Even today, Germany is already feeling the effects of demographic change, and this presents companies with significant challenges: according to studies conducted by the German Economic Institute (IW), Germany is currently experiencing a shortage of some 290,900 qualified professionals in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and mathematics (September 2017) – 191,000 of those in the occupations of the vocational training field. As a result of falling population figures, this number is set to rise significantly in the coming years, especially for qualified professionals who have completed their vocational training. This is why it is even more important to make the best possible use of the potential available:
In Germany, almost three million people have a foreign professional or university qualification. Of these, around two million people have gained a vocational training or further training qualification abroad.
To make sure that all qualified professionals resident in Germany have the opportunity to work in a job they are qualified for, it is necessary to compare their qualifications to German reference professions. This became possible since April 2012 with the German Professional Qualifications Assessment Act, known as the Recognition Act.
After the German Professional Qualifications Assessment Act came into force, assessment authorities have faced a new challenge: they now have to compare qualifications obtained abroad with the German qualifications. This requires comprehensive knowledge about foreign vocational training systems and qualifications. In the past information on the matter was difficult to find. This is why in 2011, the former Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Technology (BMWi) decided to create the BQ-Portal as part of the Qualified Professionals Initiative [in German]:
The BQ-Portal now consolidates all relevant information and know-how about foreign professional qualifications and vocational training systems in one platform.
• As an intelligent system, it facilitates the continuous expansion of expertise and know-how.
• It contributes to a more uniform and transparent assessment process.
• It optimises the information exchange and networking of the assessment authorities.
• To date, the BQ-Portal has published 87 country profiles with more than 3.000 professional profiles.
• The portal has more than 400 registered users.
Target groups of the BQ-Portal:
- Assessment authorities in charge of assessing foreign qualifications (compertent bodies). Chambers and professional associations (in particular chambers of industry and commerce, chambers of trade, chambers of agriculture and chambers of liberal professions) can use the portal to find valuable information and practical guidelines for assessment of foreign credentials, which correspond to a federally regulated vocational or further training qualification pursued within the dual system in Germany. Information about foreign credentials, which correspond to German school and academic qualifications or qualifications under the state law, is provided by the database anabin.
- Companies looking for information about foreign professional qualifications to help them assess the qualifications of job candidates.
- Advisory centres that advise and support qualified professionals with foreign qualifications in having their qualifications recognised.
- Professionals wishing to have their qualifications recognized can use the portal to learn about foreign vocational training systems and professions and find persons and authorities to contact about the recognition process.
Facts about professional recognition (as of: September 2018)
- In total, about 111,500 applications for recognition were submitted between April 2012 and January 2017.
- In 2017, nearly 25,000 new applications were filed.
- Less than 2% of the applicants received a negative ruling.
- In 2017, most frequent country of origin among the applicants was Syria. In total, 3600 applications for recognition of a Syrian vocational training were filed in. This is a 80 percent increase over the previous year. Bosnia and Herzegovina followed with 3100 applications and Serbia with 2400.
Recognition of qualifications is key
Integration can only be successful if it is possible to compare foreign professional qualifications with their German counterparts. A study by the Institute for Work, Skills and Training (IAQ) at the University of Duisburg/Essen supports this: it found that recipients of social welfare or unemployment benefits whose foreign qualifications were recognised in Germany were 50% more likely to find employment than those whose qualifications were not recognised.