Social Integration through Labor Market Integration
When the flood of refugees reached Germany in the fall of 2015, we wanted to send a positive signal as a company and to welcome the new arrivals to this country. United Internet’s integration measures focused on refugees’ specific requirements at different points in time, and were adapted repeatedly over recent years in line with this. From the fall of 2015 to early 2020, we supported three initiatives – “1&1 Welcome,” “1&1 Language,” and “1&1 Fit for Job” – under the overarching title of “1&1 Together.” Over 300 employees volunteered their time alongside the core team. In addition, we created apprenticeships to also offer young refugees the prospect of starting a career.
The initiative was launched back in 2015, when staff provided a variety of “1&1 Welcome” offerings (e.g., music, sport, leisure activities, and redecorating lodgings) to refugees in initial accommodation centers to help make transitioning to their new surroundings go more smoothly. Shortly afterwards we launched “1&1 Language,” which set up contact points near the accommodation centers to enable the new arrivals to learn German. Once the accommodation centers closed, demand for these initiatives also changed.
This is why we focused from March 2016 until early 2020 on “1&1 Fit for Job.” This qualification program helped 416 people with a migration or refugee background get ready for the German labor market, supplementing state and local measures. We also brokered mentors for 22 people and ourselves offered vocational training for over 30 more, as well as offering six people jobs directly. More than 130 program participants then did internships in United Internet Group companies after completing the program. Our offices in Montabaur, Karlsruhe, and Munich offered a modular range of courses during this period, in coordination with the relevant program partners. The program provided participants with a general overview of office work, the cultural environment, and job profiles in our Company, along with practical training on how to apply for jobs and PC skills such as using Word and Excel. The lecturers and trainers were qualified Company staff who were allowed to spend up to 10% of their working time on this. In 2018, we further expanded our networking activities and cooperation with other companies and took part in networking events with the German Chamber of Industry and Trade (IHK) and the Federal Employment Agency, among other organizations, to discuss the next steps.
Throughout this period we focused on what was needed at specific times and ultimately on three core areas: assistance with preparing for vocational training, support for this training, and help for program graduates to get their first job:
In recent months, discussions with everyone involved showed that many of our additional training offerings are now covered by public and private educational institutions. We have also used the lessons learned in onboarding and integrating participants to continuously improve our standard processes in the last few years, and have now reached a level that we are convinced can exist on its own in the future.
Our vocational training success rate shows that our standard processes are now capable of offering prospects to refugees going forward. As a result, like the www.wir-zusammen.de initiative, we decided in the early months of 2020 to wind up the “1&1 Fit for Job” project office, to ensure all lessons learned are passed on to the relevant internal units, and to support refugees long-term via the enhanced standard processes that are part of our regular operations.
Looking back, we are proud of what we have achieved. Numerous discussions with a wide range of partners, public authorities, and program participants revealed their appreciation of, and thanks for, what we did.
Karine Gevorgyan graduated from the “1&1 Fit for Job” program to find a position within the United Internet Group.
Ms. Gevorgyan, how did you come to take part in the “1&1 Fit for Job” program and what do you now do at the Company?
I started with “1&1 Fit for Job” in 2017, when I was invited, with the support of the Federal Employment Agency in Montabaur, to take part in one of the courses making up the program. This training helped me make new contacts within the Company. Thanks to my participation, I was offered the opportunity to apply for a three-month internship under the “1&1 Fit for Job” program. During this time I worked as an intern in the Customer Insight Management department. After that, my contract was renewed for another three months, increasing my commitment to the Company even further.
At the end of the total period of six months, I applied for a traineeship offered by the “1&1 Fit for Job” program and was given a one-year contract that allowed me to work in four different departments: Outsourcing Management, Career Management, Project Management, and Customer Insight Management. Each department influenced my professional development and integration in its own way, while the positive working atmosphere made me interested in staying with United Internet. After completing my trainee program, I took the initiative and applied for a new position in one of the departments I had interned with. As a result, I was offered the job of Junior Quality Manager within Customer Insight Management. That’s what I am still doing and am giving it my all every day.
Looking back, it seems incredible how well things have turned out. I was so unsure about what to expect when I was invited to participate in the training course. And I certainly did not imagine that one day I would get the chance to be employed by the Company, which has a good reputation on the German job market. I am really grateful to the “1&1 Fit for Job” program for its support and assistance. In particular, I would like to thank the “1&1 Fit for Job” team, who gave me confidence in myself and helped me during the integration process and in my career development.