Once professors, now refugees

A Viennese social enterprise has decided to bet on the talent and knowledge that many refugees have brought to Austrian society by bringing them into the business world.

Christine Tragler
Christine Tragler Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Once professors, now refugees - NewsMavens
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Why this story matters:

The wave of refugees arriving in 2015 was a wake-up call for the creators of the Viennese start-up More than One Perspective (MTOP). At that time, basic care and German courses were offered to newcomers in Austria, but there was no initiative that took into account the fact that many were highly-qualified professionals.

Founders Lisa-Maria Sommer (26), Nina Poxleitner (30) and Julian Richter (31) knew that when parents fail to integrate, the failure passes on their children: "[When working in schools,] we taught classes in which almost no children had German as their mother tongue," says Sommer.

"It was not just the first generation of immigrants, but often the second and third, and we realized that when the integration of the parents did not work, all the negative consequences are passed on to the children. That was when we went into the field of integration."

Feedback from companies was "consistently positive".

Additionally, successful placements then act as ambassadors and connections for new refugees seeking entry into the job market.

In Sommer's eyes, most refugees have complex experiences paired with a unique perspective and high levels of motivation. "For the refugees, it's not just a job, but a new life opportunity," she says. With 80% of their former mentees now securely employed, the start-up has undoubtedly changed lives for the better.

Details from the story:

  • The Viennese start-up company More than One Perspective (MTOP) prepares refugees who were trained academics in their home countries to enter the Austrian labor market.
  • The training program MTOP Associate prepares people with refugee status for a six- month traineeship on the job market.
  • In 200 hours, their core compentences are assessed and they are advised on how to fit into the Austrian labor market. Successful graduates are then matched with companies according to their profile.
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