Website seeks to match migrants with employers in Germany
Berlin - A start-up company in Berlin is trying to help integrate the flood of migrants into the German workforce with a tailor-made online job market for new arrivals.
The website MigrantHire.com was founded by a mix of Germans and migrants and operates with a staff of five volunteers out of a shared work space in a former industrial building in Berlin’s trendy Kreuzberg district.
More than 8,000 migrants have registered on the website — a fraction of the 890,000 asylum seekers who arrived in Germany in 2015 but a sign that some are serious about finding employment.
The website helps migrants create résumés that match German standards, then connects the applicants to German companies. It is free for the migrants and relies on donations and volunteers.
MigrantHire co-founder Hussein Shaker channelled his own experience trying to find work as a migrant into helping others. Back in the Syrian city of Aleppo, he studied information technology (IT) but when he arrived in Germany he could not find work in the IT sector. Instead he ended up working in a call centre while learning German.
When he was approached with the idea of MigrantHire by Remi Mekki, a Norwegian entrepreneur living in Berlin, he quit his job and threw himself into the project.
On a normal workday he and others help migrants write résumés, answer questions about German employment law and help migrants apply for jobs that companies have posted on the website.
“It is not easy,” he says about the thousands of migrants looking for jobs. “The migrants had to leave everything behind but I think that, in the end… it will all work out.”
For Syrian migrant Naji Negmah, it already has. After a year spent learning German, Negmah was put in contact by MigrantHire with a security company in Berlin. After an interview, the 24-year-old from Damascus, who arrived in 2014, was given a ten-day training course, then started working as a security guard at an asylum-seekers home in Berlin.
Now he works full time on the same contract as all the other staff.
Negmah is greeted by a group of children as he enters the four-storey former office building that houses about 200 asylum seekers, mostly from Syria but also Afghanistan and Iraq. He speaks Arabic to the children and they think of him as one of their own.
“When I came here, I knew I wanted get a job that let me help other migrants,” he said in fluent German. “This job lets me do that.”
At the security company, recent migrants make up about 25% of the guards.
Company owner Seyed Ali Khatoun Abadi, who arrived in Germany as a refugee from Iran in 1986, said the recent arrivals are the perfect fit since they can speak to most of the asylum seekers in their own language and they understand the stress and issues facing them.
Not everyone’s had as much luck as Negmah, however. Even with Germany’s national unemployment rate at only 4.1%, the government says 400,000 asylum seekers are still looking for work.
A study published by the Federal Department for Migration and Refugees stated that only 13% of asylum seekers find work in the first two years after arriving in Germany. That figure increases to 22% in the third year and 31% in the fourth year.
Negmah is grateful to the website.
“I like this work,” he said. “I want to continue working as a security guard.”
(The Associated Press)