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22.1. Short description

Although immigration rates in Germany have constantly been high for decades, many immigrants face problems with integration into social and economic life. In particular, refugees are confronted with a rather restrictive legislation regarding residence and work permissions. Without a residence permit it is hard to get a job and many employers do not want to hire refugees because of bureaucratic hurdles and uncertain future perspectives. On the other hand, for some groups there is no chance to obtain a long-term residence permit without proof of employment and independence of social assistance. Obviously, refugees need special support and consultancy for labour market integration (cf. Fiebiger et al. 2009).

As an inter-sectoral network, MAMBA3 addresses this issue with a “one-stop” concept: its main tasks are to counsel and qualify immigrants as well as to find employers willing to offer them jobs. The network comprises five partners from the non-profit, for-profit and public sector. The concept for MAMBA was originally developed in 2008 by the local organisation Association for Refugee Relief (GGUA, Gemeinnützige Gesellschaft zur Unterstützung Asylsuchender e.V.), which is considered one of the most experienced organisations in this field in Germany. As of early 2012, MAMBA has provided work to more than 200 people and in addition to that, apprenticeships for young participants. In total, MAMBA had around 300 participants at the time. For the duration of the second allowance period (Nov. 2010 – Dec. 2013), the programme was expanded to include further towns in the region of Münsterland where the GGUA now offers advisory services once a week. Moreover, it serves as a blue print for several similar initiatives all over Germany. Conceptions of and ways of addressing users is open to immigrants both with and without a permanent residence permit. One of the programme’s main qualities is that the GGUA is widely known and well reputed among the target group. Refugees are more comfortable addressing a local NGO to seek work than accessing a public institution such as the Jobcenter, as the interviews with MAMBA employees indicate. The counsellors speak several languages and have intercultural skills. Moreover, they are familiar with the special legal situation of refugees, which is rarely the case in public agencies. Therefore, MAMBA compensates for the deficits of public administration.

MAMBA follows a voluntary and empowering approach. All stakeholders within the network (refugees, organisations, employers) work together as partners. The network offers a wide range of services to its participants – even after they have found a job. Those who do not have sufficient language skills in German can participate in special language courses. Moreover, participants can join computer courses or other kinds of training programmes in order to improve their competences for the labour market.

Within the MAMBA project, refugees are considered as being able to contribute to the local labour market. During a first information session at the GGUA, they can indicate their preferences and qualifications concerning a potential employment. GGUA’s coaches try to build on the special resources and competences of MAMBA participants in order to find the right job for each person. They furthermore help participants to cope with administrative procedures involving their residence and work permits. Subsequently, participants get in touch with one of the partner organisations that provide contacts to potential employers and offer vocational training. As the interviews indicate, employers are interested in the MAMBA project as they consider participants highly motivated for most kinds of jobs as well as for temporary work. This motivation does not only stem from financial reasons. In fact, employment can lead to improvements in their residence status. This applies especially to the group of several hundred Roma refugees from Kosovo, many of whom have been living in Münster for more than a decade without regular residence permits.

22.2. Internal organisation and modes of working

Currently, 14 employees of the five partner organisations work for MAMBA (most of them 19-30 hours per week). While GGUA is an independent non-profit organisation, training and vocational education programmes are offered by the Society for Promotion and Education (GEBA, Gesellschaft für Berufsförderung und Ausbildung), a for-profit organisation, and the Centre for Youth Education (JAZ, Jugendausbildungszentrum), a non-profit enterprise belonging to the catholic charity organisation Caritas. Contacts to employers and job-related counselling are provided by the Educational Centre of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (HBZ, Handwerkskammer-Bildungszentrum) and the Jobcenter, a municipal public institution. The network efficiently links different competences: whereas the GGUA has good access to the target group, the other institutions are familiar with Münster’s labour market and have contacts to local enterprises. A team meeting involving all concerned personnel within the organisations is scheduled once a month. In order to facilitate cooperation, all employees share the same computer software, which provides them with data concerning participants.

When the project started, the GGUA provided special training sessions for employees in the public administration offices in order to strengthen intercultural skills as well as improve their knowledge concerning the legal situation of refugees in Germany. It may be considered a positive side effect that through MAMBA the local administration became more acquainted with immigration issues and acquired special knowledge as to how to deal with them. Through this development, at least a partial sustainability and legacy of MAMBA beyond the actual duration of the project has been established.

22.3. Interaction with the local welfare system

MAMBA receives multilevel funding from several institutions. The largest share is provided by the European Social Fund whereas the city of Münster has contributed few resources on an ad hoc basis according to requirements. However, funding by the EU and the federal government is limited to the end of the year 2013. As such, it is not assured that the network will subsist after 2013. Nevertheless, many local stakeholders see MAMBA as a big success and a flagship project. The success of the project in terms of the number of participants and the percentage placed in paid labour is established in internal evaluations of the project as well as those of the federal programme (Mirbach et al. 2012; Mirbach and Schobert 2011). MAMBA is in line with Münster’s local discourse. Strengthening the employability of individuals follows the main paradigmatic lines of Münster’s welfare system outlined in the introduction. Furthermore, it fits into the local welfare discourse and can be seen as one way of promoting the image of Münster as an integrative and liberal-minded city.

In Münster there is a broad consensus across all parties not to carry out controversies on refugee policy in public. Therefore, in 2009 a resolution was passed unanimously by the city council to stop deportations of Roma to Kosovo. However, there is still no political consensus on a general right of residence for this group on the level of federal and regional legislation, so labour market integration is crucial to reach a more permanent status. With respect to this situation, MAMBAs political dimension can be evaluated as extending far beyond an innovative approach in labour market integration.

MAMBA’s modus operandi positively promotes the concept of public private partnerships, or inter-sector networks. According to a representative of the social department of the municipal administration, MAMBA also had an impact on Münster’s 2010 decision to apply to be an “Optionskommune” (see below). This model provides the local level with additional responsibilities in local labour market policy, especially in regards to the long-term unemployed. The liberties of the city within this model to decide upon funding received by the federal level for labour market integration may both further the development of similar networks for other “difficult” groups on the labour market as well as help in sustaining the MAMBA network.

Concerning the question of diffusion, MAMBA is already applied in different cities in Germany. As long as funding is guaranteed and there is an interest of local stakeholders to promote labour market participation of refugees, the project can easily be transferred. It might also be transferred to other target groups (e.g. other immigrant groups or unemployed young people) if there are institutional structures (i.e. partner organisations already working with the intended target groups) to which the project can be connected.


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