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:
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 97 country profiles with more than 4.340 professional profiles.
• The portal has more than 430 registered users.