Integrating refugees into the labor market is a vital task for policy makers, businesses and society. As one of the largest employers in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region, Freudenberg is taking up this challenge and offering refugees the opportunity to participate in a dual vocational training course. On June 20, 2018, World Refugee Day, Head of Training Dr. Rainer Kuntz said: “Our goal is to provide refugees with sound vocational training, opening long-term prospects for them.” Since September 2017, five refugees have been taking part in a vocational training course in metalworking at Freudenberg and its associate Faber – financed by Freudenberg’s aid initiative for refugees. In the coming years, 12 to 15 refugees will start a training course.
Freudenberg has supported the integration of refugees with a donation of some three million euros. It all began as an aid campaign from September to late December 2015, when the company called on all employees, retirees and Partners to help in a global donation campaign. Freudenberg matched each donated euro with two more – thus tripling the amount. A total of over 1.6 million euros were collected for the refugee aid campaign. Freudenberg also donated another million euros for refugee integration in the subsequent years (until 2019). The Freudenberg Foundation, which has been committed to social projects for decades, received another half-a-million euros from the company for this specific purpose.
A further focus was on language skill training and other educational opportunities that pave the way for integration. Freudenberg has supported more than 70 projects so far – from local citizen initiatives to international cooperation. Freudenberg employees have been involved in projects throughout Germany.
Up to May 2017, Freudenberg, as part of a partnership with the Goethe Institute, supported German courses for young refugees whose asylum applications were still pending and thus had no right to government-sponsored courses. Freudenberg supports the development of teaching materials for refugees at all Goethe Institutes in Germany. Thus 229 volunteer language teachers – including many Freudenberg employees – received support for their work with refugees. In addition, 78 refugee children were granted access to 26 weeks of German courses at one of the Goethe Institutes in Germany.
Since February 2016, Freudenberg has supported the Wir zusammen (We together) initiative of German businesses. The joint actions are part of participating companies’ efforts to help integrate refugees into German society. The initiative is also designed to motivate other companies to join in.
Freudenberg also supports international aid organizations such as act!onaid, which helps refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos. The Red Cross in the Greek border village of Idomeni also received a donation for first aid assistance. Organizations receiving funding include Deutsche Welthungerhilfe (German World Food Aid) and MISERIOR, which provide aid in places such as Syria, Lebanon and Iraq.