Qualifications of refugees

On this page, companies get an overview of the qualifications of refugees in Germany. You will also find country profiles with information on education and vocational training in the main countries of origin and contact persons for all aspects of the integration of refugees in companies.
Grafik Qualifikationen von Flüchtlingen

Refugees in Germany: Brought Qualifications

In 2015 and 2016, many people came to Germany as refugees. A lot of them already had vocational training or work experience and are highly motivated to integrate into work and society. They have various, individually suitable options to determine their professional qualifications in Germany and, if necessary, to have them recognized. If professional recognition is not an option, there are various alternatives to labor market integration.

Below you will find the most important questions and answers about the qualifications that refugees bring with them and the possibilities for recognition.











What qualifications do refugees bring with them?

According to a representative survey, 25% of refugees abroad have either started studying (17%) or vocational training (8%). A total of 17% have also completed their studies or training abroad. On the other hand, 75% of the refugees say they do not have any formal training, including many who have learned a profession informally and / or have otherwise gained experience on the labor market.

More than 5,500 refugees aged 18 and older who arrived in Germany between January 2013 and January 2016 were surveyed (source: IAB-BAMF-SOEP, 2019).

How many professional qualifications of refugees have been recognized so far?

Many refugees have studied in their home countries or have completed formal (school) vocational training. Many of these skilled workers with a refugee background used the professional recognition in recent years. Between 2015 and 2018 around 8,475 Syrian vocational qualifications were recognized, as well as over 1,400 qualifications from Iran and over 800 qualifications from Iraq. The most common are recognitions in the field of health professions (doctor, nurse, dentist).

Very few professional qualifications have been recognized from other main countries of origin of refugees so far. This includes Somalia, Eritrea (102 recognized degrees between 2015 and 2018), Afghanistan (234 recognized degrees between 2015 and 2018). This is partly because vocational training often takes place informally ("learning by doing") and therefore cannot be recognized in Germany.

You can find out how the formal education systems are structured in the countries of origin of refugees on this page under the tab "Country profiles for assessing the qualifications of refugees".

When can refugees apply for occupational recognition?

When it comes to professional recognition, the same rules and procedures apply to refugees as to all skilled workers with a foreign professional qualification. An overview of the most important information about occupational recognition from a company’s perspective can be found under the heading "Accompanying recognition procedures".

In principle, the following applies: In order to gain access to the recognition procedure, the formally acquired foreign training or degree must be state recognized in the respective country. In addition, the formal training should have lasted at least one year. Informally acquired professional experience and professional qualifications that are not officially recognized abroad cannot be recognized in Germany.

Why is vocational recognition sometimes out of the question?

In most of the refugees’ countries of origin non-formal and informal vocational training based on the principle of “learning by doing” is widespread next to formal vocational training that can be recognized in Germany. This is particularly the case in the skilled trades and in countries with a weakened school system such as Afghanistan and Somalia. Some vocational qualifications of refugees also fall into the field of private, non-state-recognized training. Other vocational training courses, on the other hand, are too short (e.g. several weeks or months) to allow access to the professional recognition procedure when viewed individually. Professional recognition is therefore often no possibility.

In such cases, a possible alternative to making professional experience and theoretical knowledge visible are skills assessment measures. You can find an overview of these measures under the tab "Integration of refugees: contact for companies".

What if certificates are not available?

In principle, certain documents are required for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications. If these are not (no longer) available or incomplete, an option is the qualification analysis. Applicants can provide practical proof of their professional skills, for example in a technical discussion, through a work sample or through a trial work in a company.

What alternatives to occupational recognition are there?

In addition to the qualification analysis and skills assessment measures, there are various options depending on the individual requirements, for example:

  • A shortened vocational training in Germany. In this case previous school or vocational knowledge is recognized.
  • An external examination is also possible in individual cases. In this case, the person with professional experience takes part in the regular final or journeyman's examination of a training occupation and thus acquires a recognized professional qualification. To pass the theoretical part of the journeyman's examination, extensive knowledge of German is essential.

The responsible office decides whether a shortened training course or external examination is possible.

Country profiles for assessing the qualifications of refugees

With the help of our country profiles, you can get an initial overview of the respective countries of origin of refugees. This covers the countries with the largest number of refugees in recent years: Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Nigeria. Here you will find information on the (vocational) education system in the countries, on immigration and integration in Germany, as well as experience reports on the labor market integration of refugees through the recognition process. The profiles are regularly updated with the latest available numbers.

Tip: On the homepage of Recognition in Germany you will find numerous testimonials from refugees and other skilled workers with a migration background who have successfully completed the recognition process.











Report: Education and vocational training in the countries of origin of refugees

The report "Education and Vocational Training in the Countries of Origin of Refugees" presents the education systems of the six numerically most important countries of origin of refugees (Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran and Somalia - reference year 2016) with a focus on vocational training. The report helps companies and counseling centers to better classify foreign qualifications in the curricula vitae of refugees. Key differences to the German education system and, in particular, to dual vocational training are presented. Please note: The report is written in German.

Using the BQ-Portal to Assess Vocational Qualifications of Refugees

In the BQ portal, we offer information on foreign vocational training systems and vocational qualifications that are located in Germany in the area of dual education and training occupations. These help you to get a better picture yourself of the educational level of your future employees with a history of flight. The vocational training systems in the main countries of origin of refugees are also covered in the country and occupation profiles.

Country and occupational profiles

About us

Integration of refugees: contact persons for companies

Since the increased immigration of refugees around 2015, numerous offers for the integration of refugees have emerged. Other offers already existed before and were expanded to include this target group. Below companies will find an overview of the most important contact points and portals at federal level. There are also numerous contact points and support offers at the state and regional level.

Tip: On the website of the Competence Center for Securing Skilled Workers (KOFA) you will find an overview of the nationwide and regional support offers for companies and refugees, sorted by federal state.

Integration initiatives

The NETWORK Companies Integrate Refugees (NUiF) is an initiative of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics. Around 2,800 companies have joined it so far (as of September 2021). The network offers its members information materials and checklists, practical tips and the exchange of experiences, events and webinars as well as regular updates. Active companies can share their work as “good examples”.

The welcome guides have been supporting small and medium-sized companies in filling vacant training and work positions with refugees since 2016. With the aim of finding suitable applicants, the welcome guides located at more than 80 chambers inform and advise companies on topics such as funding and support options, administrative expenses and qualification requirements. You can find your local contact person in this database.

The IQ network advises migrants on all questions related to the German labor market as well as recognition and qualification topics. In addition, they offer companies and other labor market actors information, advice and training for the specific concerns of migrants, with the aim of raising intercultural awareness. The IQ network also offers a wide range of advice, information and support for refugees. The IQ Landesnetzwerk Hessen, for example, provides an information sheet on the labor market and vocational training system in Syria.

Portals for integration and professional recognition

The Competence Center Securing Skilled Workers (KOFA) supports companies in finding, retaining and qualifying skilled workers. You can find all information about the integration of refugees at www.kofa.de/fluechtlinge. Here you can find for example the dossier “Hiring refugees” with information and helpful tips on the topics of internships, training and employment of refugees. In addition to practical examples, you will find an overview of all initiatives about integrating refugees, including the area of ​​competency assessment (note: scroll).

To promote the knowledge and use of the recognition possibilities, DIHK and ZDH have started the project “Company Recognition of Professions”. The project informs companies about the possibilities and opportunities of professional recognition. Since 2020, the pilot project UBACONNECT has also brought companies together with skilled workers to carry out adaptation qualifications.

With the help of the information portal "Recognition in Germany", you as an employer can find out about the most important steps while hiring people with foreign professional qualifications. In addition to practical information, you will also find helpful support services here.

The anabin database provides information on the assessment of foreign educational qualifications and supports authorities, employers and employees as well as private individuals in classifying a foreign qualification in the German education system.

The Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) offers the first contact points in the field of integration and asylum procedures with its information platform for integration courses, immigration authorities and migration advice centers. The card-based digital information system (in short: "BAMF-NAvI" database) provides daily updated information and contact details for advice centers and authorities.

At Handbook Germany refugees will find information and tips about life in Germany in a total of eight languages. The section “work” provides important questions about the recognition of foreign qualifications, among other things.

Contact for competence assessment

Vocational recognition is out of the question for refugees with informal training or training that is too short in their home country. Nevertheless, they bring professional experience, knowledge and skills that may be useful on the German job market. The following skills assessment tools can be used to assess the skills of (not only) refugees.

check.work supports the German economy in recognizing the professional experience and potential of refugees. The online application is easy to use, interculturally understandable and can be used early in the integration process. Employers can create result profiles based on the practical experience and potential of their employees. This creates an initial base to support refugees with good prospects of remaining in Germany as they take part in the German labor market.

The BMBF-funded ValiKom Transfer project offers the opportunity to record and certify professionally relevant competencies using a validation process. The procedure is aimed at all people who have work experience and technical know-how, but no formal professional qualification. It is currently offered by 30 chambers across Germany as part of the project. Currently (as of September 2021) the procedure can be carried out for 13 skilled trades, 19 industrial and commercial occupations and two agricultural professions.

With the help of the EU Skills Profile Tool of the European Commission, the competencies and qualifications of third-country nationals (especially refugees) are presented and the path to the labor market simplified. The tool allows third-country nationals to present their skills, qualifications and experiences in a way that that can be understood by employers, education providers and organizations across the EU. The competence profile can also be used, among other things, as an orientation for the recognition of qualifications.

The MYSKILLS test was developed by the Bertelsmann Foundation and the Federal Employment Agency for refugees who cannot prove their vocational skills or who have informal vocational training. With the help of the test, counselors from the employment agencies can target job placements more effectively. Companies receive a differentiated picture of the professional skills and knowledge of refugees. The test can be carried out for 30 professions. The participants can choose between twelve languages.

Further information

KOFA Guide "How to Successfully Integrate Refugees": In this KOFA guide, you will learn what to consider when employing and integrating refugees and where to find support. The guide is aimed specifically at small and medium-sized enterprises.

Brochures of the NETZWERKs Unternehmen (NETWORK Companies) Integrate Refugees: In eight brochures, NETZWERK has compiled detailed practical tips for integrating refugees into everyday working life. Topics ranging from training to exam preparation are covered. The "Handbook for Companies" brochure covers issues relating to finding, getting to know and hiring employees with a history of flight.


In our calendar of events, you will find selected events in the coming months on the topics of skilled worker immigration, professional recognition and labor market integration.