in Syria, he was able to convince the interviewer he was the right man for the job despite his language difficulties. After his B1 language course, he completed a 4-week internship in May this year. "The cooperation with "Fachkraft im Fokus" and Mr Aleed to date has been really good. Mr Kamol was perfectly prepared. All organisational issues, for instance, with the Job Centre are handled by Mr Aleed. He is always a contact person for us and Mr Kamol," Daniel Bechstedt said.
Now Baseel Kamol is forced to overcome his shyness in speaking German, because he is the first point of contact at the gym. At the reception he greets the guests, chats with them during the training breaks, or prepares protein shakes for them. "Baseel is very well integrated in the team. All his colleagues and also our guests in the gym support him in improving his German. He also always has his dictionary with him," Carsten Voigt said, team leader at the gym, delighted with his development. Baseel Kamol has finally arrived. "The work is important to feel at home here. When I drive to work, I look forward to seeing my colleagues. The team is like a family to me. I am hopeful.”
The next step is a possible part-time job at Maya Mare. But Baseel Kamol has even more plans for the future. In the best case, he will start his qualification as a fitness trainer, and will, of course, also complete the B2 language course in order to be able to stay at Maya Mare in the long term. "There are still many things we would like to achieve together for Baseel. The goal is just as important as the journey there. My task is to provide him with the best support, whether it’s with the authorities or Maya Mare," Waseem Aleed said.
"Grüß dich" [engl. "Greetings"] was one of the first words Baseel Kamol learned in the gym. There will be many more to come.
Do you know the story of the frogs in the milk pot by the Greek author Aesop? Two frogs jumped into a pail of milk and thought they would never get out alive. But one frog kept swimming until the milk became butter and it was then able to jump out of the pail. The frog believed in himself and stuck to his goal even when it seemed hopeless.
Why are we telling you this story, you may ask? Because it fittingly describes the last months of Mysoun Alyakoub. The Syrian woman fled to Germany alone with her two children in 2015. Her husband could only join them months later. Both of them believe it is important to integrate right from the start. They attended integration and language courses, the children went to school and kindergarten. Through KAUSA, they were able to find counselling from Welcome Counsellor Lisa Stoye in June 2017 to get support in finding a job in Dessau. "I was still in my B2 language course at the time, but I wanted to start planning early," recalls Mysoun Alyakoub. In collaboration with Lisa Stoye, a skills profile was drawn up, and initial ideas for placement perspectives were discussed. "Ms Alyakoub is a qualified teacher with professional experience. Therefore, there were two approaches for us, one was a short-term plan in project work or as an office assistant. In the long run, however, she wanted a position as a lecturer in her field of philosophy at university. We both knew that a long and difficult process awaited us. Of course, we had no idea how difficult it would really be," the Welcome counsellor said.
The translation of the certificates took an unusually long time. Mysoun Alyakoub was unable to submit her application for recognition of her studies in literary studies and philosophy until the end of 2018. She subsequently completed a C1 language course. In further conversations with Lisa Stoye, it gradually crystallised that Mysoun Alyakoub aspired to work with children "when Ms Alyakoub talked about her experiences as a teacher and educator, her eyes shone and she seemed emotional," Lisa Stoye said. Her goal was clear, she began striving to be integrated as an educator.
Intensive networking began. Lisa Stoye exchanged information with her colleagues, researched qualification offers, asked about them, used events, such as the development forum of the lead projects, to discuss cases, with the discouraging result that no qualification or lateral entry would come into question, despite the lengthy process of obtaining corresponding proof of her employment in Syria. There was also only a negative forecast from the state education authority, as literary studies and philosophy do not form part of the German curriculum. Despite the setbacks, Mysoun Alyakoub stuck to her desire and strove to train as an educator.
At one event, Lisa Stoye met Franziska Frisch, a project manager at AWO SPI GmbH in Dessau, and described the case to her. The initial idea of an internship in preparation for an apprenticeship turned into a fixed-term position until June 2020. "The fact that Ms Alyakoub started in our team was a mixture of necessity, coincidence and creativity. There were personnel changes in our team. Ms Alyakoub needed 600 hours of practical pedagogical work as an entry requirement to start the training," Franziska Frisch relayed. Since 1 April, Mysoun Alyakoub has been working in the project “Daycare entry: building bridges in early education” and “Starke Netzwerke: Elternbegleitung für geflüchtete Familien.“ (“Strong Networks: Parental Support for Refugee Families.") The target group of the projects are migrants and their families. Many do not speak German and have different cultural expectations of early childhood education. "My task is to work on-site as a linguistic mediator. Translating notices, giving families the opportunity to talk to the teachers. On the other hand, I want to alleviate families' concerns that nursery school in Germany means discovering and opening up the world only through play. In Syria, nursery school means learning from the very beginning," explains Mysoun Alyakoub. She is now in various institutions in Dessau every day and supports the educators in the nursery school or after-school care centres.
"Mrs Alyakoub is an asset to any nursery. The providers are overwhelmed by the diverse cultural and linguistic obstacles of foreign parents. Ms Alyakoub not only comes with excellent language skills, but also a great determination to integrate, many years of experience in dealing with children, assertiveness, a willingness to compromise and a very tolerant view of diversity. In Saxony-Anhalt we have an enormous shortage of qualified specialists in the education sector. If we wish to successfully integrate foreign qualified specialists on a larger scale in the future, the economy must become more tolerant, the official system must be overhauled and the option of more lateral entrants must be created. Otherwise, it would be a real pity in terms of the wasted potential of such qualified and committed women (and men) like Ms Alyakoub," says Lisa Stoye, a Welcome counsellor.
Which animal is white, can swim and has a long neck? Mrs Ibrahim was unable to answer this question. But the children in her nursery school group could: “A swan,” they shouted out loud. Mrs Ibrahim comes from Iraq. Since November 2019, she has been working as an educational specialist in a facility in Magdeburg. Language is important to the studied linguist and literary scholar and so her lack of language skills somewhat ate away at her self-confidence.
"What is important is that Mrs Ibrahim does not give up. Mistakes and criticism should always be seen in a positive light. My job is to support her, to encourage her on her way, to make her stick to it," regional advisor for qualified specialists Nataliya Detka explained. Through Caritas, Mrs Ibrahim sought support in her job search in June 2019. "I have been taking care of my three children for the last few years. I wanted to go back to work again. After all, I studied and worked in Iraq. A job is so important for me, my self-confidence and my personality." In order to start her professional life, Mrs Ibrahim is taking language courses up to B2 level and is training to become an educational specialist.
“How do I make an application? Where and how do I find a job? That was difficult for me. So I sought support," Ms Ibrahim recalls. Together with Nataliya Detka, they updated her cover letter and CV and searched the Internet for job vacancies. More than 20 applications were sent out. The first ones were unsuccessful, but then an invitation to a job interview followed. "The head of the centre was very happy to have received my application. We had a very nice interview and laughed a lot. I was surprised that she wanted to appoint me immediately," Mrs Ibrahim recalls. The young woman didn't dare to do that. But after a two-week internship, she is now permanently employed at the children's facility. Mrs Ibrahim is ambitious and holds herself to high standards. "I love to sing and would like to sing "Pitsch, patsch, Pinguin" or "Häschen in der Grube" with the children." But she continues to practise diligently every day. The children are welcome to correct her. And so things improve for her day by day. "Mrs Ibrahim should take a step back and take a detached view every now and then. What have I accomplished so far? Because that is already a great deal and she can be proud of herself," is the advice from regional advisor Nataliya Detka. She will continue to counsel Mrs Ibrahim on her journey. "I am very grateful for Ms Detka's support. I would not have been able to find the job that I so enjoy without her. And she gives me so much encouragement. Thank you ever so much.”
The Edner family was not actually scheduled to return to Saxony-Anhalt until the end of this year. With the support of the Fachkraft im Fokus team and the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt, the family of three was already able to move in May and can now spend Christmas relaxing in their new home.
Fourteen years ago, Tina and Karsten Edner moved to Freiburg im Breisgau, 700 kilometres away. "We are both from a village near Köthen. My husband had just finished his apprenticeship, but couldn't find an adequate job in our home state, and I couldn't find an apprenticeship after completing my vocational baccalaureate diploma. Like many others, we were looking for places that offered job prospects in Former East Germany," Tina Edner recalls. Her husband had no problem finding a job as a specialist in glass and building cleaning, because this profession hardly exists in Baden-Württemberg. Tina Edner underwent an apprenticeship as an educator and quickly found a job. The two of them built up a new existence in the Breisgau area, enjoyed the trips to the mountains around Freiburg and had many friends, not only in the neighbourhood.
But the homeland of Saxony-Anhalt was always in their minds, and not only during the visits to Köthen. Then, when their son was born in June 2018, the desire to return home grew. One reason for this was the poor childcare situation in Freiburg. "The opening hours of the nursery schools, as well as the costs for childcare made it impossible for me as a mother to have a job, let alone a full-time job." Another important reason was family. "Grandparents should be part of our child's everyday life. But if you have to drive at least seven hours to see each other, that's not possible."
In February 2019, they were once again on a family visit in Köthen. A week after the holiday, the decision to return to Saxony-Anhalt had been made. She talked to her sister about her plans. She gave her the tip to contact the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt. Tina Edner contacted Kerstin Mogdans from the WelcomeCenter Saxony-Anhalt. "We supported the Edner family in many ways. On the one hand, we referred them to Ms Schellhas from the Counselling for Qualified Specialists Centre to obtain support in finding a job. On the other hand, they received information from us about the Day-Care-Centre Portal to find a kindergarten place in Magdeburg, as well as about the regional housing market," Kerstin Mogdans explained.
Tina and Karsten Edner went about their return step by step. Firstly, they both had to find a job, then the rest followed. Regional advisor Cindy Schellhas helped them get an overview of the jobs on offer. "From a distance, it is incredibly difficult to see where a suitable employer is located, as well as whether it is a recruitment agency. Ms Schellhas helped us a lot with this and also provided us with job vacancies. She was a great support, especially for my husband. The last job interview was many years ago. In a telephone interview, she practised a job interview with him.” Karsten Edner got tips on what he needs to prepare for and what to watch out for in an interview. At the beginning of April, the family spent a week in Magdeburg, successfully completing job interviews, looking at flats and children's facilities. Just eight weeks later, they moved to their new old home town.
Through Cindy Schellhas' job offers, they have now both found jobs they enjoy. "I feel very much at ease. Working as a nursery school teacher is so varied, enriching, but also exhausting and actually cannot be described succinctly. But I love my job. I'm also very lucky that my son also has his nursery school place here and is also completely happy." In everyday life, the family is no longer far away. Tina Edner's sister lives just five minutes around the corner and the grandparents are always there" when appointments are pending or our son is sick. The ten statutory sick days are quickly used up if you have a small child. As professionals, having the support of grandparents is worth a lot."
Tina and Karsten Edner are happy to have taken the step back here, even if the decision constituted" an insane balancing act. It took time to build up a life in rural Baden, and to settle in. Fourteen years have left their mark. We miss our local friends and the mountains around Freiburg. In order to continue settling in Magdeburg, the family is glad that there is the "Forum für Zu(rück)gezogene” (Forum for people moving here/returning here) of the state initiative Fachkraft im Fokus. "We attended the event in November. It was good to exchange views with others. We have set up a WhatsApp group to arrange future meet-ups. We will also be attending the next forum.”
Anas Darraj from Syria has had an employment contract with Mercateo AG in Köthen since 15 May because the employer, Fachkraft im Fokus, the Dessau-Roßlau Job Centre and Jobbrücke PLUS have been working together so thoroughly and providing him with support.
Good interaction between different parties with the same goal is important to achieve it. The prerequisite for this is open communication and good cooperation between the partners involved. Anas Darraj from Syria has had an employment contract with Mercateo AG in Köthen since 15 May because the employer, Fachkraft im Fokus, the Dessau-Roßlau Job Centre and Jobbrücke PLUS have been working together so thoroughly and providing him with support.
Anas Darraj came to Dessau from Damascus in November 2014. He came equipped with a Bachelor's degree in Economics and initial work experience as an accountant. However, knowledge of German legal forms and good communication skills are required to work as an accountant in Germany. Having arrived in Dessau, he quickly sought help from the Job Centre to overcome this obstacle and others. The young Syrian man is partaking in an integration course, as well as a B2 language course. "Learning for life is important to face challenges and new living conditions or to advance professionally," is Anas Darraj's motivation. New application documents are prepared in a job application coaching session at an educational institution in Dessau. With these prerequisites in mind, Anas Darraj turned to the Jobbrücke PLUS. The project, with the goal of integrating asylum seekers and refugees into work or training, ensures that, as a well-qualified and professionally educated refugee, he is placed with the Fachkraft im Fokus organisation.
"Mr Darraj was open-minded and eager to be rapidly integrated into the employment market from the very beginning. Despite his good level of education, he was always eager to build upon his skills," says Lisa Stoye, Welcome Counsellor of Fachkraft im Fokus in Dessau. The Dessau-Roßlau Job Centre and Fachkraft im Fokus closely collaborated and researched suitable job offers for him as an assistant or accountant in the region in parallel.
In September 2016, Anas Darraj applied for a job position advertised as an accounting employee at Mercateo AG in Köthen, Europe's leading B2B procurement platform with over 400 employees in 13 countries. He was invited to a job interview. The interview went well. However, in order to work as an accountant here in Germany, he requires knowledge of the SAP accounting programme. After a consultation with the Dessau-Roßlau Job Centre, a six-week trial period working in accounting was arranged for him. Lisa Stoye and the Dessau-Roßlau Job Centre clarified all the necessary questions that apply to a SAP training course. Anas Darraj completed the course with distinction. "After the trial employment period, it is always important to sit down with the potential employer, take stock and jointly explore and plan further possible steps. Our support for refugees as well as employers is important to clarify possible problems or, as in the case of Mr Darraj, to find the best way forward," is how Lisa Stoye explained one of her tasks as a Welcome counsellor. In collaboration with the Dessau-Roßlau Job Centre and following further discussions, this was found to be the best way forward for Anas Darraj. "The support offered by Fachkraft im Fokus helped me a lot, whether it was finding the necessary qualifications, consulting with the job centre or organisational questions with potential employers," Anas Darraj said looking back. Due to the fact he was still lacking crucial knowledge in accounting and German tax law, Lisa Stoye then contacted the IHK (Chamber of Industry and Commerce) Education Centre. She prepared an educational plan for him, which was confirmed by the Dessau-Roßlau Job Centre. "Mr Darraj already came equipped with a degree and work experience. He has been given the opportunity to take part in various qualifications tailored to his needs and has completed them very well. With his part-time contract and the in-service training financed by the Job Centre, together, we have managed to integrate him into the employment market," said a delighted Sven Thiemann from the Job Centre Dessau-Roßlau.
Anas Darraj now works three days a week at Mercateo AG and on the other two days, he attends further training as a financial accountant at the IHK Education Centre Dessau. Even though he has a lot of knowledge of the field and is highly motivated, Mercateo has to bundle capacities to train him and to teach him structures, the legislation or working methods in a new company in a different culture. Anas Darraj works his way through different areas in a rotation system so that specialised qualified specialists assist him with the transfer of knowledge. "We are going down this path because we believe that he shows great promise. We receive a lot of applications as a major employer in the region. Mr Darraj is a great role model, taking into account his excellent qualifications and, above all, his high levels of motivation. You notice every day how much he tries to make progress, gain experience and is committed to his job with us. You can sense how much he identifies with our company and his tasks after such a short period of time," said Nanett Zimmermann, HR Manager at Mercateo, highlighting the good prerequisites he brings and the commitment of Anas Darraj.
"I am so happy that I got this opportunity at Mercateo. I really enjoy my work. The open corporate culture goes a long way towards ensuring that I have already settled in here so well and I receive a lot of support to improve every day," says Anas Darraj, viewing the future very optimistically.
The Dessau-Roßlau Job Centre, Jobbrücke PLUS, Fachkraft im Fokus and the young Syrian man continue to be in contact in order to achieve the goal of full-time employment and, thus, long-term prospects. "The cooperation between the Dessau-Roßlau Job Centre and us was good right from the start, and was a decisive factor in Mr Darraj now having a foot in the door at Mercateo", Lisa Stoye summarises.
"I am so grateful for the opportunities and support I have already received. Firstly, that I have found such a great and understanding employer in Elektro Innovations-Team GbR. But also, on the other hand, for the great and versatile support of Fachkraft im Fokus. Whether it works out with my studies or I continue to work here, I have found my way in Germany thanks to Fachkraft im Fokus," says Azad Karjoul, feeling optimistic about the future. The goal-oriented Syrian man is planning his next career step. Azad Karjoul wanted to start his Master's degree in Medical Technology in the winter semester of 2018/19. Two years prior, he had to face the seemingly insurmountable hurdle of finding a job in his new home town of Stendal, despite good language skills, a degree and relevant work experience.
"It is not always easy to make companies receptive to our target group. Many companies shy away from hiring a refugee because of uncertainties regarding the legal and regulatory framework, but also due to socio-cultural concerns. Our task is to support companies with their questions and problems, whether it’s with the new employee or the authorities, through our intensive guidance. This cooperation was decisive for Elektro Innovations-Team GbR to give Mr Karjoul a chance," the welcome counsellor Felix Rüge explained. Felix Rüge got to know the company through a recommendation from the Altmark Innovation and Start-up Centre. At the beginning, there was some unease concerning the cultural differences when hiring a refugee. Felix Rüge took the time to explain the work of the Welcome Counselling team, to solve concerns and to open doors: five appointments in two months. "It was mainly a matter of persuasion. I had to build up trust," he recalled. The Elektro Innovations-Team GbR gave Azad Karjoul a chance. In December 2016, the young Syrian man received a two-year contract. From then on, Felix Rüge became a regular at the company. "That is what is special about the Welcome Counselling. Our work does not stop when our clients have found a job," Felix Rüge explained. It is about being there when integration problems arise in the company, or when the refugee has concerns. Contrary to all initial concerns, everything is going well. The company is pleased with its new employee. Instead of facing more problems, Azad Karjoul can continue to plan his future. With the support of the regional advisor Jana Worreschk, he successfully completed the C1 language course through the further education funding programme of the state of Saxony-Anhalt WEITERBILDUNG DIREKT. "Due to my professional experience in Syria in the field of medical technology, despite my great job at Elektro Innovations-Team GbR, my desire to study again became stronger and stronger," says Azad Karjoul. The Stendal-based company did not want to place any obstacles in his way: "We had reservations before we met Mr Karjoul. Now we are sad to let go of a good employee. But we don't want to get in the way of his career aspirations. But he can return to us at any time," Mr Müller, partner of Elektro Innovations-Team GbR, said, leaving the possibility of a return to the company open for him.