The Welcome Centers are a joint service of the four Chambers of Industry and Commerce located in Rhineland-Palatinate in cooperation with the state government. They support interested companies and skilled workers from abroad in every step, from recruitment to entry regulations and arrival in Germany. They see themselves as the first point of contact and guide in their network. "Make it in Germany" spoke with the Welcome Centers about their experiences from their work.
As a Welcome Center, do you offer special services for companies looking for foreign skilled workers?
Yes, in addition to individual counselling, the Welcome Centers in Rhineland-Palatinate regularly offer events. This year in the form of webinars – for example on the legal framework, building a welcoming culture in the company, questions of professional recognition and new projects. The current offers are always available on the state's website "Make it in Rhineland-Palatinate". There you will also find, for example, the new welcome folder, which is intended to help employers organise the process.
Do you work together with other authorities / institutions?
Personal contacts and a functioning network are very important for our work. Many processes in skilled labour immigration are just emerging and we are mutually dependent on a continuous exchange. In Rhineland-Palatinate, for example, we work closely with state policy-makers, the local employment agencies, the Chambers of Crafts and above all the Central Foreigners Authority in Kaiserslautern. Our network extends further to the Central Service Point for Vocational Recognition (ZSBA), recognition authorities and federal ministries. On the one hand, we can thus ensure the flow of information to our member companies, and on the other hand, we have close ties when we want to pass on corporate matters.
From your experience: What are currently the most frequent topics among those seeking advice?
About 55 per cent of our advisory services are used by company representatives. In most cases, counselling deals with questions of entry – i.e. handling the administrative processes, the legal framework and, very specifically, the Skilled Immigration Act. In addition, we get asked a lot about concrete possibilities for recruiting skilled workers abroad. Regarding this topic, a wider offer, especially for vocationally trained professionals, would be a great support for many companies.
The conversations with interested qualified professionals are, in addition to questions about the legal framework and professional recognition, more about finding employers and offers for German courses. By the way, there is also a great need here, especially in terms of job-related language acquisition.
What three tips would you give to employers who want to recruit or hire skilled workers from abroad?
- Plan long enough in advance. Finding skilled workers from abroad requires patience, preparation and contacts. Your Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a good contact for the initial orientation and can support you as a guide.
- Work on a welcoming culture in the company. Employing international staff has an impact on the whole workforce. Prepare your employees, set up a mentoring programme, for example, and ensure a positive approach to diversity in the company.
- Accompany your new employee beyond the employment relationship. This can also mean keeping an eye on the accompanying family – because here, too, language skills may have to be proven upon entry. Advice on finding accommodation and a school for the children can be just as important as choosing a suitable language course.
We would like to thank the Welcome Centers in Rhineland-Palatinate for this contribution!
You can find the contact points on the state's portal "Make it in Rhineland-Palatinate".