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How can Bertelsmann help to integrate young, motivated refugees into the regional labor market? This topical question has sparked the "BE Welcome" project, which was launched in Gütersloh in early April. Eight young men and three women from Syria are currently enrolled in the training program, which lasts a maximum of one year and is designed and supervised by the Bertelsmann Corporate Education department. Its project partner is the Gütersloh Job Center.
"With 'BE Welcome', Bertelsmann meets its corporate responsibility by giving refugees prospects here in Gütersloh," says Immanuel Hermreck, CHRO at Bertelsmann. "The important thing for us is that the project takes a sustainable approach. Thanks to the intensive support we provide, we hope to be able to integrate as many of these young men and women as possible in an apprenticeship and from there into the labor market."
The "BE Welcome" project is aimed at refugees aged 18 to 25 with the aim of helping them develop career prospects in the dual-training system within a year. The concept is based on the "Du bist deine Zukunft" (You are your future) project, which Bertelsmann Corporate Education has already successfully implemented for seven years. As in "Du bist deine Zukunft," young men and women with a variety of biographies and backgrounds are given a lot of support in the program as they prepare for an apprenticeship with internships and training. "The difference with ‘BE Welcome’ is that the project is explicitly aimed at refugees," explains Anna Terletzki, social worker and project manager of "BE Welcome": "This project is unique in its approach of offering refugees extensive and above all long-term preparation for an apprenticeship."
The idea is to ready participants for an apprenticeship at a company in four phases. In the first three months, the focus is on the acquisition of language skills. At Bertelsmann, participants attend daily language classes. From the beginning, they receive support in the program, but also in everyday life, from Anna Terletzki and Andreas Majewski, a social worker hired specifically for the project. In the second phase, from July, the junior employees complete six-week orientation internships at Bertelsmann companies and other companies in the Gütersloh region. Ideally, one of the placements then leads to a third phase, entry qualification. Here, the participants complete the first year of apprenticeship "on probation": In addition to working in the company, they attend vocational school. If the participant and the company both decide they are right for each other, the actual apprenticeship can start with a contract between the company and the apprentice – and particularly talented apprentices can go straight into their second year of apprenticeship.
After the project launch in April, the Bertelsmann "BE Welcome" program will initially run for a year in cooperation with the Job Center Gütersloh and other regional partners. Rolf Erdsiek, Head of the Job Center, is very pleased about Bertelsmann’s commitment and hopes that more companies will follow suit and give young refugees a chance at an internship or apprenticeship.