Startup & Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurs breaking the language barrier
One of the biggest problems of refugees immigrating to other countries is that in most cases their education gets cut short owing to the war. As a result, they find it difficult to get a job in the new country. In the case of Syrian refugees moving to Germany, the language is the biggest barrier.
Hussein Shaker was one such refugee, who had to move to Germany with one year in Information Technology course still left at the university in Aleppo. He knew nothing about the tech scene or how valuable developers like him were in the city.
Especially, after the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, introduced mandatory German lessons in exchange for financial support, students didn’t have any option but to learn the language first reluctantly putting their career on hold.
In 2015, around 1.1 million refugees arrived in Germany. Though the country is facing the uphill task of incorporating them at jobs, they are mostly labour jobs. Except the German IT industry, which had around 43, 000 job vacancies last year.
All of this was until a colleague of his introduced him to Remi Mekki, a Norwegian entrepreneur living in Berlin. It was there he got to know that tech companies in the city were so desperate for developers that they didn’t care whether employees could speak German. And besides, all knew English.
It was with the aim to tackle refugee unemployment that both of them with two other Berliners co-founded MigrantHire. One just has to upload their CV in English, German or Arabic. All the rest is done by the platform’s six-person team. They iron out legal issues, help refugees get permission to work and prepare them for interviews.
During the current pilot phase, MigrantHire has been approached by employers but it also seeks out vacancies that match refugees’ experience, charging a success fee when developers are hired. Mekki and Shaker have channelled all their efforts into finding jobs in Berlin’s vibrant tech scene for refugees with IT experience.
For English-speaking refugees, the IT sector can offer a shortcut into the labour market as many offices work internationally and don’t require employees to speak German.
MigrantHire aims to get 10,000 refugees into jobs by 2017. But, the paper works and other formalities like – getting refugee candidates and employers on board, finding the match, preparing candidates for the interview, following up with the company- take way too much time.
The company realizes that to have any chance of doing this it needs to change the way it works. Its looking to form partnerships with other refugee recruiters that specializes in matchmaking and is in talks with ‘Connecteer’ and ‘Work for Refugees’. To achieve its target of 10,000 jobs, the team is also looking to broaden its focus from refugees with IT experience to skilled and unskilled refugees from all professions.
The task however is a mammoth one as English-speaking environment in Germany is not much available. The job of integrating about 600,000 people into the labour market seems impossible if they are to find English-speaking jobs for all of them. Sooner or later MigrantHire would need to partner with strong associations like the Federal Ministry of Labour or the Federal Employment Agency.