Integration of refugees
The First Step into German Working Life
Shirwan Salahaldeen is 31 years old, business economist, an IT professional, and speaks four languages. And he's bored stiff. For some months, the Iraqi has been living in a refugee accommodation in the Stuttgart district of Feuerbach. Now he started a six-week internship with the family-owned viastore company, that has been based in Feuerbach for five generations. First he looks over the shoulders of the marketing staff to learn something about data mining and data maintenance. But he will also get to know some other departments. "This really offers a chance to him", says CEO Philipp Hahn-Woernle. "But to us as well." Because his company, like many others, is lacking skilled personnel. "The internship is a good opportunity to get to know each other. If we all behave well, this can well be a long-term cooperation."
"Integrative" is one of viastore's values. The company plans and builds logistics systems in more than 30 countries, and it also develops and implements the corresponding software. "Integrative is not a catch phrase for us, but a part of our DNA, just as international and solid", explains Philipp Hahn-Woernle, who employs approx. 500 staff in Stuttgart, Bietigheim and seven other locations in countries including the USA, China and Russia. He took the initiative very early, when the first refugees arrived at the Bubenhalde refugee accommodation in Feuerbach: he doubled each euro that his employees donated. Many participated, and a total of more than 10,000 euros was raised. "And many donated TV sets, bicycles, warm clothes and toys", Hahn-Woernle remembers.
"But what did we do with all that money?“ smiles Hahn-Woernle. "It is also a part of our DNA that we are responsive." Thus it seemed inappropriate to him just to transfer the money to some bank account. viastore spent the money on laptops, data projectors, monitors, security locks and storage cabinets. Dirk Gehlich, an employee of the viastore development department, started teaching computer courses last winter. "We learn how to boot a computer, where you can click, and how to write texts, including job applications, of course", he explains. The knowledge levels differ significantly, and sometimes you may feel reminded of a language class rather than a computer course. "Many refugees get in touch with a PC for the first time, and thus their respect is considerable", Dirk Gehlich points out. "But some of them have good skills and a certain level of routine with a PC." Some other residents even have very good IT and language skills, including Shirwan Salahaldeen. He handed in his job application for the internship in writing, and in German.