Roshan, who fled to Slovenia seven years ago when he was 16, said: “My colleagues immediately made me feel welcome and appreciated. They didn’t realise I was a refugee at first, they thought I came from China or Korea. Now we understand each other very well, we’ve become friends and sometimes socialise after work.”
A win-win for everyone
In addition to Roshan, the 400-employee site also provides work for seven asylum seekers from Syria. Tomaž Lanišek, General Manager OEM Europe & CIS, says the situation is a win-win for everyone.
“We provide a regular income and sustainable future opportunities and in return we are able to fill important production positions with diligent, motivated and quick learning people,” he says.
“We are all human”
The placements, via a local employment agency, have also helped forge better understanding between different cultures. “We are all human after all,” says Roshan, who has been working at the plant since 2016. “We all breathe, we all have hearts and feelings. Until you know someone, how can you say they are bad?”
Brane Parazaja, manager of the Naton job agency, said he had found work for 15 refugees in Slovenia. “Nationally there is a critical shortage of people who are willing to work in production. We want to offer those housed at refugee centres the change to have a better life and better opportunities to integrate.”
Back to primary school
Learning Slovenian was critical to social integration, says Roshan. Although still a teenager he was found a place at a Slovenian primary school and fast-tracked through grades. Three years after his arrival, his Slovenian was fluent and he was training to be a hairdresser.
“I learned that I could apply for Slovenian citizenship after being employed for certain period of time, so I left the training, and via Naton was interviewed for a job Knauf Insulation,” he says.
Plans for the future
“I had to pass a written test and demonstrate my knowledge of Slovenia. After that I got a position in production. I would tell any newcomer to Europe to learn the language as quickly as possible because it helps you get work and helps you find your bearings. Without Slovenian, it would have been impossible for me to make friends with my colleagues.”
Roshan has big plans for his future. “One day I want to be my own boss. I’d like to open a catering business. I’ve already given it some thought and what needs to be done to make it happen, but for the moment I still have a lot to learn. And I want to learn as much as possible.”