Stay or leave? How the right advice is helping people build a future for themselves

Should they stay in their home countries, return home from abroad or migrate to Germany? Migration advisory centres in Kosovo, Albania, Serbia and Tunisia provide young people in particular with information about work and training opportunities – giving them a new sense of direction.  

In many developing countries and emerging economies, the situation on the job market is tense. A poor economic situation, high unemployment and inadequate vocational training systems are hampering people's future prospects, especially young people. Many see migration as the only way out – also because most of them are not aware of the training and work opportunities they actually already have at home.

Tens of thousands of young people from the Balkan States and the Maghreb are drawn to West Europe in their search for a better future – and Germany is often their favoured destination. But it is not easy to succeed here. Anyone who comes via irregular channels has virtually no chance of being allowed to stay. And to get a work permit, people generally need to speak the language. However, in their home countries, they often lack sufficient access to information about official entry requirements.

And this is where migration advisory centres offer assistance. They are operated by the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM) – a joint initiative by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the German Federal Employment Agency’s International Placement Office (ZAV/BA). On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), CIM in collaboration with national employment agencies is currently operating four centres of this kind, in Serbia, Albania, Kosovo and Tunisia although others are in the pipeline. At these centres, people can access customised advice on job and training opportunities in their country of origin and in Germany, too. Most of all, people are keen to find out about the options they have at home. 'The majority of young people who come here seeking advice actually want to stay in their own country,' says Alexander Seidl, Regional Coordinator in the Western Balkans for the migration advisory centres. 'Provided they have a future here.'

More than just advice: Employment contract thanks to a job fair

These information centres are also an important source of advice for people who have already spent time working in Germany or another European country but who now wish to find a good job back home again. In 2016, Germany alone saw almost 14,000 Albanians return back to their home. Thanks to their experience abroad and their language skills, these returnees are very popular with potential employers – they simply have to find out about each other.

And that's where German information centres comes in. Together with ZAV/BA, the centres organise job and career fairs where employers can recruit skilled workers and trainees. In May 2016, for example, some 1,200 vacancies were on offer on one single day at a fair in Pristina which was organised by one of the local centres. The event was a great success, with 430 people being able to sign a job contract on the spot.

To assist the local employment agencies to better coordinate supply and demand, the centres also advise on the professionalization of careers and training guidance services. In rural areas especially, this often proves a challenge. In cooperation with employment agencies and vocational schools, the centres organise Information Days on site. Mobile teams of advisers put on smaller-scale information events in remote regions. On market squares or in youth centres, they talk to jobseekers about the opportunities that await them.


Last update: March 2017

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Ralf Sanftenberg
ralf.sanftenberg@giz.de