Background and objectives

Find out why the BQ-Portal was launched and how it contributes to securing a skilled workforce in Germany.

Current demand for skilled workers in Germany

Despite the Corona crisis, the consequences of demographic change in Germany are still clearly noticeable and pose a major challenge to companies. According to an analysis by the German Economic Institute (IW), there is a shortage of around 308,400 qualified workers (April, 2023) in the 36 so-called STEM professions. For STEM skilled workers and STEM specialist occupations (e.g. technicians, master craftsmen) alone, in April 2023 the shortfall of skilled workers was 134,100 and 33,000 respectively.

Overall the skilled worker gap has decreased during 2020 and related to the COVID19 pandemic. Nevertheless, some occupational fields and industries that have come through the crisis in a comparatively stable manner are already showing a positive employment trend with increasing shortages of skilled workers (see KOFA study 1/2021 and KOFA Kompakt 1/2023). This includes the construction industry and parts of the skilled trades. Due to the declining population trend, the number of skilled workers in demand will increase (again) in the coming years. This applies, above all, to skilled workers who have completed vocational training.

In addition, due to the demographic change the proportion of pensioners compared to the working population will continue to rise sharply. For example, the "Reliable Intergenerational Contract" commission (Kommission „Verlässlicher Generationenvertrag“) set up by the German government expects the number of employees subject to compulsory insurance and unemployment benefit recipients to fall from over 35 million in 2018 to around 32 million by 2045. At the same time, the number of pensioners will grow from just under 20 million to over 24 million.

This makes it even more important to tap into all available potential.

Occupational recognition as an opportunity

To ensure that all skilled workers with foreign vocational qualifications living in Germany have a chance to work in their learned profession, it must be possible to compare vocational qualifications acquired abroad with German qualifications. This possibility was already created in April 2012 with the so-called "Recognition Act".

Since the Skilled Workers Immigration Act (Fachkräfteeinwanderungsgesetz, FEG) came into force in March 2020, occupational recognition has gained importance for another reason: With the new Act, in most professions the recognition of the respective foreign professional or university degree is now a prerequisite to immigrate to Germany from third countries for the purpose of employment.

Since the Recognition Act came into force, employees of competent bodies (e.g. the professional chambers) have been entrusted with the task of comparing professional qualifications acquired abroad with German qualifications. To be able to do this, they conduct so-called equivalence tests (Gleichwertigkeitsprüfungen) in which foreign vocational qualifications are compared with German reference occupations (Referenzberufe). This requires extensive knowledge of foreign vocational training systems and vocational qualifications. However, it was very difficult to access relevant information in the past.

This is where the BQ-Portal, launched in 2011 on the initiative of the German Federal Ministry or Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK), comes in:

The information portal for foreign professional qualifications bundles all relevant information on foreign professional qualifications and vocational training systems on one platform.

  • As a learning system, it contributes to a continuous build-up of knowledge and information. The focus is primarily on countries and occupational groups for which a considerable number of applications for occupational recognition have been submitted or are expected to be submitted.
  • Because of the BQ portal, assessment procedures in Germany have become more uniform and transparent.
  • The portal optimises the exchange of information as well as the networking of chamber employees.
  • At the moment there are 105 published country profiles with more than 5,760 job profiles on the BQ portal.
  • More than 430 users are registered in the BQ-Portal.
  • Background information on the diploma assessment practice in Germany, a wide range of exchange and networking opportunities, well-founded working aids, as well as individual advice and training services for registered users round off the BQ-Portal's offer.
The BQ-Portal easily explained
The BQ portal as a contribution to securing skilled workers in Germany

In 2011, against the backdrop of demographic developments, the German federal government announced goals and measures to secure a skilled workforce.

One measure within the framework of the then 'Path 5: Integration and Qualified Immigration' (Sicherungspfad 5: „Integration und qualifizierte Zuwanderung“) was the adoption of the 'Act to improve the determination and recognition of professional qualifications acquired abroad' (in short: BQFG). Its aim is to better tap into the potential of qualified migrants, and to promote integration into working life that is adequate to their qualifications. In this context, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) launched the BQ portal in order to make an important contribution to securing skilled workers.

Since then, the BQ portal has dedicated itself to various focus countries and target groups, including:

Qualifications of refugees

Since 2015, the BQ portal has provided extended information on vocational training in the main countries of origin of refugees. This way, it makes a contribution to refugees' integration into the labour market. On the one hand, information on vocation training in refugees' home countries is required for professional recognition. At the same time, this information ensures greater transparency for companies that want to integrate refugees, and advice centers that support refugees on their way into the labour market. In the BQ-Portal you will find, for example, more than 110 professional profiles for vocational qualifications from Syria. In the “Qualifications of Refugees” section, eight country profiles provide an overview of the level of education and the integration of refugees.

Immigration of skilled workers and vocational recognition

Since the Skilled Workers Immigration Act came into force in March 2020, in addition to the focus on “Foreign skilled workers in Germany”, another focus of the portal is on the thematic area “Skilled workers from abroad”. Responsible bodies for diploma recognition and companies can find information on all aspects of vocational training in selected focus countries in our occupation and country profiles. In a report, we analysed the potential for recognition of professional qualifications from selected focus countries. The focus countries were selected in close cooperation with the German Federal Empolyment Agency’s Central Placement Services for Professionals Abroad (ZAV).

Business support

The BQ portal also supports companies that want to recruit qualified professionals from abroad, by researching information on specific foreign curricula needed for professional recognition. This process is coordinated by the relevant local office (chamber). Do you find yourself here? Then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Target groups

The BQ-Portal offers employees of the competent bodies (in particular chambers of crafts, chambers of industry and commerce, chambers of agriculture and chambers of liberal professions) valuable information and practical guidance for the assessment of foreign vocational qualifications based on a federally regulated dual education or training qualification as a reference occupation in Germany. The anabin database provides information on foreign educational certificates that correspond, for example, to a school-based, academic or state-regulated educational qualification.

Companies are another important target group. They can find information to help them better assess the qualifications and degrees that their employees or applicants have acquired abroad. In addition, companies can obtain information on the recognition of occupations in the course of the immigration of skilled workers. Practical examples of companies that have already supported recognition processes round off the offer for companies.

Furthermore, the portal is aimed at counselling centres that inform skilled workers with foreign professional qualifications about the possibilities of recognition and support them in submitting applications.

Applicants with foreign vocational qualifications and visitors will also find valuable information on foreign vocational training systems and occupations on the BQ-Portal. However, the first reference portal for applicants is the Recognition in Germany (Anerkennung in Deutschland) homepage. Here they will find, among other information, a recognition finder to identify the responsible body for the recognition of their vocational qualification in Germany.

Winner of the European Public Sector Awards

In November 2015, the BQ-Portal won the European competition “European Public Sector Award” for innovative and efficient administrative action in the category “European, National and Regional Award”. It successfully prevailed against 265 proposals from 36 European countries. The award from the European Institute for Public Administration (EIPA) is under the motto "The public sector as a partner for a better society". The award was given to excellent projects that demonstrate innovative ideas for solving societal challenges.

EPSA Award