Project THAMM: Fair recruitment of trainees and skilled workers from North Africa
Correct as of: 30/06/2022
With its project entitled “Towards a Holistic Approach to Labour Migration Governance and Labour Mobility in North Africa” (THAMM), German development cooperation promotes the fair and development-oriented recruitment of trainees and qualified professionals from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia.
1. What exactly does the THAMM project involve?
The THAMM project helps partner institutions in North Africa to provide routes for regular labour migration to Europe. One element of the project is the introduction of pilot schemes for the placement of trainees and skilled workers from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia with companies in Germany. Based on the experience gained from the pilot schemes, processes will be adapted step by step. In the process, GIZ works hand in hand with the Federal Employment Agency, as well as with the employment services and relevant ministries in the partner countries. With this in mind, THAMM selects suitable candidates, and prepares them for life in Germany by providing a language course up to Level B1 CEFR and intercultural training. Project participants are placed with interested companies and then assisted with visa applications and entry to Germany. Once the participants have arrived in Germany, the project organises welcome events and regular consultation hours for both the participants and the companies involved, making it easier for both sides to ensure the newcomers’ successful integration.
2. Which sectors does the project focus on, and how are they chosen?
The sectors in which THAMM places trainees and skilled workers are selected based on needs in the partner countries and in Germany. The joint decision is made by the employment services in the partner countries and the German Federal Employment Agency.
THAMM currently places trainees in the following sectors: hotel and catering, electrical trades, construction, IT, industrial mechanics and the baking trade.
3. How many applicants are there, and how many trainees has the project managed to place with companies in Germany so far?
Young people in the partner countries are very interested in the THAMM project, with the number of applications exceeding the number of places on offer many times over. The most suitable applicants are accepted into the project. More than 400 project participants have received linguistic and intercultural training in preparation for their migration, and over 200 trainees and skilled workers have been placed with companies in Germany since the start of the project.
4. How does the placement process between project participants and employers work? Which aspects have an impact on the success of the placement?
THAMM relies on a broad network to attract interested companies. This includes the recruiting services of the Federal Employment Agency, chambers and associations. THAMM advises potential employers on the conditions of participation, proposes suitable candidates, and organises virtual interviews. If a candidate is hired, THAMM coordinates the visa process and the migrant’s entry to Germany. THAMM also helps skilled workers to obtain recognition of the degrees and qualifications they have acquired abroad.
THAMM project participants are highly motivated to enter training or employment in Germany, and have prepared intensively for this new stage in their lives. Nevertheless, language barriers can be challenging, as well as the process of settling into a new environment. Particularly at the start of the vocational training or employment relationship, this can mean that employers will have to provide greater support.
5. The THAMM project also places a strong emphasis on preparing trainees and integrating them after they have arrived in Germany. In which area do you see a need in this respect?
The THAMM project comprehensively prepares project participants for life in Germany, and also provides them with support once they have arrived in the country. There is a particular need for language acquisition, raising awareness of cultural differences between the countries of origin and Germany, and support with bureaucratic processes before leaving their home country as well as in Germany.
6. In your experience, are there differences between qualified skilled workers and trainees?
On the one hand, there are differences in the legal framework. For trainees, for example, a priority check by the Federal Employment Agency is still required. Skilled workers, on the other hand, must have their foreign degrees and qualifications recognised and, if necessary, complete adaptation qualification in Germany. There are also differences on a personal level. For example, the issue of family reunion is particularly important for skilled workers, most of whom are older.
7. Where do you see the biggest challenges?
Examples of major challenges include German language skills and accommodation. Successful language acquisition is not only a condition for the project participants being issued a visa – it also helps them to integrate successfully into the company. Despite intensive language preparation in the country of origin, communication is often a challenge, especially when newcomers start their vocational training or employment. Another challenge is the lack of affordable housing, also in rural areas. This is especially true for trainees, given that they have less financial resources at their disposal.
We thank Ms Andrea Milkowski (Project Leader) for talking to us!
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In some cases, the Federal Employment Agency has to check whether there are job applicants with priority rights over migrants. This means investigating whether or not an actual vacancy can be filled by a job-seeker in Germany. This criterion is considered to have been satisfied if the employer can prove that there are no suitable applicants among the priority unemployed.