International qualified professionals: bigger challenges for small companies

Germany has become an attractive destination for immigrants again. This is especially true for young, well-trained professionals from the EU, the Advisory Board of German Foundations on Migration and Integration has found in its latest annual review.

Especially smaller companies do not yet know how to tap the resources offered by international qualified professionals, and it still proves challenging to have foreign qualifications recognised.

Even within the European Union, there are many different educational and vocational training systems and language barriers which deter qualified professionals from moving between countries. Especially in regulated professions, the vocational qualification must be formally recognised before a person can work in that profession. This is why in April 2012 the German Recognition Act was created as a federal law designed to facilitate the assessment and recognition of foreign professional qualifications.

In parallel, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) created the BQ-Portal which is aimed at facilitating a uniform recognition process for non-academic professions. The portal enables assessment authorities such as chambers of trade, industry and commerce to network and exchange information. 12,555 people have used the platform so far, and 138 institutions have registered so that they can exchange information in a protected area which can only be accessed by registered users.

Companies, too, will have to continue adapting to changing parameters in the labour market, even more so than in the past. A BMWi survey on qualifications found that in 2012, only 7 percent of small companies but 40 percent of medium-sized companies employed professionals with foreign qualifications. For larger companies, this figure was 57 percent. This imbalance may be due to the fact that it is currently unclear who should pay for necessary further training measures, and larger companies are more prepared to face this challenge. In addition, there is often a lack of specific qualification and further training offers that are tailored to individual demands and needs – certainly a point that should be put on the political agenda.

IW Points of contact:
Lydia Malin, telephone: +49 (0)221 / 4981-850