Inspiring Approaches

PotsdamProject 'Spurwechsel' – Integration into the labour market of refugees with tolerated status

What is inspiring?

The aim of the 'Spurwechsel' model project is to offer prospects to refugees living in Potsdam who have been tolerated for many years and who cannot be deported to their countries of origin in the foreseeable future, and at the same time to address the existing shortage of workers on the Potsdam labour market. In addition to the opportunity to take up paid work or start training, the participants have the chance to pass from the status of 'tolerated' to a secure residence status if they successfully learn the German language and are integrated into the labour market at the same time.

Who initiated the project? How?

The model project was initiated by the Brandenburg Integration Ministry. It is to be tested under municipal sponsorship at various locations in Brandenburg. In spring 2023, the state capital Potsdam became the first municipality in Brandenburg to declare its willingness to implement the model project for tolerated refugees.

How does it operate?

Following the decision by the state capital of Potsdam to initiate the project, local coordination with other partners, such as training and qualification providers, the Federal Employment Agency, companies, providers of integration services and language courses, as well as welcome initiatives, will follow. There are currently 685 tolerated refugees living in Potsdam, around 300 of whom are eligible for the 'Spurwechsel' model project because they have already been living in Potsdam for several years. The main components of the project are both the language qualification of the participants and the support of the employment agency in placing the participants with employers in their search for employees. A concrete concept in which the details are described and coordinated between Potsdam, the state of Brandenburg and the Federal Employment Agency should be available in summer 2023. Potsdam will be in charge of developing it.

What is the outcome?

Refugees who have been tolerated for many years will be provided with targeted support and placed in employment more quickly so that they have the opportunity to live independently outside of communal facilities. This will relieve the burden on municipalities and social systems and at the same time address the existing labour shortage on Potsdam's labour market. Brandenburg's Integration Minister Ursula Nonnemacher says: "We need permanent immigration in order to be able to cope with the major social and labour policy challenges posed by demographic change. The question of integration offers must therefore not always play a temporary role in the face of crisis-related refugee movements, but must finally be understood as a permanent task."

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