Recently I’ve been talking with quite a few international people in Hamburg about issues affecting them, because I’m brainstorming about where to take “Why Hamburg?”.
One of the issues that keeps coming up is employment.
My take on it is this: we’re really lucky to live in a lovely city like Hamburg, and even more lucky to have friends both from the local community and from all over the world. In order for this to be sustainable (apologies for inflational use of this word!), we need to have employment. Otherwise we’re not reaching our potential, and life is less enjoyable.
There are many international people in Hamburg who have good jobs. But if their company were to make them reduntant, or go bust, they would have trouble finding employment at the same level.
Some people work in jobs for which they are over-qualified; others are in danger of leaving altogether. I say “danger” because for me, when other international people leave Hamburg, that’s a threat to the lifestyle I enjoy. It’s also bad for the city, because international people who are rooted in Hamburg also root for Hamburg as I argued previously.
How do we enable career progression for international people in Hamburg?
I don’t think this is necessarily Hamburg or Germany-specific, and partly it is because – no matter how well you speak the local language – as a foreign person you will never be chief editor of the newspaper, or the person writing press releases.
But how do we ensure that international people can stay for the long-term, safe in the knowledge that they aren’t dependent on one employer and can progress through their career at successively high levels of skill and seniority, just like everyone else?