Wuppertal Partizipation Network in Wuppertal, Germany
In 2007, changes to the German policies governing refugees and asylum seekers resulted in new opportunities for a population formerly denied access to both employment and training. Earning wages sufficient to be independent of social services became mandatory for the right to stay in Germany. The City of Wuppertal responded by introducing an intensive job readiness project to help asylum seekers find long-term employment. In 2008, the city established the Partizipation Network, a multi-sector job readiness initiative to help asylum seekers access the labour market. Community partners such as Diakonia Wuppertal, the Catholic Women's Social Services (SKF), and Gefährdetenhilfe Wuppertal eV provided operational support, including door-to-door recruitment of asylum seekers on the city lists and cold-calling employers to identify potential job placements. Services included focused job coaching, training courses, mentoring, help with resumes and job applications as well as the cultural sensitivity needed to ensure women are not left behind, for example, or to motivate young people to participate. Essential to the success of the programme was the scale of support offered to a client group marginalised by lack of opportunity. Appointments, reminders, counselling, guidance and support for the participants were as important as the interactions of project managers with employers and other stakeholders. Within six months, city social workers noticed a change in the attitudes of participant families as parents became first-time job seekers and job-holders. Within two years, most participants were able to successfully extend their residence permits. Wuppertal's intensive intervention resulted in both improved integration and cost savings for government. Begun as a pilot project with funding from the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) and the European Social Fund, the project has since been replicated in the neighbouring cities of Remscheid and Solingen. In 2010, the pilot project was rewarded with new funding and a mandate to expand its services as Partizipation Plus with a new partner, Job Center Wuppertal.
This practice was kindly contributed by Cities of Migration, a program of the Global Diversity Exchange, Ryerson University (Toronto, Canada). See more at the Cities of Migration website: http://citiesofmigration.ca/good_idea/from-asylum-to-employment-the-wuppertal-partizipation-network/.