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GERMANY
Refugees in south to get study and career guidance
Germany’s south-western state of Baden-Württemberg has launched an initiative to provide study and vocational guidance for refugees. The scheme is supported by the state government, universities, industry and the Federal Employment Agency.

The participants in the initiative refer to education as a key factor in the integration of refugees. They seek to cooperate in a number of areas concerning counselling on study and vocational training and education and regard the two fields as equally important in the integration process.

A joint declaration signed by the parties involved states that the options provided in the German vocational training and higher education system to switch from one area to the other are of great benefit for the refugees. However, the declaration argues that the huge diversity of educational biographies among the refugees calls for the creation of more links between career tracks in and between the two areas.

It states that this appears to be all the more important given that previous qualifications and degrees held by refugees yet have to be determined and assessed in the vast majority of cases.

Further aspects referred to in the declaration regarding integration in studying and training include programmes for gaining German language proficiency, funding models for trainees and students, and guaranteeing a secure residential status for them.

The signatories have agreed to cooperate in identifying and processing interfaces between various activity fields, synchronising guidance structures, networking between career and study advisors, contacts for refugees at universities and regional coordinators, and organising special symposia and meetings for the relevant committees, as well as information events.

The initiative has been strongly welcomed by Germany’s Hochschulrektorenkonferenz or HRK, the representative body of university rectors.

“The study and vocational guidance initiative for refugees in Baden-Württemberg can set an example for the rest of the country,” says HRK President Horst Hippler.

“In the interests of both the refugees and the universities, it is vital to identify competences, skills and interests and explain the diversity of careers that would suit individuals. The best way to achieve this is by close cooperation between the actors involved, and that is what Baden-Württemberg is planning.”

In all, 441,899 refugees came to Germany and were then registered there in 2015. In Baden-Württemberg, initially-received refugees peaked at 39,656 in November. However, many moved on to other federal states or other countries in the European Union without being registered.

Newly registered refugees reached a figure of 17,307 in December. People from Syria accounted for around half of the respective contingents in these months. There are just over a million refugees throughout Germany as a whole.

Michael Gardner Email: michael.gardner@uw-news.com
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