"PROFI" Programme – Promoting Professional Integration of Academics with a Refugee Background in the German Labour Market

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The PROFI Programme offers foreign academics with a refugee background a fast track to earning a university degree or certificate at a German institution of higher education. The aim is to provide highly qualified refugees in Germany better chances to participate and integrate in the German labour market.

Background

In recent years the DAAD has established a number of successful programmes to facilitate integration of refugees into the German higher education system. With funding provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the DAAD launched a comprehensive package of measures in response to the high numbers of refugees entering Germany in 2015. The aim is to offer preparatory and supplementary courses to refugees who are academically qualified and willing to study so that they can commence or continue a degree programme at a German university. With the aid of accompanying measures, student refugees are given the skills and expertise to smoothly transition into the German labour market. Thanks to these programmes, numerous refugees have been able to gain a foothold in the German higher education sector.

A large number of refugees in Germany already hold university degrees from their home countries, and in some cases, corresponding professional experience. However, academically qualified refugees are frequently unable to find employment in Germany that matches their level of education. Instead, they are often forced to accept work which does not correspond to their professional qualification. The PROFI Programme, launched in 2019, is targeted at highly qualified refugees who have already earned a university degree in their home country, but have yet to find employment (including work opportunities suited to their academic level) in Germany. In the academic qualification programmes, participants not only gain supplementary professional expertise, but also receive personally tailored consultation and targeted preparation for entry into the German labour market. The qualification programmes conclude with the conferral of a recognised higher education certificate or a German university degree.

Programme Goals

The primary goal of the PROFI Programme is to increase the chances of academically qualified refugees to gain employment in Germany that matches their level of education. The measures are designed to take the participants’ previously acquired knowledge and qualifications into account with regard to academic achievement abroad, professional experience, language skills and biographical resources.

The measures are designed to provide participants with professional qualification by enabling them to earn a German university degree or higher education certificate after completing a shortened period of study, or have their existing professional qualification recognised. Accompanied by comprehensive academic counselling and support services, language instruction, cross-disciplinary, methodical training and measures for a successful transition management, the PROFI Programme offers across-the-board support at all levels.

In terms of its long-term and overarching goals, the programme aims to counteract what many have identified as a shortage of trained professionals in the German labour market. By helping this target group integrate into the professional world, the DAAD is promoting their social integration and participation in the long term. Furthermore, the funding allows universities to create international structures, strengthen equal opportunities in the increasingly diverse student community throughout Germany, and continue expanding their regional networks with (labour-market) relevant actors.

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