Stark Im Beruf: improving job opportunities for mothers with migration background

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Out of a total of eight million families with children under the age of 18 in Germany, over 2.5 million have at least one parent with a migration background. The 28% of mothers who live in Germany – around 2.2 millions of women – have a migration background and the 48% of them are not gainfully employed (“Living diversity: Families with a migration background in Germany”: https://www.bmfsfj.de/bmfsfj/service/publikationen/gelebte-vielfalt–familien-mit-migrationshintergrund-in-deutschland/116882 ).

The Program “Stark Im Beruf” (“Strong at work”) funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) and the European Social Fund (ESF) aims to promote better opportunities for mothers with a migration background in the labour market and to facilitate the access to existing offers.

Many employers consider women with an immigration history interesting because of their multilingualism, their cultural competences and specific skills. However, despite their good qualifications and high motivation, they are far from being gainfully employed and they are significantly less than mothers without a migration background in the German labour market.

For this reason, since February 2015, around 90 projects were launched across Germany within the framework of the Program “Stark Im Beruf” in order to support mothers with a migration background on their way to employment. To become “strong at work” they need specifically to improve their language skills and to get recognition of their competences and qualifications.

The Program gives them the opportunity to attend language courses and offers support and information on labour market related issues together with advice on the compatibility between family and work. One of the main goals of “Stark Im Beruf” is to accompany the (re) entry of the participants in the labour market: from the vocational orientation to the beginning of an internship, an apprenticeship or a further qualification up to the first employment.

The first funding phase started at the beginning of 2015 and will run until the end of 2018. The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and the European Social Fund (ESF) each support the projects with up to € 50,000 a year.

Elke Beecken is responsible for the “Stark Im Beruf” Program at the Volkschochschule Delmenhorst. She gave us an overview about the structure and the main subjects of the courses.

The lessons take place on three mornings a week with four hours each and are addressed to two learner groups with different language knowledges (yearly the program involves 30 to 40 participants). The lessons focus on the following subjects: German language, health, professional orientation, visiting companies, IT application training and work placement. Participants can take up to 10 months with 480 lessons.

Since July 2017, the “Stark Im Beruf” Program has been extended to refugee mothers in order to improve their employment perspectives. The lack of German language skills represents the most important obstacle to get a job and many of the mothers who have fled have to attend a literacy course before they can begin an A1-level integration course. Moreover, the access of refugee women to the labour market usually takes longer and binds more resources for individual support.

Stark Im Beruf” not only opens up mothers’ personal perspectives and professional orientation, but it also gives them the opportunity to get in touch with German society and to increase their social exchanges.

Thanks to this project, women with a migration background – including the refugee mothers – enhance their self-confidence and become aware of their skills and competences for the benefit of their children and the other family members.

Find out more about “Stark Im Beruf”: www.starkimberuf.de

Francesca Garreffa

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