chancen:reich – First career fair for refugees in Austria
chancen:reich – Austria's first career fair for refugees came to Vienna, setting them on a more decided path towards integration.
On the 29th of June, Vienna's Museum Quarter hosted Austria's first ever career fair for refugees. In cooperation with various stakeholders – including, but not limited to, AMS Vienna, the Vienna Business Agency, REWE International PLC, Spar, Ströck, T-Mobile, Beavr, Simacek, and the Commercial Cleaning Academy – the "Chance Integration" association has made the idea a reality. The aim of the initiative is to give motivated, and qualified refugees with valid work permits access to the domestic labor market. "The labor market plays a crucial role in the successful integration of refugees. chancen:reich is a platform through which asylees, businesses, and organizations are brought together; a milestone on the path towards a regular working life. Our goal is both to open up opportunities to refugees, and provide added value to companies by expanding the talent pool from which they pick new employees," said fair organizers Stephanie Cox and Leo Widrich. The fair is aimed primarily at refugees with positive asylum and subsidiary care decisions, who have unrestricted access to the Austrian labor market. Attending the fair is free of charge.
A Comprehensive Program – workshops, short presentations, and training on how to write a successful job application are just a few of the activities offered at the fair. The path to employment is filled with uncertainties, cultural differences, and knowledge gaps. chancen:reich bridges these gaps though an enriching program that offers practical services such as legal advice, and CV writing guidance in addition to lectures, exhibitions, and roundtable discussions. By visiting the various exhibitors' stands, visitors gained further insight on the topics of entrepreneurship, diploma certification, and housing, among others. Together with several charitable organizations, experts from Austrian sponsor agencies (AMS Vienna, Vienna Business Agency) provided specialized information to the refugees. With over 50 companies and exhibitors on-site, bringing together job seekers and potential future employers is both straightforward and easy.
The Workplace – a Key Factor in Integration
Currently, over 15 500 asylum and subsidiary protection garantees are registered by the Social Employment Service of Vienna, for whom it is of the utmost importance that they are able to regain control over their lives and learn to stand on their own two feet. Quickly finding gainful employment that allows them to develop personally and professionally is a key component of this independence. "We support this career fair because we wish to win businesses over as partners – after all, they are the ones who provide jobs," says AMS director Petra Draxl. "Our task is to bring together businesses and refugees through promoting German courses, competence checks, job training, and targeted support for companies hiring asylees." To this end, AMS Vienna subsidizes half of a refugee's wages for up to five months, in addition to helping with the non-wage related costs of new employment relationships. Draxl adds: "Since the beginning of 2016, AMS Vienna has helped more than 1000 refugees find places in Viennese companies.“
The technicalities of starting a business were also discussed at the fair, offering the refugees yet another path to independence and self-reliance. The Business Agency of Vienna provided comprehensive information on what support systems exist should they want to establish a business in Vienna. "We are very well aware that many refugees owned their own businesses in the their homelands. With our support, we wish to show them that this is also a possibility in Vienna. In doing so, they will not only be helping themselves, but also improving the overall business environment in the region", says Gabriele Tatzberger, chief of Start-up Services in the Vienna Business Agency.
Best Practice – Helping and Benefiting Businesses
Intregrating refugees into the Austrian labor market is a huge societal difficulty. chancen:reich, the first career fair for refugees, is a major Austrian initiative that proposes a concrete solution to the challenge of integrating new arrivals. Over 50 Austrian companies were present at the fair, offering young and educated refugees that have been granted asylum new opportunities through apprenticeships and trainings. REWE International, a chancen:reich partner, agreed not only to participate in the career fair, but also to intensify their commitment to furthering the educational and vocational development of young refugees, offering German lessons and apprenticeships. "We find it important to provide refugee youth with new prospects, using education and training to make them active participants in our community. We have successfully started the first round of apprenticeships, and our positive experience thus far encourages us to expand the program in the future", explains Johannes Zimmerl, director of coporate human resources, REWE International.
chancen:reich partner SPAR is also welcoming their new fellow Austrians. "SPAR is a business that is unafraid of taking on this challenge, already employing people from 67 different countries. We happily commit ourselves to chancen:reich's initiative and are greatly looking forward to welcoming our new colleagues. I see it as an important component in tackling a shortage of skilled workers", remarks Alois Huber, managing director of SPAR.
We hope that after reading this, you got some inspiration to organize similar event in your country. Integration of people coming to Europe is important and it's not one country's issue. It's "issue" of all of us.