Mercedes-Benz Starts Internship Program for Refugees
10 November 2015 - Autoblog
Mercedes-Benz has started a new internship program for refugees in Germany, which offers participants work training and German language lessons over the course of fourteen weeks. Its aim is to help refugees and asylum seekers integrate into the German workforce, but not necessarily at the automaker.
The "bridge intern" program is a joint effort between Daimler and the German government's Federal Employment Agency. It starts each day on the early shift at 6:00 a.m. with three and a half hours of work in areas like axle production and logistics. That's followed by another three and a half hours of language courses where they learn to converse in German in 10-person groups, which includes help with writing letters for job applications and other critical employment skills.
Germany has been flooded recently with refugees and asylum seekers. Many of them have been coming in from the war zone in Syria. However the program also welcomes refugees from other Central Asian and African countries, including Afghanistan, Eritrea, Gambia, Nigeria, and Pakistan. The program is open to participants between the ages of 20 and 51.
"The best way for people to integrate is at the workplace," said Michael Brecht, chairman of Daimler's General Works Council. "Doing things together creates understanding for one another. That is why we are delighted that many colleagues have expressed a willingness to mentor the 'bridge interns'." In the statement below, Brecht stresses that the internship participants "are not in competition with temporary agency workers or our core workforce. This program does not put anybody at a disadvantage."
The first six weeks of the program are financed by the Federal Employment Agency, but after that, Daimler foots the bull for another eight weeks, paying the interns the standard minimum wage. The first such program has already started at the Unterürkheim plant in Stuttgart, and is set to be followed by other similar programs at additional locations.