Germany needed care sector workers, so Cristina got on a plane
Cristina secured her apprenticeship with ‘Haus Margerita’, a specialist care service, where she provides expert support to people with mental health needs:
“My job is to care for those who need it most,” explains Cristina. “For example, I support service users at meal times and assist them with their physical health. More than that, I’m there to provide motivation and to create a sense of trust and security.”
The appeal of YfEJ was two fold. “First, being unemployed, I found it very hard to find a job at home in Spain. Plus, the offer of high quality work experience, combined with a chance to live abroad, really appealed to me... It was a dream come true.”
By applying for the position through YfEJ, Cristina had access to considerable support to prepare for her new life abroad.
“The programme not only helped me find a job that I love, it gave me some money to get settled too… I also receive weekly German language classes, all thanks to the project.”
Under the three-year apprenticeship, Cristina combines vocational education and training with practical work. This means she is acquiring the skills she needs to progress in her career, gaining new qualifications and earning a decent wage – all at the same time.
“I’m doing a kind of training that the Germans call ‘Ausbildung’. Effectively, I will work in the company for a month and then spend a month at school, then go back to work, and so on. This means that when I’m at work I’m putting into practice everything I’ve learned in class.”
In accepting the job at Haus Margerita, Cristina also played a part in reducing national personnel shortages, at a time when nearly two thirds of Germany’s care facilities were understaffed.
As the care home’s Director, Stefanie Goldwich, explains: “The health sector is steadily growing and skills shortage is unfortunately a serious problem in our region. Since we had more open vacancies than suitable applicants, we needed to ask the YfEJ programme for help.”
YfEJ swiftly helped to put Stefanie in touch with Cristina. “The YfEJ programme was really helpful with the whole organisation process; we only needed to signalise that we were interested in hiring an apprentice from abroad,” Stefanie says. “Of course, we submitted some hiring criteria… For instance, our potential employee needed to have an intermediate school-leaving certificate (‘Mittlere Reife’) and [have] completed training in the health sector.”
Once YfEJ had provided Cristina’s contact details, the recruitment process was very simple. Following some initial e-mail correspondence, Cristina came to meet Stefanie and her colleagues in person at the nursing home and, after she impressed in her interview, they decided to hire her.
The main challenge for Cristina has been the need to quickly get to grips with the German language, particularly when it comes to technical terms, and Stefanie admits that this put her in a “weaker starting position” than German apprentices. However, she says this has not created any barriers, since the work with patients “is mostly non-verbal and requires a lot of mimicry and gestures”.
Stefanie feels Cristina has been “a great help”, and Haus Margerita are offering her additional language training in German, focusing on specialist terminology.
For her part, Cristina is eager to encourage other young people to participate in the YfEJ programme:
“It’s a very good opportunity, very difficult too… but if you are skilled and motivated YfEJ will open doors. You will grow in confidence through living independently, managing your money, building friendships and adapting to life in another country… I will always be grateful for this wonderful opportunity.”
Your first EURES Job is a European Union job mobility scheme. To find out more about employment and training opportunities across the EU or to find employees with the skills you need, contact one of the scheme’s employment services or get in touch with your local EURES Adviser via the EURES portal.
Article written in partnership with EURES, the European Job Mobility Portal