Hachem Chaabene is one of 100 selected Tunisian experts looking for opportunities on the German labour market. With success: The young construction engineer is currently working for MEA Water Management GmbH in Germany. The company develops and manufactures drainage systems, and Chaabene is a valuable link with customers in the Arab world. GIZ is implementing this project with Tunisian engineers on behalf of the German Federal Foreign Office and in cooperation with ZAV, the International Placement Services arm of Germany’s Federal Employment Agency.
I come from a small town in North-Western Tunisia and I actually left home at 15, to go to boarding school. Then I moved to Tunis when I went to university, so coming to Germany wasn’t so hard. The internet has made the world a lot smaller, and I use Skype to stay in touch with my family. In any case, if I ever get homesick, I can always get on a plane and fly back to Tunisia.
Germany has a strong economy and it needs engineers – including construction engineers. There are good employment opportunities here, and the standard of construction engineering is very high. When I saw the GIZ advertisement and heard about this pilot project, I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity for me to create a more international profile. I could learn German, benefit from German infrastructure, broaden my technical skills and, if all went well, find a job.
I started with an intensive German course. I was a complete beginner, but I’ve achieved a good level in just six months. We’ve also has intercultural training to prepare us for living and working in Germany: it covered things like time management and conflict resolution, how to plan our work and manage our relationships with our colleagues, and the whole German mind-set. I moved to Augsburg to take up the placement at MEA Water Management. I really like it here: people are friendly, and I’ve made a lot of contacts.
I’d like to stay in Germany. I speak Arabic, so I could be useful to companies wanting to sell their products in North Africa or the Gulf states. MEA Water Management also has good business relationships with Tunisia, so working for them as a project manager here would mean I could also work for my home country. Later, I’d like to set up my own engineering consultancy.