Porsche has flexed their muscles of hospitality and friendship as they announced recently their plans to launch the second cycle of their Integration Program, welcoming refugees of both genders from Afghanistan, Iraq, Eritrea and Syria into the Porsche family. Porsche will give fifteen lucky applicants the opportunity to gain qualifications over an eight-month period, with scope for further employment in a training position at Porsche itself, or a full time position elsewhere in the employment market. Spread over three significant sections, the program covers all the basics required of a trainee.
Firstly, participants spend three months undergoing a rigorous German language course, learning necessary vocabulary with a special focus on technical terminology; a “B1” level of language training is also available. The second stage sees all the standard technical skills addressed over one month at Porsche’s purpose-built training centre. Applicants are endorsed in safety and quality requirements in addition to practical skills such as drilling, filing and sawing.
Finally the trainees are immersed in a four-month block of observations within the technical departments of the company, completing orientation-internships at both Porsche and interested partner companies. Throughout the program, successful applicants are required to attend one day of vocational training per week in addition to sociocultural lessons and social-pedagogical teachings (Social pedagogy is essentially concerned with well-being, learning and growth).
When questioned about their motivation for such an initiative, Porsche acknowledged that as a large and successful company, they have a responsibility toward the greater community and its industries. Where smaller companies are unable to support such a program, and often lack skilled workers, Porsche is able to provide the integral training required of such staff. The goal for their Integration Program is to build up a skillset for each refugee, so they can find a stable form of employment within the automobile industry and indeed a career in their newfound home country.
Porsche has laid the groundwork for their trainees by working closely with the German Federal Employment Agency so that their applicants have access to informed career advice as they begin their journey in the industry. The program has gone from strength-to-strength after a very successful first year, where eleven of the fifteen applicants, aged between 18 and 38 years old, received employment within Porsche’s walls.
“Porsche continues to enjoy success, which makes it all the more important that we look at the bigger picture. That is why our integration programme is not simply aimed at giving refugees employment opportunities that will help them to integrate successfully. Instead, it is about using our training expertise to provide companies like craft businesses or smaller industrial enterprises with motivated and highly qualified junior staff”
– Andreas Haffner (Member of the Executive Board, Human Resources and Social Affairs at Porsche AG)
When interviewed about the initiative, Uwe Hück, Chair of the Group Works Council at Porsche, acknowledges that “being a refugee is not a career, it is a harsh fate” and laments that when a company is as successful as Porsche, they have an “obligation towards the wider society”.
Hück says “Behind every story of refugees there are real people and we must help them as best we can”, pointing out that integration is by no means a one-way street; requiring successful applicants to learn the German language, adapt to the German culture and “play their part in a diligent and disciplined way”.
Mr. Hück surmises his view of the entire program very simply: “This will help us to make a contribution to society, and that is the unique spirit at Porsche”.