Kolping Bildungswerk: Preparing for an apprenticeship as car mechanic  

April 2017. In Leverkusen-Opladen, employees of the Kolping-Bildungswerk help young refugees prepare for and find a job or apprenticeship in Germany. They offer German lessons, tutor the refugees in maths and other topics and arrange internships. At the moment seven young men between the age of 19 and 23 are completing internships or are about to start an apprenticeship or vocational training program. They are using Google Chromebooks from Kolping-Bildungswerk Diözesanverband Köln e.V., which were donated as part of NetHope's Project Reconnect. The Chromebooks help young refugees work towards their goal - a job in Germany. 

Heinz Kappertz and Peter Brenner are employees of the Kolping-Werkstatt in Leverkusen-Opladen and accompany the seven young refugees on their way in the German labor market. They proudly share the story of Daham, a young Iraqi who successfully landed an apprenticeship as a car mechanic. 

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In December 2016, Daham received the opportunity to complete an internship at KFZ Schmidt, a small car repair shop, as part of the so called “initial qualification phase”. The objective of these six to twelve months long internships is to introduce participating companies to potential candidates for multi-year apprenticeships. Daham had already taken part in a language course and was able to communicate in basic German. However, it quickly became clear that Daham’s knowledge of the German language was not yet sufficient to succeed in an apprenticeship. Especially free speech was difficult for him. 

The Chromebook, that Daham was allowed to borrow, provided him the opportunity to intensify his language studies and improve and practice his language skills. At first, the use of the Chromebook was difficult for him. He was comfortable using a smartphone, but the use of a computer with keyboard was not familiar to him. After some training and practice, he now uses the Chromebook not only to study maths and German, but also to prepare for his written driving test. 

Together with a tutor, Daham searched within the Internet course "Ich-will-Deutsch-lernen.de", www.iwdl.de, and found online exercises on "Speaking and phonetics". Regular practice helped him overcome his insecurity and become comfortable with free speech. In addition, Daham uses the Chromebook to improve other skills, such as listening and reading comprehension and writing. 

Daham, like many other refugees, visited school irregularly and only for a short time. He had to catch up in a lot of subject areas. Mathematics for example is an important subject for someone planning a career as a car mechanic. Every Wednesday, Daham attends a vocational school to take lessons in maths and then practices online to get ahead quickly. 

"I would very much like to stay in Germany and have a job," says Daham. "The Chromebook helps me a lot because I can study at home." In particular, the constant conversation practice has been worth the effort. Daham's conversation skills have improved significantly.  The team at KFZ Schmidt agrees. This summer, Daham starts his apprenticeship as a car mechanic at KFZ Schmidt. He has already signed the contract.