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BMW Group supports 500 refugees with social and professional integration

Culture, language, work: Understanding Germany in all its complexity is the aim of the BMW Group refugee initiative “WORK HERE!” The nine-week practical work programme to help qualified refugees with social and professional integration organised in conjunction with the Federal Employment Agency Munich and the Jobcenter Munich got underway on 16 November 2015. The project … Continued

Culture, language, work: Understanding Germany in all its complexity is the aim of the BMW Group refugee initiative “WORK HERE!” The nine-week practical work programme to help qualified refugees with social and professional integration organised in conjunction with the Federal Employment Agency Munich and the Jobcenter Munich got underway on 16 November 2015. The project started out with 40 refugees at the Munich location and will be expanded to other BMW sites in 2016. The BMW Group is also expanding its six-month programme of entry qualification for production mechanics. An additional 20 places in Munich will be offered to refugees under the age of 25 from January 2016, while the number of places will also be increased at other BMW Group locations. The goal is for around 500 refugees to participate in practical work training and entry qualification.

Intercultural training programme

The BMW Group’s “WORK HERE!” training programme teaches skills that will give refugees better prospects in Germany and help them start a new life. The programme comprises two practice-based project phases: Throughout the three-week orientation phase and subsequent six-week practical training, participants are mentored by BMW Group employees. For up to six hours a day, refugees learn about work processes in different departments, including development, sales and marketing, human resources, finance, production and IT. This is supplemented by a daily language class and a specially-developed training programme to teach essential intercultural and social skills.

Participants are also provided with lunch and are trained according to their individual needs, such as attending computer courses. At the end of the nine weeks, each participant receives a certificate documenting the qualifications gained.

Milagros Caiña-Andree, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Human Resources: “It is only natural for us to help integrate people who were forced to leave their home and come here. People from more than 100 different countries work together very successfully every day at the BMW Group in Germany alone. For us, integrating people from different cultures is something we do every day, and an important concern that we promote both inside and outside the company. The same applies to solid vocational and professional training, which is one of the cornerstones of our success. I am particularly happy that we are able to put several of our core competences to use to offer people better prospects.”

Expansion to other locations with a total of 500 participants

In early 2016, the programme will be expanded to other BMW plant sites and branches across Germany. Four sessions per location per year are currently planned. By the end of 2016, the initiative will therefore have supported the social and professional integration of around 500 refugees in total.

Chairman of the General Works Council of BMW AG Manfred Schoch explained: “Cooperation and collegiality between different nationalities and cultures is a matter of course for our employees. I am delighted to see that helping others is also natural for many of them. I am proud that so many of our employees have committed themselves as mentors and, on top of their job, are helping create prospects for those who had none and who left their homes for that reason.”

Expansion of the entry qualification programme

In addition to practical work training, the BMW Group is also enabling refugees under the age of 25 to participate in a six-month programme to earn a vocational entry qualification (EQ). Starting in January 2016, the programme for commercial and technical apprenticeships will be expanded at the Munich location, and an additional trainer assigned. This means that up to 40 young people without an apprenticeship – instead of 18 previously – will be able to earn an entry qualification at the Munich location next year. The number of places will also be increased at other BMW Group sites. EQ participants with the necessary technical and personal aptitude will then have the opportunity to apply for a vocational training course. The aim of the entry qualification – which was developed by businesses and is supported by the Federal Employment Agency – is to provide the technical foundation necessary to qualify for an apprenticeship.

Dr Markus Schmitz, CEO, Regional Directorate Bavaria Federal Employment Agency (GE), confirmed: “A key element of social participation is professional integration into our world of work. That is why it is so important to integrate displaced people with previous professional experience who are likely to remain in the country into training and labour markets as quickly as possible. Many refugees arrive here without their diplomas and are unable to document their professional skills on paper. It is crucial that these people are able to demonstrate their skills in conditions that are as close to reality as possible. We believe that the combination of learning the language, skill assessment, qualification and all-round support is the key to success. All of these components come together in the “WORK HERE!” project. We are particularly delighted to realise a project like this with the BMW Group. This approach may not create the specialists of tomorrow, but perhaps those of the near future. It is a long process that requires staying power.”

Anette Farrenkopf, CEO of the Jobcenter in Munich: “Opportunities for refugees are being created by courageous employers willing to chart new territory. The “WORK HERE!” project is a tremendous opportunity for many refugees who are Jobcenter clients. They can gain professional experience, test themselves and receive a certificate for the professional skills they already have – which is a huge advantage when looking for a job. We hope that other employers follow the BMW Group’s example and open their doors to refugees.”

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