The city of Berlin is facing big challenges in integrating refugees into the society in the upcoming years. 50.000 refugees are expected to come in 2015. The same number is expected for 2016. The most urgent issue is to provide accommodation and to save people from living in tents or on the street. When these issues are solved refugees should be offered perspectives for their learning and working life.

A majority of the refugees is living in collective refugee homes. They have to stay there until their application for asylum has been handled or even longer. A big number of refugees are young people looking for a perspective in the German labour market. They are motivated to study, to get qualified, to work. Their competences are needed on German labour market and should not be wasted. The gastronomy and hotel branches are looking for motivated young people as their future skilled workers. Companies offer places for internships, for initial vocational training and for employment. They want to participate in the integration of refugees and show social responsibility.

Description of the initiative

The main objective of the programme is to speed up refugee’s integration by connecting them with local companies in the Hospitality sector (Gastronomy and Hotel businesses) who are in need of work force.

The main elements:

  • Information about the different professions in the branch and about the German dual system of vocational training;
  • analysis of refugee’s experiences and competencies; German classes from A1 until B1;
  • in the same time internship in Kiezküchen GmbH training restaurants or in hotels or restaurants:
    • 3 days German classes
    • 2 days work experience;
  • when B1 level is reached: start with professional training (2-3 years) in a company of the branch;
  • Guidance during the first months of the professional training. During this process the participants need assistance in different questions of managing their daily life (e.g. guidance when they have a date with the immigration office, support in finding accommodation, medical issues, etc.)

Implementation of the initiative

Partners involved: Berlin wide hotels, restaurants, hostels, offering training and workplaces. Berlin Senate for Employment, Integration and Social Affairs, Employment Agency (Agentur für Arbeit), job centres, refugee organisations, NGOs.

The role of the project is to find individual solutions for the refugees on their way into working life. The support is needed in terms of getting the work permission resp. the permission for vocational training in a company. This requires networking and “translation” between the official public services such as the immigration office (Ausländerbehörde) or employment agency. On the other hand the companies do also ask for longer term guidance when refugees started to work. They have questions concerning the language and cultural barriers. As the branch is already very international the project asks responsible employees of hotels or restaurants to become “intercultural translators”.

The employer’s federation of the branch (DEHOGA) is supporting and promoting the project in their network.

Resources dedicated to the initiative

Financial sources

Budget dedicated to the project or programme: 147.000 €

Main financial source: Senate of Berlin (Senatsverwaltung für Arbeit, Integration und Soziales)

Human resources dedicated to the initiative

5 equivalent full time

Other resources dedicated to the initiative


Number of refugees reached by the initiative: 53

50 places are provided for the first period until December 2015. Until now the project gathered 53 participants and a waiting list for new participants. The participants are following German classes starting with the levels A1, A2 during three days a week. Two days per week are spent in companies in order to get the first experiences in daily working life and to learn the specific vocabulary of the branch.

Critical success factors

The project is an answer to the need of professional integration of refugees coming to Berlin. Until now it has been a success which can be measured by interviews among the participants and he companies. The demand amongst the refugees is very high. And also the companies are anxious to offer places for refugees. The project works because it fits to the needs of the refugees on one hand and on the other hand it also provides working force to the companies.

Biggest obstacles

The main obstacles faced is the language barrier and the insecure situation of a lot of refugees, who don’t know when and if their asylum application will be approved.

The programme should be extended to other branches (a similar one exists already for handicraft) and should provide more places.

Starting date

01 August 2015

The organisation

Kiezküchen GmbH is a private non profit company offering initial vocational trainings for youth, qualification to fulfil the prerequisites of initial trainings, further training and education, employment and qualification for the unemployed.
Kiezküchen GmbH’s clients are governmental organizations, municipal institutions, and businesses.