Migrants in Germany often find it very hard to get jobs |Photo: Imago/Rainer Weisflog
Migrants in Germany often find it very hard to get jobs |Photo: Imago/Rainer Weisflog

In the north German town of Rendsburg, a number of young asylum seekers are being given an unusual kind of opportunity. In just over a month, they will have the chance to sit down with someone who could change their life in just 15 minutes.

It’s called job-speed-dating and is something like matchmaking, though not between hopeful singles, but between employers and young people - in this case asylum seekers - looking for apprenticeships. Similar events have been tried elsewhere in Germany, but this is a first for Rendsburg, the capital of the region that takes in the northern city of Kiel on the Baltic coast. 

There are about 5,600 refugees and asylum seekers in the region, most of them from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. It's estimated that half of them are under 30 years old. Yet many have found it difficult or impossible to get a foothold in the German job market, says Said Naji from the Rendsburg regional council.

The job-speed-dating event will offer young people who are seeking asylum or have been granted asylum or refugee status a chance to jump at least some of the barriers to employment and training in the country. Those who take part have to have been in the region for two to four years. Each asylum seeker will first submit a short application to help the organizers match them with potential employers. On the day, they will get a 15-minute "date" with an employer which could lead to an offer on the spot or further contact between the two.

Unlike a formal interview, which requires an application and a CV, the speed-dating event will open up the field to those with little or no experience in this process. "This is a major advantage, because everyone has the same opportunity to present themselves," says Naji. While it's recommended to bring a CV, those who don't have one will not be sent away, he says.

Apprenticeships for young refugees

The concept for the speed-dating event was developed together with representatives from the local business sector, vocational and independent training colleges, job centers and employment agencies. It will happen over two days at the end of April and, Naji hopes, will draw as many as 150 young refugees. "In the end, the number doesn't really matter. What matters is how many people are employed when the event is over."

600 refugees in the district are already in regular employment and 120 are in vocational training. Michael Wolf, who has so far been the lead organizer on the project, expects to see both those figures increasing. "We are doing everything so that young refugees get into apprenticeships," Wolf says.

Every successful meeting at the speed-dating day could lead to a vocational training place in a sector such as financial services, trades, health or dentistry. Applicants need to have at least an intermediate (B1) level of competence in German and to be open to a challenge.


More articles