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Network meeting on integration at the Bosch Center in Stuttgart
Representatives of the 210 companies that are part of the “Wir Zusammen” (We, together) network, of which Bosch was a founding member, convened on November 17 at the Bosch Center in Stuttgart to discuss the integration of refugees currently living in Germany. These companies strongly believe that successful integration calls for cooperation between policymakers, society, and business. At presentations and workshops, event participants discussed the challenges and opportunities related to integration.
Organizer Marlies Peine in conversation with representatives of Bosch and a refugee
What is the network’s current status, and where is it headed? To answer this question, companies shared their experiences and were given information on challenging topics. At workshops, participants were given advice on how to deal with trauma or the threat of deportation. The host presented its own integration project as well as personal impressions from trainers, refugees, and associates.
A multifaceted commitment
Bosch has taken a multifaceted approach to helping refugees prepare for their working lives and adapt to their new surroundings in Germany. With internships, the company helps young people prepare for an apprenticeship. In addition to this, Bosch associates help refugees work toward an independent life. Among other things, they look for kindergarten spots, give German lessons, and organize activities such as soccer tournaments and evenings of cooking.
Dr. Gregor Heemann, Senior Vice President HR, introduces the activities of Bosch
A broad-based initiative
The “Wir Zusammen” initiative, which German companies founded in 2016, aims to develop long-term prospects for refugees. While meeting the basic needs of newly arrived refugees was the initial priority, companies are now increasingly focusing their efforts on labor market integration. All of the projects are presented in an online platform, with the aim of honoring the companies’ commitment and encourage others to do the same.
German Chancellor invites integration network to knowledge-sharing event
What does successful integration look like and how can companies create opportunities for refugees? On September 14, German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed these two questions with members of the “Wir zusammen” (“Us together”) platform in Berlin. The head of government used the meeting at the Federal Chancellery to gain insights into the activities of the participating companies – among them Bosch, Daimler, and Thyssenkrupp – with regard to the training and employment of refugees. A study that “Wir zusammen” conducted in cooperation with the Roland Berger management consultancy served as the basis for discussion. The study highlighted the opportunities that refugees create for the German economy. At the same time, experts argue that the professional qualifications of immigrants should be further improved, and hiring processes simplified – for instance by reducing administrative hurdles.
Against this backdrop, the aim of “Wir zusammen” is to help refugees become part of German society, and to enable them to access training and work opportunities. To this end, since February 2016 the platform has pooled the integration projects of more than 120 companies from different sectors. The members have already created about 3,800 internships and 750 apprenticeship opportunities. Until now, 490 refugees have been taken on as employees. Almost 16,500 members are active at the companies and serve as mentors for the newly arrived.
At the beginning of September, German Federal President Joachim Gauck visited “Wir zusammen” event in Essen to gain insights into the network’s activities. In his welcoming address, the German Federal President commended the commitment of those who actively help people who have sought asylum in Germany. After his speech, the head of state spoke with representatives of the network – among them Dieter Lochbihler of the Robert Bosch GmbH works council – about the opportunities and challenges of integration. Moreover, guests had the opportunity to find out more about the alliance thanks to an exhibit about five sample projects.
As a member of “Wir zusammen”, Bosch helps young refugees prepare to live and work in their new environment. The company’s sponsorship of a project in Immenstadt in Germany’s Allgäu region reflects its commitment. The state-of-the-art manufacturing location has created three rotating internship spots for 24 young refugees who are living in the town. The aim is to help them enter the labor market more easily. The internships are run in cooperation with the Immenstadt vocational school and last six weeks each. Mentoring programs with Bosch associates as well as supporting German lessons help participants with the process of integration. Thanks to the highly motivated young interns, the first round of internships was a huge success.
More information on the work of “Wir zusammen” can be found here (only in German available).
Origin of photo material: Federal Government (Hans-Christian Plambeck) and wir zusammen.
Associates donate more than 400,000 euros for refugees, and Bosch matches the sum
For two months, the aid organization Primavera e.V., a Bosch initiative, collected donations from associates for refugees in Europe. At the beginning of December, the Bosch board of management, the group works council, and the combined executives’ committee called on associates to make donations for refugees. With excellent results: more than 400,000 euros were collected at Bosch locations in Germany and abroad. “I am very pleased about this positive response, and I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who made a donation,“ said Dr. Volkmar Denner, the chairman of the Bosch board of management. “This shows how committed our company is to fulfilling its social responsibility.”
As promised, Bosch has matched the total sum of donations: from April onward, 820,000 euros will be spent on sustainable projects that support refugees. Starting immediately, associates can make suggestions for aid organizations they think the money should go to. Eligible projects include non-profit initiatives that current or former Bosch associates support, ideally close to a Bosch location. “It’s important to us that our associates’ donations make a measurable difference locally,” said Alfred Löckle, head of the group works council. “Our associates know exactly what’s important in the areas close to their locations.” An internal committee will decide how the donations will be distributed. The results of this decision will be announced at the beginning of April.
In December 2015, Bosch had already contributed 500,000 euros for measures that promote integration. Moreover, the company has made unused property available to municipalities and communities to build refugee shelters, as well as empty apartments.
In addition to this, Bosch is taking part in the Germany-wide „Wir zusammen“ initiative, a platform that currently pools the projects of more than 30 large and mid-sized companies. The aim is to inspire others to set up their own projects for refugees. Bosch is presenting an internship program on the platform that aims to help refugees enter the German labor market more easily. To this end, the company is working closely with different public institutions to support existing qualification programs. During the internships, Bosch associates will provide mentorships and interns will receive supporting language lessons, as these measures will help promote integration.
In recent months, associates have also volunteered for a number of local projects. For instance, they collected donations in kind for NGOs such as the German Red Cross and Arbeiterwohlfahrt. Donations included many practical things, such as sleeping bags, bicycles, and towels.