June 16, 2021

In our 2018/19 CSR report, we talked about the 32-year-old refugee, Ebrahim. He was making headway in completing his basic integration training (IGU) at Vestergaard. The purpose of the 2-year IGU course was to learn and become skilled in various work functions that ensure qualifications relevant to the Danish labour market. Now, a few years have passed. With this article, we follow up on how Ebrahim has done since then. Ebrahim says that the IGU course took him around the electrical workshop, the metal-working department and, finally, the warehouse before he finished his course in the autumn of 2020.

Today, Ebrahim is still at Vestergaard but now as an apprentice. Ebrahim has replaced the IGU course with an apprenticeship as a warehousing and logistics employee. His training at the warehouse started the day after he finished the IGU course, he says happily – and in entirely
understandable Danish, illustrating Ebrahim’s language development over the past few years. Training as a warehouse and logistics employee involves an approx. three-year vocational course with school and vocational training. The classroom teaching is also in Danish, so knowing the language is essential. Ebrahim says it is a comprehensive course where he learns many things, including working environment and road safety. He has also taken science subjects such as chemistry, physics and mathematics. He elaborates: “We learn to calculate cubic content and, e.g. how many pallets there is room for in a truck and the handling of special materials. I am pleased. I learn completely new things daily.”

Ebrahim is the only refugee in the classroom and has been in Denmark for the shortest time. He is also the only one of the eight other students who already has an apprenticeship. The warehouse manager at Vestergaard, who is Ebrahim’s superior, proudly says: “It’s actually quite cool!” and explains that most people start school and then apply for an apprenticeship, whereas Ebrahim had a handle on that from the start. Ebrahim wanted to stay with Vestergaard at the end of the IGU course. However, organizational restructuring due to the corona crisis meant that he could not be offered employment. Instead, the possibility of an apprenticeship in the warehouse arose.

The warehouse manager elaborates that Vestergaard had just been approved for two apprentices in the warehouse: “The director of production asked me (the warehouse manager, ed.) if we should find an apprentice from outside or if it should be Ebrahim? – And of course, it had to be Ebrahim! We already know Ebrahim and have good experiences, and then I wanted to give Ebrahim the huge opportunity to get an apprenticeship from the start (…) Vestergaard is also a place with automated and technical aids and scanners – it is a huge advantage to complete an apprenticeship in a place where that is available – it is something he can also use in other jobs”. Thus, Ebrahim is the first apprentice at the warehouse at Vestergaard. The timing was perfect. The warehouse manager says that he is happy to have Ebrahim at the warehouse: “He is popular, and everyone likes Ebrahim. He is known for having the most infectious laugh at Vestergaard. He never gives up and is good at asking for help”.

As with much else during the corona crisis, Ebrahim’s early days as an apprentice have also been marked by school closures and home-schooling. He attended school for one day in January 2021 before everyone was sent home for virtual teaching. Ebrahim says it has been challenging to learn new things at a screen at home, get a handle on the computer and virtual communication, and not being able to ask the person sitting next to him for help. Homework has also been challenging at times, so Ebrahim has visited the warehouse a few times to ask his colleagues for help with a task. This is the advantage of having an apprenticeship like Vestergaard from the outset as there is help to be found and good colleagues.

When the introductory course at the school ends in June 2021, Ebrahim will be a full-time apprentice at the warehouse for a year. The warehouse manager emphasizes to Ebrahim that he has to keep asking questions when he returns from school – and maybe Ebrahim can also tell them if they can do things differently at the warehouse. This emphasizes the safe environment at Vestergaard with room for mutual learning.

The warehouse manager says that he needs to make a plan for Ebrahim’s apprenticeship to ensure that Ebrahim gets around all the different functions in the warehouse: “It is not just about putting boxes on shelves, there is receipt of goods, picking and scanning goods and, corona permitting, he also needs to get around our logistics function in the office, learn a little about economics – it is a comprehensive training – there is a reason why it takes three years”.

Over the next few years, Ebrahim will focus entirely on completing his warehousing and logistics employee training.

When asked about his future dreams, Ebrahim answers with a smile: “I dream that corona ends and the situation becomes good again, then we will have a big party!”. We talk about last year’s company parties being cancelled due to the pandemic, so we are owed a summer party at Vestergaard. Ebrahim laughs, and it is contagious. There are many signs that Ebrahim is fully integrated into the Vestergaard community.