Success through Diversity
Located in Harzgerode in Germany's Harz Mountains, KS ATAG TRIMET Guss GmbH has been officially commended for its energetic recruitment of international skilled labour. Hartmut Galenski, the company's head of production, and Frank Wenzel, head of training, received the prize in Berlin on 16 June from Iris Gleicke, the federal government's commissioner for small and medium-sized business and parliamentary state secretary in the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy.
Despite its natural beauty, the Harz region has been hit hard by demographic change. The decline in population and the departure of young people for western Germany have been particularly severe here. As a result, local companies face an acute shortage of potential apprentices and skilled labour. At the same time, young people in southern Europe now find it very difficult to find proper job training.
Well aware of this situation, the Harz-based company launched an initiative in 2013 to offer young people from southern Europe a chance and convince them to move to the Harz for training. It received support from Germany's Centre for International Migration and Development as well as the special Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Employment Agency. The initiative promotes mobility of young people seeking vocational training and of young unemployed skilled workers from around Europe.
This is exactly the approach the Federal Ministry of Economics is pursuing in its "Success through Diversity" competition, which aims to create a welcoming atmosphere. The competition pays tribute to companies that successfully recruit foreign skilled workers and thus encourage other firms to follow suit.
"We consider integrating foreign skilled workers and young people who want to learn a trade under our dual system to be very important", says Hartmut Galenski. "During the course of the project, we've also worked to boost community acceptance for integrating young foreigners. This is why we've made a point of getting local government and the relevant authorities in on the act. We've received support from the chief executive of the Harz district, for example, and from the mayor of Harzgerode, the Economic Development Office, the Chamber of Commerce, and Magdeburg Polytechnic, among others", explains Galenski.
The company, a subsidiary of international automotive parts maker KSPG and thus part of the Rheinmetall Group, also provided financial support upfront, as these young recruits were unable to afford the cost of travel and accommodation. This is why KS ATAG TRIMET Guss began the project with a local visit. The idea was to conduct initial screening and especially to build up the confidence of the young people involved, encouraging them to take the plunge and move to a strange country. The success of this venture vindicates the company's decision: the project is set to continue.