The air blows warmly on Jan Wienold’s face, while he carefully connects one bitumen sheet after the other with the gas burner. But the trained journeyman roofer has one of the most beautiful views you can wish for at work: The Vancouver skyline. A few months earlier, he was in Germany working as usual. He never dreamt that he would be working on the rooftops of Vancouver for six months. The Berlin start-up “Journeyman” made this possible. Under the direction of Samuel Wurster, it helps tradesmen to network internationally and to work abroad for a longer period of time.
In addition to his business studies, Samuel occasionally helped his grandfather to work in the quarry during the summer. He also spent some time as a non-commissioned officer in the Swiss military, where many of his colleagues had a technical background. “As a craftsman you have a cool education and due to the lack of skilled workers you earn good money,” he quotes. “But when you are in early or mid-20s and you check Facebook and Instagram you see how students from your circle of friends spend semesters abroad in the most beautiful places in the world, and you would like to do something like that yourself.” Inspired by the idea of enabling tradesmen to spend several months abroad, Samuel began researching. He found that many English-speaking countries also lack qualified personnel. The concept for his start-up was born.
Journeyman works via an online platform where tradesmen like Jan can register to work abroad for six to 18 months. Currently the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are on offer as target countries. Samuel’s team will not only find a suitable position in a partner company, but will also provide active support on topics such as international health insurance, visa, tax number and accommodation for the first few days. In this way, the start-up wants to take the uncertainty away from young specialists, who are usually travelling abroad for a prolonged period for the first time. Despite all the anticipation, this is often the order of the day.
In the long term, Journeyman could grow into a network in which tradesmen from all over the world can exchange ideas.
Once you have created your personal profile, you can click through the various projects and fill out an application form. As everywhere else, a compelling application is half the battle. Not to forget the keeping of deadlines. By phone and WhatsApp, Journeyman keeps in touch with the candidate throughout the process and informs them of the next steps. “It is easier if we use the communication channels on which most of them already operate,” the Swiss entrepreneur explains. Alternatively, you can drop by the Journeyman office in Berlin-Kreuzberg for a personal meeting or make an individual appointment with a team member.
If a candidate fits a job, Journeyman organizes a Skype conversation between the foreign company and the candidate. And if both sides get on well together? Then it is time to pack your bags – up and away! Even after arrival, the tradesman is not on his own. All participants, who are located in the same area, are networked in a local community and can help each other with questions and exchange experiences. If there are any problems, the personal partner at Journeyman is still there for you.
However, Journeyman is more than just a job agency or travel organization, explains Samuel. For him, international networking is just as interesting as the mediation: “In the long term, Journeyman could grow into a network in which tradesmen from all over the world can exchange ideas. Like a LinkedIn for tradesmen, so to speak.” Former Journeyman participants could thus remain part of the community and share their experiences. In addition to professions with a particularly high demand abroad, such as carpenters, joiners and roofers, the start-up founder also wants to expand the range to other trades. And that’s not all: Return visits by foreign tradesmen would also be possible with this concept in the future!