From hardship to hope

6/23/2016 3:00 PM CET

Finding a job and establishing a career is a big challenge for anyone. But if you are a refugee in a foreign country, in a foreign cultural setting, your task is even greater. Ziad, Firas and Hamdi are in the process of taking this big step.

Following Skanska's Framtidspraktik internship program for foreign-born engineers, Hamdi Abugharbia (at right) is on his way to becoming a Skanska employee. Joining him is Skanska business developer Tobias Abrahamsson.

Skanska's Framtidspraktik internship program has served as a game changer for these three foreign-born engineers who have been living for a few years in Växjö, in the southeast of Sweden. During three months with the Framtidspraktiken program, like all participants they learned about construction in Sweden and about Skanska's way of working, providing experience and skills that will be valuable for their futures.

Partway through the program, Ziad, Firas and Hamdi had so proven themselves that Skanska Sweden provided them with a special opportunity: an offer of employment.

Through this and similar programs, Skanska can gain skilled employees who can further strengthen our teams with the diverse experiences they bring. It's also a way of investing in the communities where we work by contributing to the integration process.

"As a refugee who has seen hardships and had horrifying experiences, your faith and spirit are eroded. But after this internship and with the opportunity to work for Skanska, I feel confident and my life has taken a positive course. Everyone is so nice and I am very glad to have the possibility to learn so much," says Hamdi, fighting back the tears.

Focused on local integration

Framtidspraktiken is a Skanska Sweden initiative aimed at creating a forum for local social sustainability and integration.

"We promised to start a labor market initiative focused on integration in a competition for Skärvet, a new residential area in Växjö. We have since expanded it to comprise the entire (Kronoberg) district, which allows us to broaden our initiative," says Tobias Abrahamsson, Skanska Sweden business developer. "Sustainability is about managing resources and one of the most important resources we have is human resources."

He adds: "Everyone is so committed to making this a success. We are finding the best candidates for the right positions and guiding them into our projects and way of working."

International engineering backgrounds

Ziad, Firas and Hamdi are all engineers with years of professional experience from their homelands. In March of this year, they started their internships.

Firas Dawood, Ziad Jooma and Hamdi Abugharbia (left to right) are all engineers with years of professional experience from their homelands. Through Skanska, they have the opportunity to use their expertise in Sweden.

Hamdi Abugharbia is from Palestine and has been resident in Sweden for eight years. This is the first job he has had in Sweden in which he can make use of his education.

"Skanska is a company that cares about people, about safety and even about our families. I really love Skanska," says Hamdi.

A big change

For Hamdi, it is a big change from his earlier experience.

"The biggest difference is all the machinery and equipment we use here," he says. "It is so much more efficient to work this way. It is impressive."

"And everyone is trained and well educated, which also increases safety and efficiency," says Hamdi at the Skärvet project, his first construction job in Sweden.

Using their skills

Firas Dawood is an Iraqi engineer who has been living in Sweden for two years and is now working with civil construction relating to the new BoKlok Långarör housing project in Växjö. This is his first job in his new country.

"I am an engineer and worked with project infrastructure in my homeland. Now through this internship, I have the opportunity to use my skills here," says Firas. "I am also learning how you work here in Sweden and specifically about how Skanska works and thinks. Today, we have been engaged in safety training for several hours. It is important, fun and really useful. I am really enjoying my new workplace at Skanska."

Ziad Jooma, who is of Palestinian and Syrian background, has also been given his first work assignment in Sweden after one year. He is now adding to his 11 years of work experience in engineering with an internship with Skanska Teknik in Växjö.