Berlin, Germany – Thousands of job-seeking refugees have attended an employment fair in the German capital, Berlin, which attracted 211 prospective employers from a number of fields, including information technology, medicine, tourism and construction.
Monday’s event at the Estrel Hotel was part of a collaborative effort by the public and private sector to integrate refugees with protection status into the local labour market.
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According to Christian Henkes, spokesman for Germany’s Federal Employment Agency, which co-organised the event, the turnout was higher than expected, with more than 4,000 jobseekers in attendance.
“There’s big interest on [the] part of the employers that really want to give these people a chance in the country,” Henkes told Al Jazeera.
“And there’s also a huge willingness by those people who came here to Germany to find a job.”
A total of 476,649 asylum applications were registered in Germany last year, almost twice as many as in 2014.
The number of applicants has continued to rise this year, with 52,103 applications registered in January alone.
More than a third of the 2015 asylum applicants in Germany were Syrian nationals.
Kais Almudhi, a Syrian refugee, who worked as a mechanical engineer before the war, arrived in Germany three months ago and is now hoping to find work.
He told Al Jazeera that it was important for him to make use of the opportunities the job fair presented.
“I came here to consult with others, to choose what job is best, and I have registered with three or four companies. I think I have a good chance,” the 45-year-old said.
The job fair took place in Neukolln, a district of Berlin where about 10 percent of the population is of Arab descent.
“We invest in people to enable them to stand up for themselves,” said Franziska Giffey, Neukolln’s mayor, who was present at the fair.
“Due to this, we have a really good chance of integration because when somebody works, when somebody learns the language, they integrate with the society and will make an effort to be a part of this country.
“That’s important for social peace.”
Germany’s private sector was represented at the job fair by large firms such as Marriott – which operates four hotels in Berlin – and mid-size enterprises such as Bio Company, a popular chain of organic grocery stores.
“Our goal is that in each of our stores, there will be one refugee,” said Helena Jachmann, Bio Company’s human resources officer, who recruited sales people at the fair.
“Our CEO is very interested in being a part of the integration,” she added.