Vocational Training for the successful Integration of Refugees by Gewobag

Berlin, Germany Human Resources
Responsible Housing Award
“A comprehensive program including internships from 6 to 12 months, mentorship, language courses and diversity training”



Around the world, some 60 million people have been displaced and last year alone, 80,000 refugees arrived in Berlin. The Federal State
of Berlin has identified integration as an important task. Gewobag is active on a diverse market both as an employer and as a landlord
and its holdings also reflect this trend: nearly one in three of Berlin’s inhabitants has at least one parent who was born outside Germany.
Against this background, diversity in human resources acquires an important added value, for employees with foreign roots can transcend barriers and build bridges. Non-discriminatory treatment of other cultures can also help to stabilize neighbourhoods. Apart from learning the language there are other essential factors for successful integration, which include making people employable and providing them with vocational qualifications. Gewobag can create the necessary structures, contributing to the further development
of Berlin as a motor of integration because only a systematic and professional integration concept can lead to long-term success.

Issues tackled

Central goal of the project is the successful integration of refugees through the individual development of their vocational and professional qualifications. Learning the language is vital. With this project, Gewobag acknowledges its corporate social responsibility and at the same time, sets an example for other companies to follow. Therefore, transparent reports will be made available to the relevant committees, various networks and internal and external media.
The recently launched integration project marks another stage in the conscious expansion of Gewobag’s strategy and guiding motto “die ganze Vielfalt Berlins”, in other words “All the Diversity of Berlin”.

Actors involved

  • Gewobag WohnungsbauAktiengesellschaft Berlin
  • Employment Agency

Actions carried out

  • Development of competence profiles
  • Organisation of interviews
  • Assessment centre to prepare practical exercises
  • Project-oriented training courses


Gewobag created a job especially for the pilot project. The position of “coordinator” underlines the importance the company attaches to the task. Learning the language is an essential
part of integration. In addition to state-sponsored German courses, the refugees also need opportunities to speak the
language in everyday life. This is where the patrons and mentors come in. They will help develop language tandems that can make a decisive contribution to learning the language. In
the first stage of patron and mentor programme, more than five per cent of our employees offered their services. This success confirms our expectation that the project has the support
of Gewobag staff. Trade jargon and specialised language skills will be taught in German courses organised by Gewobag.
The expertise and results of the project may also apply to other sectors. Therefore, Gewobag will report regularly to the relevant committees and networks on the achievements and
challenges involved.
In addition to new, qualified staff, Gewobag will also benefit from the new cultural stimuli.

Why it works

The integration project for refugees will improve the company’s cultural diversity. With this ‘openness’, Gewobag aims to counteract the
social ‘introspection’ that appears as a result of citizens’ insecurity. This trend has also been apparent in urban Berlin.
In the future, diverse staff structures will be the key to innovation and creativity. In a knowledge-based society, these are essential
factors for success on the market. The integration project for refugees can offer valuable stimuli. Gewobag is shaping integration
process in cooperation with its employees– they are invited to play an active role which increases the acceptance rate while promoting innovations that can enhance the project.
Furthermore, through the creation of networks and platforms, other participants’ ideas can be eventually introduced as well.