Integrating refugees into an enterprise is enriching from many perspectives. However, challenges remain. How, for example, is it possible to overcome language barriers? And how can colleges cooperate with enterprises in a way that the special challenges refugees might face can be managed? How does cooperation between enterprises and institutions actually work? Representatives of craft producing enterprises could discuss those and many more questions together with Mona Hinrichs from the project “Welcoming Pilots” of the regional craftspeople organization Emscher-Lippe-West and the research institute FIAP. Furthermore, two experts in in the field of integrating refugees into work joined this round table to share their expertise: Bomafa Special Valve Solutions from Bochum and the electro provider Wünnemann.

The round table consisted of three workshops: In workshop 1, the two experts shared their knowledge and experiences in cooperating with refugees. Workshop 2 focussed on individual and cultural differences and how to overcome those by building an enterprise-based identity. Workshop 3 covered a more sensitive issue, namely traumatization of refugees. The discussion was quite lively and quickly revealed that language barriers and institutional structures are the main problems.

Cultural differences are not relevant, especially in a multicultural environment like the Ruhrgebiet, the crafts producers said. Individual problems such as traumatization are dealt with by the responsible person in the enterprise who takes care of trainees such as refugees. However, language barriers and institutional structures need to be reformed. One solution for language issues could be informal language classes. Less formal language at colleges would contribute to the refugees’ success in their vocation training as well. Another major issue is Germany’s complicated bureaucracy, which clearly needs to be facilitated, the participants stated and came up with many examples.

All in all, this piloting round table was lively and revealed many interesting facts. The project team of SELMA now seeks to evaluate those first workshops of this round table and apply them to other branches.