On 19February 2018, a specialist recruitment company celebrated a double milestone − having placed 400 Spanish workers in skilled jobs across Germany over a five year period.
POD (People of Diversity) GmbH works with EURES and small businesses to find, select and integrate Spanish jobseekers into German construction roles. Considering the company now recruits dozens of candidates each month, it is hard to believe that it all began with a simple ten-minute conversation.
“In Autumn 2012 I walked into an employment agency in Valencia and asked to speak to the EURES representative” explains POD’s Managing Partner, Stephan Behringer. “I described our needs and they talked me through the process of posting vacancies on the portal through my local EURES office in Germany. They also put me in touch with Spain’s regional EURES branches who help us advertise our vacancies in local job centres across the country.”
The following year, in February, POD successfully placed its very first EURES worker, marking the beginning of the company’s long-term involvement with the network. Stephan remembers him well:
“When Carlos contacted us, he was unemployed and keen to find permanent work. It was a big step for him to move to Germany as he had never been abroad before, let alone worked in another country. So, as with all our candidates, language and cultural preparation were essential. After that he was ready to start work as a plumber in a small family firm.”
POD owes its success to nurturing recruits to make this transition. Before each candidate sets foot in Germany, they must complete an intensive language and cultural course. In preparing candidates, Stephan emphasises the need to allay natural fears about settling into life abroad. To do so, his team developed extensive video guides by beneficiaries, explaining their direct experience of learning a new language, familiarising themselves with German regulations, finding accommodation and so forth.
“Our approach is to show candidates how people just like them have adapted to life in Germany and thrived in their careers. As soon as they see that their peers have done it, they realise that they can do it too. I especially welcome recent changes to EURES, which mean some funding available through some specific schemes can now be used for this training.”
Moreover, participants’ language and cultural preparation is never generic. POD works closely with training partners across Spain, such as Ellen Braun of ELCLA language academy in Pego, near Alicante.
“We provide 3 month intensive cultural and linguistic preparation for many POD recruits,” says Ellen. “This has to be tailored to each person’s needs. POD colleagues always brief me on each candidate’s position, their language level so on and we focus the course on those specific needs. What’s more, many of the candidates are young, so we run the centre a bit like a place of employment. Learners are with us for three months and they are expected to be punctual and complete a lot of homework. This gets them into the right mind-set for working in Germany.”
Of course, employers take on a big commitment when recruiting workers from abroad too. The POD team places special importance on working with its clients (mainly small businesses and family firms) to ensure they get the very best out of EURES and understand their roles and responsibilities.
“Our clients are well aware that we’re not providing them with temporary workers. We advise that it generally takes about a year to train an individual to the required level, and about the same amount of time before they are fully fluent in German. They are happy to be involved because they know the employee is likely to stay with them for many years. For them, it’s a long-term investment.”
POD has had no difficulty in finding employers who are willing to provide high quality jobs with training and support to EURES recruits. Many of those who approach the company have recently won construction contracts associated with large building or restoration projects. This means that they have to expand in a short space of time.
“In Germany there are very few young people who have acquired the skills or want to apply for construction related employment in plumbing, heating, electrical installation, air conditioning and so on. These are great jobs and they’re becoming increasingly skilled due to technological change. Using the network we have built through EURES, our clients now have a steady supply of qualified candidates who are looking to specialise with an employer over a larger number of years.”
This story is certainly true of Jose Antonio, a plumber, who the POD team believe may very well be their 400th recruit (it is hard to be precise, with multiple individuals starting work simultaneously).
“In Spain there is a lot of unemployment and low pay,” he explains. “So I searched online and found a plumbing job in Germany through the EURES portal…Of course, I’m nervous about it, but it’s a very good, permanent, opportunity and a chance for me to learn a new language in a new country.”
Just like Carlos, 399 candidates before him, Jose Antonio spoke no German before accessing EURES and, as someone who is currently unemployed, he welcomes the financial and practical support he has received.
POD’s success now poses something of a dilemma for Stephan and his colleagues. What next? The company has been considering whether to expand its recruitment operations into other EURES countries or to stay focussed on Spain alone.
“We thought about entering Eastern Europe, but that would require us to start over in each country. On balance, we decided to grow our activities in Spain instead, as we have such a deep network now. This means increasing our regional reach further and extending the variety of profiles we recruit. For example, in addition to the construction sector jobs, which will continue to be our main focus, we’re now working with employers to source different professionals – for example, mechanics, engineers and other academic professionals.”
POD is also trying out a wider variety of EURES opportunities. The company already posts jobs on the EURES portal via the local EURES office and sources candidates with support from Your first EURES Job (YfEJ). However, Stephan has just heard about the new Reactivate scheme and has recently started to apply for that too. Reactivate provides EURES career opportunities in participating countries to candidates over the age of 35.
For now, the company is celebrating, having exceeded 400 EURES appointments almost five years to the day, since Carlos clocked in for his first shift at a small Palatine plumbing firm on 19 February 2013.
Stephan Behringer would like to acknowledge the contribution of the following colleagues from EURES Germany and EURES Spain, who have supported POD in recruiting candidates:Rita Mager and Marina Weigand,(EURES Germany/Agentur für Arbeit Würzburg); Carlos Palomo (Malaga); Diego Moliner and Julia Roca (Valencia); Carlos Pastor (Alicante), Isabel Garcia (Castellón); Rosario Sanmartín Alcaraz (Murcia); Yolanda Delgado Lazaro and Francisca Fuentes (Madrid); Cesar Martin and Araceli Carillo Urena (Seville); Jesús Caparrós Martín (Almeria); Arnau Soy Massoni (Girona); José Luis Gredilla Illera (Barcelona); Dionisio Manuel Acebal Minano (Albacete).
POD website: www.pod-personalberatung.de
POD YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/PODpersonalberatung
ELCLA Language Academy: www.elcla.es
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- Publication date
- 14 February 2018
- European Labour Authority | Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion
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