Porsche offers auto training to refugees
AMMAR Alkhouli dreamed of owning a Porsche when he lived in Syria but never imagined that he would one day get training from the German firm to help build its luxury cars.
Aged 19, he was one of 13 asylum seekers to be offered a place on a refugee integration scheme launched by the company in March, in response to the massive influx of refugees to Germany last year.
Porsche aimed to "show the welcoming German culture and allow people to establish themselves as well and as quickly as possible", technical training director Norbert Goeggerle said.
In this first year, there were around 100 candidates for the five-month course.
Participants, from Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria and aged 16 to 38, were each paid a monthly stipend of 250 euros (S$377).
Now, Mr Ammar has secured a three-year apprenticeship as a mechatronics technician, a job where "you can dismantle and reassemble the engine".
Porsche, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, is a sought-after employer even among Germans. It is well-known for paying generous bonuses - which this year amounted to more than 8,000 euros per person.
Most of the refugees spoke very little German at the beginning of their five-month course.
But Mr Goeggerle was impressed by their "extremely strong motivation".
"We explained to them that the idea was not to offer them a job at Porsche but they said to themselves, 'If I give it my all, it might work out', and we noticed that," he said.
In fact, most of the 13 participants will stay at Porsche for multidisciplinary training, apprenticeships or even a full job offer on the production line.