Over 1,000 refugees attended the second contact fair “Marktplatz der Begegnungen” on February 16, 2016, in the Chamber of Commerce to enquire about Hamburg’s labour market. Around 50 companies including Aurubis, Edeka, Fielmann and Vattenfall accepted the invitation by the Chamber of Commerce and Crafts, the Ministry of Social Affairs, Family and Integration, the Federal Employment Center, Jobcenter Hamburg as well as UVNord. All the invited companies presented internships, training places or job offers.
Language skills are fundamental
Most visitors enquired about basic issues such as the types of professions, entry opportunities offered and job requirements. Many voluntary and professional helpers are supporting the refugees. Christin Riethmüller, a retraining co-ordinator at the Institute of Vocational Studies (IBB), brought several people along to the fair. She said: “We are looking after about 160 asylum seekers. Around 30 per cent of them have degrees. Many have a good school education and would like to study at third level. But there are many untrained people as well who have just completed literacy courses.” German courses are always on the agenda as well. And the fair can help the refugees to make interesting contacts.
This prompted Amer Alnqib, 37, who used to work in “commercial and marketing services” in his native Syria, to attend the fair. In Germany, such a position requires very good German-language skills.” Alnqib said: “It’s communication, I know. But I learn quickly.” For the moment, he is trying to understand how Hamburg’s economy works until he obtains these skills.
Hamburg’s firms actively eyeing refugees
Jochen Barnstedt, Head of Recruitment at DESY, is try to get an overview of refugees. He noted: “I am trying to determine the level of training we can expect in order to draft more specific offers.” Technical internships can be realized quite quickly and accompanying training courses can also be organized.
Vartan Aviation Group (VPS), a supplier to the aircraft industry is already a step further. Kerstin Messal, HR Manager at VPS, said: “We are looking for interns in every sector. Anybody with manual skills is welcome.” While good English and German language skills are advantageous, she noted: “We have already had good experiences with two Ghanaians who learnt the language during their internships and whom we have already hired on an open-ended basis.”
René Hantel, HR Manager at Ryf Coiffeur GmbH, has encountered unexpected problems during his search for personnel. He noted: “Syrian hairdressers are unable to do any ladies’ hairstyles. That is simply not part of their craft.” The company is now in contact with the Chamber of Crafts Hamburg to organise such training courses, as there is keen interest in trained personnel. Hantel pointed to the “huge personnel shortages in hairdressing”.
And his chances of finding suitable candidates at the contact fair are not bad. Some 500 attended the first event last November and 430 were invited to further talks. A third fair is currently being planned and those who were unlucky this time can attend once again.