Bremen , Germany

You Are the Key: Your Future,Your City

City of Bremen

August 23, 2012

A youth recruitment campaign to bring diversity to a city’s public services

When officials in the city of Bremen investigated why so few young people with a migrant background were applying for the city’s many training positions, they learned that civil service jobs were rarely considered an option. The demographic Bremen, You are the Keyhad few family members, friends or contacts who worked for the municipality.

To address this issue, Bremen started a new campaign in 2009 to recruit more young people into the civil service under the slogan “You are the Key…to your Future and your City” (Du bist der Schlüssel…für deine Zukunft und deine Stadt).  It included an easy-to-follow website that provided young people with profiles of the kinds of jobs and careers open to them.

You are the Key: An Inclusive campaign

Located in north-west Germany, Bremen is the country’s tenth largest city with a population of 500,000. The “Free Hanseatic City of Bremen” boasts the fifth largest manufacturing workforce in the country and is a major local employer.  Approximately 25% of the region’s population has a migrant background with the top three countries represented being Turkey, Poland and the Russian Federation.

To recruit this largely untapped population, Bremen embarked on the “You are the Key” campaign (named after the iconic symbol of the city) through its municipal education and training department. Similar to programs in cities like Hamburg, the aim is to recruit for a wide range of departments, including police, firefighters, law enforcement, judicial administration, financial management and general administration.

The campaign messages were developed carefully to manage a rather tricky problem of how to recruit selectively while maintaining the city’s commitment to equality. Excluded minority youth needed to feel they were “equal among equals.” The city, which employs more than 25,000 people, had already promoted employment opportunities; in 2005, its cross-departmental strategy for integration had been shortlisted by the Bertelsmann Stiftung as a best practice. The new program was meant to be a more inclusive approach.

The “You are the Key” program consists of a number of approaches to reach its audience including a print media advertising campaign, a career fair, a new cross-departmental website devoted to promoting the various career options and job openings, a series of short films, and outreach to migrant organizations. There are even Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The outreach targeted not only young people, but their parents as well. While a German-language brochure described the various streams within the civil service, the Russian and Turkish translations have been tweaked to address parents in an opening letter. It recognized the role they play in advising their children regarding career choices and emphasized Bremen’s commitment to promoting diversity within the civil service.


“We want the proportion of migrants to increase in public service,” says Mayor Karoline Linnert. “We need their intercultural competence. The administration should be as colourful as our society.”

In 2009, 19.6 per cent of applicants came from a migrant background. By 2010, proportion had jumped to 25 per cent as a result of the campaign, with its use of examples of successful young city trainees, in conjunction with the recognizing the achievements of bilingual candidates. The look of the campaign itself was also received well by city employees and many felt it strengthened the city’s brand as an employer.

Making it Work for You:

  • Invite parents into the recruitment process with multilingual brochures
  • Develop videos that show young people with a migrant backgrounds in the positions advertised

For this Good Idea contact:

Jochen Kriesten, Training and Education Center (AEC), City of Bremen
Doventorscontrescarpe 172 B
Bremen, Germany,


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