December 11, 2016

Website seeks to match migrants with employers in Germany

Refugees show their skills in metal processing works at a workshop for refugees organised by German industrial group Siemens in Berlin, Germany. (Reuters)

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)

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