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Event Report: Social Inclusion and Labour Market Integration of Refugees

Social Inclusion and Labour Market Integration of Refugees is one of the pressing issues in the migration crisis and of great importance for Germany, which has taken in by far the highest number of refugees within the EU. On 24 April 2017, the European Movement International therefore took the Migration Event Series to the national level – to Berlin. The event was jointly organised with the European Movement Germany and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK).

The around 40 guests were welcomed by Günter Lambertz, Head of the Brussels Representation of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) as well as Board Member of the European Movement Germany. For Lambertz, the three main challenges for successful integration are a lack of qualifications, language barriers and bureaucratic hurdles.

Karoline Münz, deputy Secretary General of the European Movement Germany opened the Panel and gave the floor to Basheer Alzalaan. The Syrian English teacher fled Syria via the Western Balkans route two and a half years ago. In Germany he got in touch with CARE Germany, where he began to work voluntarily under the “Bundesfreiwilligendienst” – one of the first asylum seekers to apply for this scheme. Alzalaan has since been offered a permanent position in the Kiwi project at CARE. Alzalaan, who impressed the audience with his German language skills, confirmed that language is key for successful integration.

Enrico Firl, Restaurantmanager at the KaDeWe Wintergarden-Restaurant, Le Buffet Restaurant&Café Ltd. and Member of the NETWORK Businesses Integrate Refugees of the DIHK, represented the perspective of a business looking for personnel. From his experience, challenges predominantly arise from cultural differences such as gender roles and issues with the famous “German Pünktlichkeit”. While he positively highlighted the flexibility and commitment in the work of refugees, Firl said that many of the mostly male applicants bring false expectations to the job.

Integration is a challenge to be addressed by the whole of society, said Thiemo Fojkar, Chief Executive of the Internationaler Bund and Board Member of the European Movement Germany. For him it is important to ensure that the legislative framework is adjusted to facilitate integration.

With a summary of initiatives on a European level, Elisabeth Kotthaus, Deputy Head of the Political Department at the Representation of the European Commission in Berlin, showed that the EU aims to facilitate such framework. The Commission, which does not have legislative competences in the area of integration, has come up with an action plan on integration last year and regularly gives policy recommendations to the EU Member States. Further, it promotes the exchange of good practices in order to facilitate cooperation between Member States.

What will be the state of play in three years from now? This was the final question that Karoline Münz directed to all panelists. The general feeling was one characterised by cautious optimism but also hope that the root causes of migration can be tackled while at the same time creating a pluralistic and open society which can be seen as the prerequisite for the successful integration of refugees in the future.

Basheer Alzalaan who had the last word, said he was very content with his current position and that he hopes that facing the challenges which migration poses with the whole of society will help build a sense of togetherness rather than creating further divides.


Take a look at further photos from the event:



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