Recognised and truly arrived – Tarek Khouli now works as an industrial mechanic and is fully integrated into his company. After fleeing Syria, he is now also very much at home in Germany in his private life.
In 2015, the war in his home country of Syria forced Tarek Khouli to flee to Germany. He finally ended up in the Rhineland near Bonn. Once he had arrived, he had three major worries. How will I get my bearings in this foreign country? How can I learn the language? How can I integrate occupationally?
The top priority was to find work. After all, Tarek Khouli had already completed training in the area of mechanical production in his home country. If things did not work out, his intention was to undergo new training in Germany. “That certainly wouldn’t have been the wrong approach, also in terms of learning the technical language I need,” admits Tarek. “But I had trained in Syria and I had the knowledge. To have repeated everything would have been very time-consuming. It would also have been more difficult financially.”
What 24-year-old Tarek Khouli did not know was that it was possible to have his occupation recognised in Germany. He received this crucial information from the Caritas Association (Caritasverband Rhein-Sieg e. V.), where he completed German courses and achieved level B2. A member of staff advised him to find out about his occupational opportunities by contacting LerNet Bonn/Rhein-Sieg e. V. in Bonn, a counselling centre for the recognition of foreign vocational skills which forms part of the IQ Network North Rhine-Westphalia. This was an extremely valuable tip for Tarek Khouli. “I learned for the first time about the possibility of vocational recognition.” Together with Dirk Frankenberger from the Rheinbach Refugee Assistance Group, who had been providing support for everyday tasks and help with dealing with authorities and the application process, Tarek got in touch with the IHK Bonn/Rhein-Sieg.
A telephone call with an advisor from the chamber of commerce and industry quickly provided clarification as to which documents were necessary in order to submit an application for recognition. The ongoing war in Syria made this documentation difficult and dangerous to procure. However, Tarek’s father succeeded in getting hold of the right paperwork. Once the chamber of commerce and industry had collated the documents and carried out their initial checks, Tarek Khouli submitted an application for recognition to the IHK FOSA, the competent authority, in April 2017. Only two months later, he was the proud recipient of a notice attesting full recognition. “It was great to get this certificate. It confirms that what I learned in Syria has been recognised. This gives me a sense of self-worth.”
The next step was to prepare some job applications. Tarek Khouli was very keen to get back into work. 15 applications led to several interviews and two offers. He ultimately opted to join the company Werner Vakuumsauger GmbH from Meckenheim in the Rhein-Sieg District, which specialises in the manufacture of moulded rubber parts and vacuum cups.
Udo Werner, who was later to become his boss, had close links with Dirk Frankenberger and the Rheinbach Refugee Assistance Group and was open to receiving a job application from Tarek. “Irrespective of the recognition document, I gained the impression that Mr. Khouli is someone who wants to work, and this appealed to me. He is now well integrated into the company and is able to take on responsibility. I am very satisfied.” Dirk Frankenberger is similarly enamoured of the commitment his protégé has shown. “Tarek was full of drive and ambition from the word go. This was enormously important and enabled me to provide him with the best possible support.” Tarek Khouli has made it, and he is now a happy man. “I feel very much at home and I enjoy my work. The company is like a small family.”
Photo: © Portal “Recognition in Germany”/BIBB: Robert Funke
The interview with Tarek Khouli was conducted in March 2018. He was advised and supported in the recognition procedure by LerNet Bonn/Rhein-Sieg e. V.ihn , part of the IQ Network North Rhine-Westphalia, by the Bonn/Rhein-Sieg Chamber of Commerce and Industry and by the IHK FOSA. He also received a considerable amount of help from the Rheinbach Refugee Assistance Group.
When he arrived in Germany in 2005, the Recognition Act did not exist. He was not able to have his Croatian training as plant mechanic for sanitary, heating and air conditioning systems or his status as master craftsman recognised. He therefore worked at a level beneath his qualification for a long time.