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Step 5: Who will support me if I need help?

Various questions may arise when you are looking for vocational training or a university course. Tim Frerichs, a career advisor at Oldenburg Employment Agency, explains who can answer them.

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German version

Where can I learn German?

A Portrait photo of Tim Frerichs A Portrait photo of Tim Frerichs

Tim Frerichs

“Anyone who wants to do vocational training or start a university course should be able to speak good German. Anyone who would like to do vocational training should achieve Level B2 in advance; prospective students should achieve Level C1.

To learn German, you can attend one or more language courses. Many language courses are offered by cities or municipalities. Therefore, it is worth asking the city or municipality where 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” portal or in the “Ankommen” (Arrival) app.”

Who will help me to find an appropriate job?

„When it comes to finding the right job, you should first contact the career advisors at the employment agencies. Anyone who wants to can begin the interview by clearing up basic questions about the German education system. For example, why it is so important to do vocational training in Germany or what types of training there are.

Then it is all about finding your own way into the world of work. On the basis of your personal strengths and interests, the advisors will work with you to work out what career options are suitable for you. The next step is to clarify how you will achieve this professional goal – via a training programme or via a university course (More about that in Step 3: What is the right path for me?)

Arrange an appointment in advance so that the career advisors at the employment agencies can make enough time for you: call 0800 4 5555 00 (free) or use the Kontaktformular (contact form). In compliance with the coronavirus regulations, the appointments are currently taking place by telephone or digitally by video call.”

Whom should I contact if I want to undertake vocational training?

“The employment agencies provide advice and will help you to find work and vocational training. In principle, they can support placements by providing financial support.

Other contacts specifically for training occupations are the chambers of industry and commerce (IHK) or the chambers of crafts. The chambers of industry and commerce are responsible for training occupations in the area of industry and commerce, for example training to become a bank clerk or a technical product designer. The chambers of crafts, on the other hand, are geared towards skilled trades, for example carpentry or masonry. Both work closely with the employment agencies, but also offer advice themselves. As they are in contact with the training companies, they can mediate between the companies who provide training and the trainees. They are also familiar with the funding programmes for trainees.

You can look up the chambers responsible for your region on the internet: on the website of the Deutschen Industrie- und Handelskammertags (DIHK) (Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce) for the chambers of industry and commerce and of the Zentralverbands des Deutschen Handwerks (ZDH) (German Confederation of Skilled Crafts) for the chambers of crafts. Many chambers of industry and commerce also offer refugees the opportunity to take the check.work test. If you already have professional experience, you can use this to demonstrate your knowledge. And if you do not yet know which area you would like to work in, the test will help you to identify your own strengths.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) also launched the KAUSA service centres in 2013. The more than 20 service centres throughout Germany advise young refugees about training opportunities. You can find further information at jobstarter.de.”

Who will answer my questions about studying?

“Career advisors at the employment agencies can also help with questions about studying. Once the course or the university has been determined, the Central Student Advisory Office or the International Office of the respective university can help you further. There, staff can answer questions about the courses on offer, about admission and about the application process. If you have questions about a specific course, you should contact the relevant student advisor. They can be found at the faculty or the department. You can find contact details for the contact persons on the university’s website.”

Who will help me with questions about financing, finding accommodation or part-time jobs?

“Are you looking for accommodation or a part-time job or do you have questions about financing your studies. The student unions are the right place to go. You can find out which student union is responsible for your university on the map at studentenwerke.de.

After 15 months of tolerated or approved residency, students can make an application to the student union for the state-funded student financial aid BAföG. This is a monthly subsidy that you will receive under specific circumstances – for example if your family cannot provide you with sufficient financial support. You must pay back half of this money after your studies. The other half is a gift. Various foundations and organisations offer scholarships specifically for refugees.

The student unions will also help you to find a room in a hall of residence – generally the cheapest option for students. The student unions can also provide information on part-time jobs. However, anyone who works alongside their studies should ensure, as far as possible, that their studies do not suffer as a result.”

Who else can help?

“The Youth Migration Services of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) are active in various regions. These are often operated by church organisations such as Caritas. The Youth Migration Services will provide assistance with your search for a suitable job and help with your integration into society or with family difficulties. The goal of the Youth Migration Services (JMD) is long-term support with integration in Germany. There are currently 487 Youth Migration Services listed on jugendmigrationsdienste.de.

I generally recommend that you do not make use of just one point of contact, but obtain information in a variety of ways. It is also important to take action yourself. If you have a lot of conversations and make contact with locals, you will create a good basis for your professional future.”