From learning German to help with vocational and educational training: the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is supporting the integration of refugees with an extensive package of measures.
Education empowers you: that is particularly true for the refugees arriving in Germany right now and for whom integration will not happen without education. More than half of these refugees are younger than 25, an age at which they need vocational education and training (VET). This means a necessary focus on integration through training over the next few years.
Besides the federal government's financial support for State governments (Länder) and district authorities, the ministry will be investing EUR 130 million for German learning, having refugees' competences and potential recognised and for integration measures training and work. Learning German is the single most important requirement to enable refugees to integrate into society.
As well as more conventional approaches such as integration and language courses, the ministry will launch learning apps, which will be easy for refugees to access and use. A special literacy programme called Lesestart is being launched for refugee children and there is support for voluntary reading mentors [http://www.lesestart-fuer-fluechtlingskinder.de/, in German only]. Voluntary learning assistants will have the opportunity to become qualified, so that they can work alongside teaching staff as they support these children to start learning German. For this task, there are capable, experienced partners available in the Stiftung Lesen (literacy foundation) and the Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband e.V. (German adult education association).
Many refugees already have professional or vocational qualifications. The Recognition of Foreign Qualifications Act provides a solid basis for having those qualifications recognised. According to the Federal Statistical Office, the number of recognised qualifications continues to rise: in 2014, there were around 20 000 recognition procedures, 20% more than in 2013; 78% of those completed were classed as fully equivalent, with only 3.6 % rejected.
What applies to German youngsters also applies to the newly arriving refugees: careers guidance at an early stage and support in finding a traineeship are the deciding factors for a successful start in training (https://www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de/html/en/). That is why the ministry is supporting successful schemes, especially across the regions, which are being taken up by many refugees. The KAUSA service advice points are being extended and their number doubled (http://www.jobstarter.de/de/kausa-servicestellen-100.php, in German only). At these advisory points, support on dual education is provided for those individuals, young people and their parents who have migration backgrounds.
Integration takes place at a grassroots level, so whether new arrivals integrate successfully will be determined in local communities. Since the beginning of 2016, the Federal Ministry for Education and Research has begun enabling all rural and urban districts (around 400) to finance a coordinator to organise and coordinate training on offer for refugees.
Alliances for education are also receiving extra support through the Kultur macht stark (culture empowers you) programme [http://www.buendnisse-fuer-bildung.de/, in German only]. This programme offers out-of-school activities in music, dance or theatre as well as mentoring: at present, some 300 000 children and young people are involved. The German adult education association has already extended the courses it offers, so young people can acquire the linguistic and cultural know-how which will help them integrate and make an important contribution to Germany's Willkommenskultur (welcoming culture).
One thing is sure: if integration is successful in training, on the labour market and in society, then everybody benefits.