The Integration Puzzle What a Million Refugees Mean for Everyday Life

The New Germany: Within only 12 months, over 1 million people moved to Germany. How will they integrate?

The New Germany: Within only 12 months, over 1 million people moved to Germany. How will they integrate?


Part 21: BMW Courts Refugees

Inga Jürgens, 47, is the head of personnel strategy at the BMW Group and director of the WORK HERE! practical training program.

Ms. Jürgens, has BMW had any success in finding Syrian engineers?

We developed the idea this past September. As a company, we believe we have an obligation to society. That's why we want to help 500 refugees get acquainted with the German working world. Our plan was to start with 50 people, but we had a difficult time finding enough participants to fill all the slots. A sufficient knowledge of German was one of the prerequisites, but very few have that. In the end, 31 men and three women came to our company headquarters in Munich -- including 34 professionally qualified refugees, of whom 27 were still with us as of mid-January. The program began with a two-day crash course, "Living and Working in Germany," on Nov. 16. It answered questions like: What's important to us Germans? What's the appropriate way to dress? How do we meet women? How do people greet each other? And what is the correct behavior in the company cafeteria? Afterwards, they begin work experience programs in very diverse departments. Those who prove themselves can then apply for an internship or an open position.

We came to the determination quickly that the education level of many wasn't sufficient. Some have completed vocational training, but few have studied business or IT. Besides, IT in the countries they are coming from isn't necessarily at the same level as here. What I did see in every one of them, though, was a high degree of motivation to come to work.

At the beginning, we had to explain to participants that in Germany it isn't enough to just send your brother in your place if you are unable to come to work. Or that excuses like "the bus didn't come" won't work because the buses almost always come in Germany and that, if you don't trust that the bus will keep to its schedule, you'll just have to take an earlier one.

Refugees from Syria or Afghanistan come from a relationship-oriented culture -- and they have trouble finding their way in an expertise-oriented culture like that in Germany. They have to learn, for example, that it is not normal to ask your supervisor during your first conversation how old they are or about their relationship status.

Discuss this issue with other readers!
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spiegelerin 02/21/2016
1. HOW do you integrate them?
I just saw a photo of Africans squatting on a boat waiting to come over and another load of them waiting in Libya. (Kaddafi said, watch what happens when they just hop over to Europe.) They are going to take an integration course and live well in hyper independent Germany? I don't think so. They are adults with different norms. When it comes to women, when it comes to how to cure AIDS (sleeping with virgins) when it comes to noise in the streets...the cultures will not harmoniously merge and European culture will have to deal with becoming less woman friendly, louder and so on...I don't see this happening at all well, but apparently "mixed" societies like in France and Belgium work 'well enough." But more are coming and I don't see harmony, at least not for people with European norms. Will this one get published? It's MY opinion, not that of SPON.
artvent 02/21/2016
2. Muslim Refugees
I'm sorry for these people, but you must realize they will live in their own ghettos and because of their religion will never assimilate - they will not contribute to your society because they are mostly uneducated and they will not respect their host nation. Just look at France if you want to see the problem. Most of all I feel sorry for the German people and what will happen to Germany in the years to come after this invasion. You will lose your identity.
bartelbe 02/21/2016
3. it won't work
You want to know what integration looks like? Integration is mixed families, it is muslim girls dating, sleeping with, marrying and having families with German men. That isn't going to happen, because if a muslim girl amoung these "refugees" decided to date a German man she would be dishonouring her family and would be punish. Let that sink in, your new arrivals reguard you with such contempt that if one of their female relatives dated one of your young men, it would be seen as a form of dishonour. If it was the other way round you would condemn that attitude as racist, but no doubt it will be swept under the carpet just like the events in Cologne. Sex and relationships reveals the truth about how people feel. Your new arrivals are not interested in integration, and they do not respect your culture. That is the truth and no amount of PC censorship will change that.
nsmith 02/22/2016
4. Integration Doesn't Happen Overnight...
Germany is going to find out that Integration is not as easy as "Wir Schaffen Das!" The United States of America was built on that same principle over 300 years ago, and we're still having problems with it.
spiegelerin 02/24/2016
5. The next task is to integrate them...
Yes, one integration course and they will learn European values of not grabbing women, of not thinking that women alone have no honor...One integration course and they won't be the desperate people who don't respect barriers, who don't jump trains. No, if You don't give them money and take care of their needs, they are going to get angry. Just take care of them, at any cost.
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