Integration: greater support for learning specialist terminology

"Immigration and vocational education and training must be considered in relation to occupations, and practically implemented," appeals training advisor Peter Braune. Only in this way, he explains, can future skilled workers be drawn from among the immigrants. Above all, this requires occupation-related language skills, he writes in his guest article.

In my view, what is needed to improve the integration of people with minimal German language skills are approaches which combine the learning of specialist knowledge with the acquisition of German language skills.

Only this will lead to focussed training in the company-based and vocational school learning locations. These must be a close connection between German language learning, knowledge and skills, and professional terminology. To achieve this, skilled trade businesses also need motivated specialists to work with employees with languages of origin other than German.

There are very few materials available for learning specialist terminology; these are mostly to be found in the education and nursing occupations, in commerce and in the hotel industry and the catering trade. The materials have generally been developed as part of publicly funded projects. It would certainly be a good idea to make these publicly accessible. My hope is that all language learning materials depicting situations in everyday working life were always developed with the help of specialists from practice.

Integrating language support in practical work processes

It would be good if language support at vocational schools is focused at the level of learning of the students and, as far as possible, is integrated in practical work processes. A link to occupational practice in the skilled trades businesses would certainly be sensible. The offers at vocational schools for migrants of 16 years and above must be included in the funding chains for the transition into non-funded vocational education and training. For this, joint and appropriate programmes must be maintained in the federal states, employment agencies, job centres and with the school authorities.

Immigrants transitioning into vocational education and training require further support with specialist language skills if they attend vocational school. This is the prerequisite for learning specialist terminology and for successful integration as a skilled worker into the company.

Systemically raising the level of language skills

Unfortunately, in terms of developing skilled workers, labour market policy has given far too little consideration to immigrants as a target group and to their support requirements. This is why the length of the retraining period also needs to be extended; the current period of less than two-thirds of the standard training does not take into account the fact that, alongside knowledge and skills, professional terminology needs to be learned and therefore German language skills also need to be developed. To support improved labour market integration, the assessment measures should certainly test in general for aptitude and motivation for a specific occupational profile, but also for the capacity to learn a language. The language assessment ought to be focused on the target group. It would certainly be very important that the language level of those seeking work is systemically increased in the employment agencies and job centres,

The variety of offers now being created at municipal level to provide language support for immigrants demonstrates that all this has not been conceived in a particularly systematic manner. This ensures competition for the best ideas, but also differing basic parameters. In order to support people in as targeted a way as possible, the federal government, federal states and employment agencies and municipalities must work together, and in line with one another. The starting point for this must be the different target groups, in other words their respective school qualification or vocational or employment status, and not the applicable funding guidelines. Voluntary language support may work alongside, but must not be used as the main method.

Companies need "troubleshooters" with appropriate specialisms

The skilled trades are already making a decent contribution in this regard, however a lot more could be done. They urgently need guidance on all issues relating to integration of this target group in company-based vocational education and training. Offers relating to the organisation and support of job trials and placements are also appropriate. Obviously there must be no lack of assistance for skilled trades businesses in the area of recruitment and support throughout the entire period of training. Troubleshooters with appropriate specialisms are needed for this. Finally, the continuing education and training of training managers is also relevant.

Skilled trades businesses can actually only gain from the training of refugees. The master craftsmen and women however need to know the legal framework conditions because employment opportunities are critically dependent on the current residency status. There are recognised persons for whom a positive decision was arrived at by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees regarding their application for asylum. For persons with permission to remain pending the asylum decision [Aufenthaltsgestattung], the asylum procedure is not yet concluded. Persons with the status of temporary suspension of deportation [Duldung] are not or no longer in the asylum procedure or have already received a negative decision. Their deportation is suspended mostly for humanitarian reasons. They receive the certificate confirming suspension of deportation, this is referred to as "Duldung".

Source: (newspaper of the German Skilled Crafts sector), revised by iMOVE, September 2021