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Refugees complete work experience at SEW-EURODRIVE

07/01/2016

How do things look inside a German industrial company? What makes a company like this successful? How can I play a part? These are the kinds of questions on young asylum seekers’ minds. In response, SEW-EURODRIVE is offering five days’ work experience to students that came to the country as refugees.

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The main idea is to offer the young people from Syria, Iraq, Pakistan or Gambia a first insight into a key industrial company and the different professions in mechanics, electrical engineering and technical product design. It’s also a special opportunity to get to know a bit more about our workplace culture.

Capable and committed assistance with the practical exercises and learning technical terms and relationships has been forthcoming from the SEW-EURODRIVE training team and beyond. The company’s first-year apprentices are making a great effort and looking after the work experience group. The special training units they have developed help ensure the young people really benefit from their time at SEW-EURODRIVE.

In the electrical engineering section, the refugees are taught how to construct circuits and to apply this knowledge in soldering exercises. Practical exercises also form the focus in mechanics, where the young people get to practice the work steps required to manufacture a game of “Connect Four” – turning, drilling, milling, sawing, etc. – which gives them a feel for the specialist skills of a trained mechanic.

Before any product is manufactured, it first has to be designed. The refugees also get a taster of this line of work, which rounds off the wide-ranging program by honing their skills in preparing drawings both by hand and using CAD.

Fun course units foster intercultural exchange

And the human element shines through as well. Everyone involved learns and gets to understand a bit more about one another by talking together. For this purpose, the SEW-EURODRIVE apprentices have specially designed a technical memory game. This promotes intercultural exchange that teaches both sides a great deal about one another. What is this or that technical term in the native languages? What is working life like in the different home countries? There is also opportunity to ask these and many other questions, such as “What foods and dishes are typical in your country?”, at the international breakfast organized by the apprentices.

Markus Süss, Head of Technical Training at SEW-EURODRIVE, is pleased with the result. “We share many positive experiences with these boys and girls who were forced to flee from their home countries and are now visiting us for work experience. They are highly motivated, open-minded and very focused.”

The 16–22 year-old asylum seekers are subject to mandatory schooling. They are currently attending a “VAB/O” course (pre-qualification year for work and career / without knowledge of German). Having said that, all the refugee work experience participants at SEW-EURODRIVE have been able to get along very well in German so far. The students are released from classes one day per week to complete the five-day orientation work placement. They look forward to this every week.

Finding their place in society and gaining a good high school certificate smooths the path to an apprenticeship and a career

Whether their dream job is as an IT expert, auto-mechanic, heart surgeon, bus driver, carer for the elderly or kindergarten teacher, the aim of the orientation work placement is to show them what an industrial company and the professions involved are like. In the same way as other young people, they should get the chance to experience first-hand how hard work at school will pay off. After all, a good high school certificate will stand them in very good stead for completing their training and securing a good job in Germany.

Who knows, perhaps SEW-EURODRIVE’s training team and apprentices will have inspired one or more of the work experience group to consider a career in industry and learn the specialist skills required. Successful high school graduates certainly have the opportunity of being accepted for an apprenticeship at SEW-EURODRIVE.