Germany needs way more techies. And we’re not just saying that because we’re a tech startup looking for new hires: it’s widely recognized that Germany is facing a shortage of qualified candidates in the tech and IT sector. A study conducted by the Manpower Group in 2015 found that IT-experts are the fourth most desired professionals in Germany. Additionally, a recent report from the German employment agency shows that as of 2016 there are 59,000 jobs available in Germany’s IT industry, up from 51,000 available in 2015. While tech is an ever-growing field, the demand for talented coders and developers far surpasses the supply. So how can Germany fill these much-needed roles?

Luckily it turns out there is no lack of people who can rise to the occasion. We’ve already discussed the lack of women in tech, and how a larger female presence could have a huge impact on the talent shortage. But there’s another major source of untapped potential that is particularly relevant to Germany: the refugee community.

Germany has accepted more refugees than any other country in the EU. In 2016 there were 745,155 asylum seekers in Germany alone. And within Germany, Berlin and other major cities often become home to the most asylum seekers. While refugee relocation and their subsequent integration is a nuanced and difficult process, it also has the potential to be a truly transformative and positive experience for both immigrants and native Germans.

In Berlin especially, we don’t see the challenges in the tech industry and the challenges of integration as discrete. For refugees looking to branch into a new career, learning to code is the perfect way to find employment opportunities, mingle with others in the field, and learn more about German society. For Germany, promoting tech skills among refugees represents a huge opportunity to develop and grow the tech industry. Already a wellspring of initiatives have been created to provide tech programs to refugees. Consider the ReDI School of Digital Integration which offers classes free of charge to asylum seekers. This is is no easy feat; tech learning requires a lot of coordination, from organizing interested participants and teachers to planning learning sessions and computer access. Dalia has been lucky enough to participate in a few refugee-tech programs in the past few weeks, and it really increased our appreciation for all the work that’s being done.

Tech Marktplatz

Katharina, who organized Dalia’s presence at the Tech Marktplatz says of the event:

“The Tech Marktplatz was an awesome event hosted by the Migration Hub Network in Mitte, and organised by NETZWERK Unternehmen integrieren Flüchtlinge, of which Dalia is now a member. The event was created to bring companies in need of skilled IT employers together with initiatives that support refugees. The organization and participating associations support refugees in multiple ways; from assisting with everyday tasks, to supporting job searches and organizing skill training sessions. It was a great networking event where Dalia got to know a lot about the possibility of hiring refugees. The organizers also openly addressed important details; like how to gracefully tackle potential obstacles, and address the needs of recently relocated people.”

    

    

(images from the NETZWERK Unternehmen integrieren Flüchtlinge)

Devugees

Dalia also had an orientation session with the Devugees organisation. Devugees is an organisation that offers free training sessions for aspiring web developers, workshops with potential employers, and other tech instruction for refugees and other interested participants. A class of about 15 came to visit Dalia to explore what working in a Berlin tech startup might be like, and to introduce our work flow and which programming languages Dalia uses. In the session students were introduced to two of our developers, Valentin and Ronna, who shared their career experiences and answered the students’ questions.

Besides these, we’re excited to hear about the work of FrauenLoop and the Frauen Computer Zentrum Berlin (FCZB). FrauenLoop trains and mentors EU residents and immigrant women who want to enter the tech field and the FCZB promotes the vocational education of women with a focus on women with a migration background.

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Clearly, the issue of integration and embracing newcomers into German society requires far more work and coordination than just offering coding programs. For a summary outlook of the state of refugee integration in Germany, failures and successes alike, consider checking out this article in Der Spiegel. There’s a lot more work to be done, but the tech community’s support for refugees is one step, of many, in the right direction.

Dalia is excited to continue to learn how to interact with the refugee community and support tech development initiatives like the Devugees and the Tech Marktplatz. Do you have an initiative to help underrepresented groups enter the tech space? We’d love to hear about it and see how we can help! Shoot us a message and let us know.

 

Image by Simon Abrams