More than 4,000 job-seeking refugees attended a job fair in Berlin Monday, which reportedly also attracted over 200 prospective employers from various fields. The one-day event, held at Estrel Hotel in Berlin’s Neukölln district, was aimed at integrating refugees into the local labor market.
The public and private sectors collaborated to organize the job fair. Christian Henkes, a spokesman for Germany's Federal Employment Agency, told Al Jazeera: “There's big interest on part of the employers that really want to give these people a chance in the country. And there’s also a huge willingness by those people who came here to Germany to find a job.”
From the private sector, large firms such as Marriott — which operates four hotels in Berlin — and smaller companies like Bio Company — a popular chain of organic grocery stores — were present at the job fair. There were also online retailers, supermarket chains, florists, as well as companies from the construction, tourism, security, medicine and information technology industries.
Juliane Hensel, who recruited two Pakistani men as security guards for her company City Schutz — which provides security for several refugee shelters — told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that candidates at the job fair had the necessary language skills. “The people want to work and are greatly motivated, that’s an enormous advantage for our sector,” she added.
The lack of German language skills is still a handicap for many job-seekers. The two Pakistani men hired by Hensel reportedly arrived in Germany a year ago and have spent that time learning the language to help them find work.
Speaking about the employment fair and its potential impact on integration of refugees, Neukölln Mayor Franziska Giffey said: “We have a really good chance of integration because when somebody works, when somebody learns the language, they integrate with the society and will make an effort to be a part of this country. That’s important for social peace,” Al Jazeera reported.
Germany’s population has been aging and the country faces a chronic manpower shortage. If refugees are integrated in the country through jobs, it could be a win-win solution for both sides. Business leaders in the country hope that the newly arrived refugees, many of whom are young and motivated, will fill the gaps in employment, according to AFP.