Apprentice Amadou Bah: From refugee to career starter
Apprenticeship at thyssenkrupp | Engagement | People at thyssenkrupp | In 2016, Amadou Bah started an internship at thyssenkrupp. Three years later, he is about to complete his apprenticeship. Heinz-Joachim Klose, Head of Training in Siegen, has nothing but praise for his mentee, who once came to Germany as a refugee from Guinea. Today, Amadou Bah pulls the strings for a successful future himself.
During our second interview with Heinz-Joachim Klose, we want to know whether his trainee is still as punctual as when we talked for the first time. The Head of thyssenkrupp’s Technical Center for Apprenticeship in Siegen, Germany, has no need to think twice about the answer: “Nothing has changed. He is still one of the most punctual colleagues.”
He – is Amadou Bah. With training manager Klose, we already talked about him and his non-stop punctuality three years ago: In 2016, the then 23-year-old had just completed his first weeks at thyssenkrupp – and chose to arrive 45 minutes early every day rather than two minutes late.
Amadou Bah: Refugee from Guinea, showcase talent in Germany
In 2013, Amadou fled from the military dictatorship in his native Guinea. Serious crime, riots and roadblocks were normal life in his small home village at that time – and still are. Amadou left the West African country, came to Germany via Portugal and built up a new existence in the west-German city of Siegen. Together with two young men from Kosovo, he was one of the first refugees to join thyssenkrupp via an internship.
Amadou Bah has proven talent, motivation and discipline – and is now in his third year of training as an industrial mechanic at thyssenkrupp. His mentor Heinz-Joachim Klose speaks of Amadou’s career with a smile on his face. “He has developed very well. Be it linguistic, in terms of his perceptive abilities or his willingness to ask the right questions when something is unclear.”
Career start in the new home country
Amadou himself is very happy, too: “I really like the training and the company. Mounting and dismounting bearings, repair work – these are the tasks I particularly like,” he says. In December, he will take his theoretical exam. At the beginning of January, the practical test follows. If all goes well, Amadou can soon look back on 2020 as the year in which he achieved his career breakthrough.
He still sees Germany and the city of Siegen as his personal center of life: “The culture in Siegen is great, the people too. When problems arise, they are always ready to help – I get on very well with everyone. The city has become my home. That’s why I’d like to stay here.”
When asked what is the most important thing he has learned during his time in Germany, he likes to stay in the job context: “In Guinea, things often have to be revised several times because people don’t talk to each other properly. It’s often that somebody explains something to someone else, both nod at each other – and in the end, something completely different comes out. In Germany, this rarely happens. I think that’s great.”
For training manager Klose, this attitude confirms the very advantages that can arise from worldwide cooperation – especially when, as in Amadou’s case, very different cultures meet: “The decisive factor in training refugees is how to deal with the possible differences. We have noticed, for example, that apprentices like Amadou often value their training much more than many local graduates. Some trainees from Germany can take a leaf out of their book when it comes to topics such as punctuality, respect or inquisitiveness.”
Educational initiative for refugees: “We give young people seed capital”
A retrospective: In 2016, 36 German companies joined forces to promote the integration of refugees as part of the “We-together” initiative. In Germany, thyssenkrupp created an additional 150 apprenticeships and 230 internships in the following years.
For Heinz-Joachim Klose, it’s a decision that made thyssenkrupp’s social responsibility very tangible: “Such projects are important because we give young people seed capital – not in a financial sense but by integrating them into the job market. Most refugees want to work and support their families, but often fail because of language barriers. With a training place, we give them not only technical, but also specialized language support – over three years. So if the apprentices leave the company later, they have a good chance of working in another company.”
Klose is also convinced that more courage for diversity and new perspectives can also be incredibly valuable for the apprenticing companies themselves. And he says that, in principle, there is no reason why the skilled workers trained by thyssenkrupp should not one day be deployed in the company’s branches in their home countries. For Amadou, however, this is not an issue at the moment. He has his future firmly in his sights: “After graduating, I would like to stay with thyssenkrupp.”