1. Where can I learn German?
2. Who can help me to find the right occupation?
3. Where can I carry out research myself?
4. Who do I contact when I want to undergo training?
5. Who can answer my questions on studying?
6. Who can help me with questions on financing, looking for accommodation or on part-time jobs?
7. Who can help as well?
You should be able to speak good German if you want to undertake vocational training or start studying. If you would like to start vocational training, you should reach Level B2 beforehand, and those interested in studying should reach Level C1. You can attend one or more language courses to learn German. Many language courses are offered at regional or local authority level, so it pays to contact the local authority where you live. Adult education centres (VHS) also offer language courses. As a supplement, I recommend free online language courses, such as those found in the Deutsche Welle portal or in the Arrival app. In some universities it's also possible to take part as a guest student in language courses in the language centre. Here as well - ask!
If the question is about the right occupation, the best thing is to go first of all to the vocational guidance experts at the employment agencies. If you want, fundamental questions on the German education system can be explained here. For example, why it is so important in Germany to have vocational training, or what types of training are available in the first place. After this, it's about finding your own way into working life: using your personal strengths and interests, the vocational guidance expert will try to find out with you which occupational possibilities are worthy of consideration for you. The next step is to clarify how you can reach this career goal – through vocational training or by studying (more on this in step 3: Which is the right path for me?). To enable the vocational guidance experts in the employment agencies to take enough time with you, you should make an appointment beforehand: by phoning 0800 4 5555 00 (no charge), using the Contact form or in person in the office.
You can obtain information on vocational training and studying without an appointment in the Careers Information Centres (“Berufsinformationszentren” – BiZ) in the local employment agency. You can not only search the Internet at the PC workplaces but you can also write applications as well, for example. Staff in the agency can help if you have any comprehension difficulties. Careers Information Centres also have information folders on careers for which studying is necessary and regulated training occupations. The folders are clearly divided into different occupational fields, for example computer science, medicine, tourism or sales.
The employment agencies provide information and counselling to people looking for a job or a training position. In addition, they support placement with funding opportunities. Additional contact partners for regulated training occupations in particular are the Chambers of Industry and Commerce (IHK) or the Chambers of Crafts (HWK). IHKs are responsible for regulated training occupations in the area of industry and commerce, for example bank employee or technical product designer. In contrast, HWKs are aligned towards craft-based occupations, such as joiners or bricklayers. Both chambers work closely together with the employment agencies, but also offer advice themselves. As they are in contact with training companies, the chambers can mediate between companies that provide training and trainees. In addition, the chambers are familiar with funding programmes for trainees. You can find out which chamber is responsible for your region on the homepages of the chambers on the Internet: the Deutsche Industrie- und Handelskammertag (DIHK) for the IHKs and the Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks (ZDH) for the HWKs.
In addition, in 2013 the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) launched the so-called KAUSA service points. Since 2016, these service points have also advised and informed young refugees on training opportunities at 24 locations throughout Germany. You can find more information at www.jobstarter.de.
The vocational guidance experts in the employment agencies will be pleased to help with questions on studying as well. If you already know what or where you want to study, the central student advisory service (“Zentrale Studienberatung”) or the international office in the respective university can help. For example, staff there can answer questions on the range of courses, admissions or applications. The academic advisers are the people to contact if you have questions on a specific study course. They can be found in the faculty or department. The university website has the data for contact partners.
Are you looking for accommodation, a part-time job, or do you have questions on financing your studies? In this case, the Studentenwerke are the right contact points. Check the map at www.studentenwerke.de to find out which Studentenwerk is responsible for your university location. After 15 months of tolerated or permitted residence you can apply as a student to the Studentenwerk for BAföG, government-supported financial aid. The Studentenwerke can also help you to find a room in a hall of residence – which is usually the cheapest form of accommodation for students. Studentenwerke also provide information on part-time jobs. If you work part-time, you should make sure that your studies don't suffer as a result.
The youth migration services of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) are active in various regions. Providers are often church institutions, such as Caritas. The youth migration services not only provide support in the search for a suitable occupation, but also help with integration into society or with family difficulties. The aim of the youth migration services (JMD) is long-term support for integration in Germany. At present, the www.jugendmigrationsdienste.de has a list with 454 youth migration services.
In general, I recommend not simply to use a contact point but to acquire information from various sources. Being active yourself is important as well. If you have talks and establish contact with locals, you will create a good basis for your occupational future.