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Integration durch Qualifizierung


Building bridges for migrant engineers.



Building bridges for migrant engineers

Engineers of foreign origin face a variety of challenges that impede them from finding employment in Germany that matches their educational qualifications Despite their qualifications, they often lack professional and social networks as well as knowledge of the regional engineering labour markets. Both are prerequisites for gaining a foothold in Germany.

With our mentoring programme VDI-Xpand - by engineers for engineers - we counteract this. We want to help immigrant engineers and international engineering students in higher semesters integrate not only into the German labour market but also in society, and thus offer them a home.

VDI-Xpand is being implemented on a pilot basis in North Rhine-Westphalia in cooperation with the VDI district associations Aachen, Bochum, Münsterland and East Westphalia-Lippe. The mentoring programme is at the core of the VDI project “Bridging Measures and Qualification Support for Engineers” in the funding programme IQ – Integration through Qualification. The funding programme IQ – Integration through Qualification aims to sustainably improve the labour market integration of adults with a migration background.

With VDI-Xpand we want to connect professionally experienced mentors and qualified migrant engineers. In a joint exchange, mentees and mentors can open up new professional perspectives together and discuss topics that occupy them. In addition to questions about applications and career entry, topics can include dealing with prejudices, career planning or work culture. This continuous exchange of experiences encompasses the programme.

The mentoring group meetings are embedded in a comprehensive supporting programme. At the beginning, the participants' skills for entering the (local) engineering job market in Germany are strengthened in various formats (such as workshops). In the course of the programme, mentees are given the opportunity to expand their knowledge through networking events in person, company excursion(s) and online qualifications. The exchange and networking of mentees and mentors among each other is also actively promoted.

The mentoring programme lasts 11 months and requires mentees to dedicate 37 hours. The scope for mentees to gain new perspectives can always expand depending on how they use the provisions. The programme is structured as follows:

  • Kick-off and closing event (incl. Workshop 1 "Intercultural Competence")
  • At least 6 mentoring group meetings
  • Workshop 2 "Goals, Needs, Interests “.
  • Workshop 3 either "Communication at workplace and in professional life" for job seekers and/or those starting a career
  • Participation in the "Using career fairs effectively" offer
  • Participation in company excursions and networking events

The effort for mentors amounts to approx. 30 hours over the duration of the mentoring programme.

You can view the complete framework programme for 2024 here from October 2023 (in German):

VDI-Xpand framework program

The exchange in the mentoring groups is characterised by trusting and open interaction. Both mentees and mentors benefit from this. A win-win situation!

Advantages for mentees:Support in job search and application procedures

  • And/or the entry and advancement in working life
  • Insights into the local engineering job market & contact with companies
  • Building a professional and social network
  • Strengthening and making visible own competences
  • Identifying skills gaps
  • Benefit from the mentors' expertise and the exchange with other mentees

Advantages for mentors:​​​​​​

  • Expansion of one's own counselling competences
  • Enhancing intercultural competence
  • Exchange of experience and knowledge
  • Stimulating self-reflection on personal development
  • Expansion of one's own network
  • Insights into mentoring tools and labour market trends

Advantages for companies:

  • Positioning as an open and diverse company
  • Access and contact to potential employees
  • Presentation as an attractive employer at digital or face-to-face events
  • Higher visibility through promotion on social media

Requirements for mentees:

  • Degree or enrolment certificate in engineering sciences
  • Foreign university entrance qualification
  • German language skills at B1-B2 level
  • Access to the labour market (work permit)
  • Residence in North Rhine-Westphalia (exceptions possible)
  • Motivation and commitment

Requirements for mentors:

  • Professional experience as an engineer (min. 2 years)
  • Openness and interest in intercultural exchange
  • Willingness to engage with mentees and share experiences

The registration period for our mentoring programme in 2025 starts October 15 and goes on until December 15. The online registration form will be available during this period. You will need the following documents to register:

As a mentee:

  • Online-registration form for mentees
  • CV
  • Either: Copies of diploma (in English/German)/possibly proof of recognition as an engineer
  • Or enrolment certificate in an engineering programme

Information for Mentees

As a mentor:

  • Online-registration form for mentors
  • CV (optional)

Information for Mentors

Individual offers, such as on-site networking events or participation in career fairs, take place for mentees independently of participation in the mentoring programme. We therefore look forward to hearing from you via the link above.

As part of the project “Bridging Measures and Qualification Support for Engineers” we are developing further offers for engineers of foreign origin.
Several times a year we offer the series "Using career fairs effectively".
In particular, a qualification series on current technical topics is currently being planned additionally. You will find more information here in the future:

Useful links:

  • VDI-Xpand 2024: Kick-Off on 17.02.2024 in Düsseldorf
  • VDI-Xpand 2024: 1. Workshop for Mentees & Mentors 09.03.2024, online
  • "Karrieremessen effektiv nutzen": Visit of the Recruiting Tag Dortmund on 24.09.2024 (including preparatory and follow-up workshops) 
  • "Karrieremessen effektiv nutzen": Visit of the Recruiting Tag Köln on 07.11.2024 (including preparatory and follow-up workshops) 


The general shortage of skilled workers in Germany is particularly evident in the engineering labour market. Nevertheless, migrant engineers in Germany continue to face difficulties in establishing themselves in the labour market and in society. With VDI-Xpand we would like to counteract both. As VDI – The Association of German Engineers it is part of our self-conception to serve as a contact point for all engineers in Germany enthusiastic about technology. In doing so, we by no means want to promote a brain drain in other countries, but rather support those engineers of foreign origin who are already in Germany through a collegial exchange at eye level and offer them a home.

Mentoring refers to a voluntary exchange and learning relationship between two or more people that is usually linked to a specific goal. The focus is on the support of mentees by more experienced mentors who share their wealth of knowledge and experience in an open and trusting exchange at eye level. Mentoring can be used and implemented in a variety of ways.

Within VDI-Xpand mentoring refers to the support of a small group of migrant engineers (mentees) in their integration into the labour market by a mentor. The exact focus of this support is determined by the mentoring groups themselves.

VDI-Xpand offers you a variety of opportunities. Together with your mentor and your mentoring group, you can work on the topics that are currently on your mind. Within this framework, you will gain insights into your industry-specific job market, benefit from the shared exchange of experiences and be accompanied in your professional and private plans. The accompanying programme also supports you in this regard and additionally expands your knowledge about working life in Germany. In addition, VDI-Xpand creates various opportunities to expand your professional and social network through on-site networking events, a visit to a career fair or company excursions.

No. This is not something the mentor does. The aim of VDI-Xpand is to prepare you for the job search and application processes within the framework of the mentoring group meetings and the surrounding programme, and to support you with all questions about working life.

As a mentor, you will support a small group of migrant engineers in their integration into the labour market and society and accompany them on this path for a period of 11 months. You will gain insights into mentoring methods and benefit from the mutual exchange of experiences in your mentoring group. In this way, you will also obtain insights into the professional world of other countries, be encouraged to self-reflect on your own career and strengthen your own counselling and intercultural skills.

The mentoring programme requires participants to possess German language skills at minimum at B1-B2 level. Exchange in the mentoring groups as well as events will be conducted in German. Thus, all forms are provided in German.

After registration all registrants receive an invitation to a joint interview. After the end of the registration period and the completion of all interviews, the mentoring groups will be put together. As soon as this has been done and all registrants have confirmed their participation, participants will receive all further information by e-mail in January as well as an official invitation to the kick-off event in February.

We would like to emphasise at this point that we make every effort to enable all registrants to participate. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee a place - places will be allocated depending on the availability of mentors and matching.

After the registration deadline, the project team matches the mentoring groups based on the joint interviews and all available information. In this process, particular consideration is given to the professional interest and preferences of the participants and, in a second step, to their regional proximity.

No, a VDI membership is not necessary, neither for mentees nor for mentors. Mentees do, however, receive a free VDI membership for the duration of the mentoring programme.

No, participation is free of charge.

No, you definitely don’t! The mentoring programme is designed in such a manner (approx. 30 hours for the mentors and approx. 37 hours for the mentees over a period of 11 months) that both the mentees and the mentors can undertake the program without any problems, along with other commitments (job, studies, etc).

Yes, you can also support us as a company. If you are interested in cooperating with us and/or your employees would like to become mentors, please contact us via e-mail to xpand@vdi.de. We look forward to hearing from you.

As a sub-project of the Regional Integration Network NRW-West within the framework of the “Integration through Qualification” funding programme VDI-Xpand is generally limited to North Rhine-Westphalia. In individual cases, however, engineers from abroad who live in other federal states can also participate as mentees. We will be happy to review this with you.

This requirement does not apply to mentors. Although a residence in North Rhine-Westphalia would be desirable in terms of regional proximity, you are also welcome to register for participation as a mentor if your residence is outside of North Rhine-Westphalia.

Funded by/administered by/in cooperation with

The project “Bridging Measures and Qualification Support for Engineers” is funded within the framework of the Network IQ – Integration through Qualification by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the European Union through the European Social Fund Plus (ESF Plus) and administered by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees. Strategic partners in implementing the programme are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Employment Agency.


Funded by

Administered by

In cooperation with


Shirin Ernst

Shirin Ernst

Shubham Kshirsagar

Shubham Kshirsagar

Ingo Rauhut

Ingo Rauhut