Refugees engineer a new future at Siemens

Siemens offers pre-classes and internships for newly arrived refugees that facilitate their integration and prepare for the German labor market.
Jobs & Livelihoods

Refugees engineer a new future at Siemens

Siemens offers pre-classes and internships for newly arrived refugees that facilitate their integration and prepare for the German labor market.

Contact details 

Submitted by: Thomas Leubner, Global Head of Learning & Education at Siemens 

Email: [email protected]  

Website: Siemens introduces sustainable program for integrating refugees

Read about three people, three fates, three ways of life here.


LinkedIn: Refugees bring benefits for businesses – and some important responsibilities


Introduction to the project 




2015 first pilot internship program.

2016 roll-out and extension of the whole program. 

This initiative will be renewed yearly. 


Internships for refugees 

This project seeks to integrate refugees and asylum seekers in the company and labor market over a three-month internship orientation program. Since 2016 over 330 internships were realized at 23 Siemens locations. 

This program is aimed at refugees who already have a pre-qualification. The acquisition of practical knowledge and experience is in the foreground in order to prepare the refugees for the German labor market. Everyone in the internship is assigned a mentor from the very beginning as part of a ‘buddy system’. It gives them someone to talk to and offers them guidance throughout the program. 

Pre-classes for refugees  

Siemens runs pre-classes at five locations with 6 classes and almost 100 refugees p.a. in Germany which sums up to 350 participants in total. The aim of the 6-month special education classes is to lay a solid foundation for a successful start in education and later professional life.  

The course usually runs for 6 months and, besides teaching the technical basics, also includes intensive language training as well as sporting activities to foster social integration. The aim is to help the candidates to be ready for an apprenticeship and to recruit suitable candidates for an apprenticeship out of these pre-classes.   

Meet the refugee engineering a new future 

Filmon Debru is one of the 330 new starters on the Siemens Internship for Refugees Program, launched 2016 as part of Germany’s commitment to settling and integrating the thousands of displaced people. Filmon fled Eritrea after being subjected to over three years of enforced military service. Getting there, to a new life in Munich, has taken him years and it’s a journey that was soberingly brutal in parts. Finding work has been crucial to becoming integrated in a new country.

Project aims 

Siemens runs a sustainable program for integrating refugees. 

Resources used 

  • Company provides practical support and donations totaling around €2 million.
  • Paid leave of up to five days a year for voluntary helpers with certain qualifications. 
  • Internships to be offered at additional locations. 
  • Establishment of pre-classes for refugees.  
  • Further facilities to be made available for enabling municipalities to provide accommodations to refugees.


  • Employment Agencies and Job Centers 
  • Local networks and partners (e.g. local societies, NPOs – refugee help organizations, municipality, schools, educational institutions  
  • Siemens & Healthineers Employees 

Challenges and how they were overcome 


  • Legal uncertainty (e.g. especially during the asylum process).
  • Cultural differences (e.g. habits, attitudes). 
  • Low language skills.
  • Recognition of education. 
  • Residence Obligation / Restrictions for refugees.

How they were overcome:

  • Engagement of our (HR)Resources and Siemens Employees 
  • Establishment of standard processes (e.g. for contracts) 

Results of the Good Practice

  • Developing of competences and upskilling (e.g. language, professional skills).
  • Preparation for an apprenticeship.
  • Sustainable and early integration into the society & labour market.
  • 330 internships and 350 seats in pre-classes.

Next steps 

Needs-oriented further development of the program.