1. Where can I learn German?
2. Who can help me find a suitable job?
3. Where can I do my own research?
4. Who do I contact when I wish to undertake vocational training?
5. Who can answer my questions regarding studying?
6. Who can help me with questions about financing, finding accommodation or on part-time jobs?
7. Who else can help?
“Anyone who wants to undergo vocational training or study for a degree must be able to speak German sufficiently well. If you wish to undertake vocational training, you should reach level B2 beforehand, for prospective degree students level C1 is required. To learn German you can attend one or more language courses. Cities or municipalities offer many language courses, therefore it is worth asking the city or municipality in which you live. Adult Education Centres (VHS) also offer language courses. In addition, I recommend free online language courses, such as those found in the “Deutsche Welle” or the “Ankommen” App. At some universities it is also possible to attend language courses at the Language Centre as a guest student. Here as well the rule is: ask!
“When it comes to the question of choosing the right profession, it is best to first visit the career advisors at the employment agencies. Anyone who so wishes can first clarify basic questions about the German education system during this interview. For example, why it is so important in Germany to undergo vocational training or what forms of vocational training are there. Then it is about finding your own way into professional life. Based on your personal strengths and interests, the career advisor will work with you to find out which career options are suitable for you. The next step is to clarify how to achieve this career goal - through vocational training or university studies (More on this in step 3: What is the right path for me?). In order for the career advisers at the employment agencies to be able to take enough time for you, you should make an appointment in advance: by telephone at 0800 4 5555 00 (free of charge), via the Kontaktformular (contact form) or in person on site”.
“Without prior registration you can find more information about vocational training and study opportunities at the Berufsinformationszentren (BiZ) of the local employment agencies. Using their PC workstations, you can not only research the internet, but also write applications. If there are comprehension difficulties, employees on site will assist you.
Information on various professions can also be found on the internet at www.berufsfeld-info.de. The professions are clearly divided into different occupational fields, for example information technology, medicine, tourism or sales.
“The federal employment agencies advise and mediate vocational training and employment. In principle, they can support placements by providing financial support. Further contacts specifically for vocational training occupations are the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK) and the Chambers of Skilled Crafts (HWK). The Chambers of Industry and Commerce are responsible for vocational training occupations in industry and commerce, such as bank clerk or technical product designer. The HWKs, on the other hand, are geared to occupations in the skilled trades, such as carpenter or bricklayer. Both chambers work closely with the employment agencies, but also offer advice themselves. As they are in contact with the training companies, the chambers can mediate between the companies providing both vocational training and the trainees. In addition, the chambers are familiar with support programmes for trainees. To determine which chamber is responsible for your region you can visit each chamber’s website: The Deutsche Industrie- und Handelskammertag (DIHK) for the IHKs and the Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks (ZDH) for the HWKs. Many of the chambers also provide refugees the opportunity to take the “Check.work” test. If you already have professional experience you can use this to demonstrate your knowledge. And for those who do not yet know in which area they would like to work, the test helps them to recognise their own strengths.
In addition, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) established the KAUSA Service Centres in 2013. The KAUSA service centres have also been advising and informing young refugees about vocational training opportunities at 31 locations throughout Germany since 2016. Further information can be found at www.jobstarter.de.”
“The career advisors at the federal employment agencies are also happy to help with questions about studying. Once the degree programme or the university location has been determined, the Central Student Advisory Office or the International Office of the respective university can also help. There, employees can answer questions about courses, admissions or applications. If you have any questions about a specific degree programme, the relevant academic advisor is the right place to go. They can be found at the faculty or department. Contact details for the contact persons can be found on the university's website”.
“Are you looking for an apartment, a part-time job or do you have questions about financing your studies? Then the Student Unions are the right place to go. You can determine which Student Union is responsible for the location of your university by visiting www.studentenwerke.de. After 15 months of tolerated or approved residency, students can apply to the Student Union for BAföG, a government-funded financial aid. The Student Unions also help to find a room in a student residence - usually the cheapest option for students. The Student Unions also offer information on part-time jobs. If you work part-time, you should make sure that your studies do not suffer as a result”.
“The Youth Migration Services of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) are active in various regions. Church institutions such as Caritas are often the responsible bodies. The youth migration services not only support the search for a suitable job, but also help with integration into society or with family difficulties. The aim of the Youth Migration Services (JMD) is to provide long-term support for integration in Germany. Their website currently lists 467 youth migration services.
In general I recommend use of not only one contact point, but that you inform yourself about the different options. It is also important to be active yourself. If you have many conversations and make contacts with locals, you’ll create a good basis for your professional future”.