Many companies, craft businesses, hospitals and care facilities depend on experts from abroad. This is why the Federal Government introduced the Recognition Act in 2012 as a new instrument to secure the availability of skilled workers in Germany. The Act has proven effective: nine out of ten skilled professionals with foreign vocational qualifications find gainful employment after a successful recognition procedure.
Before the Recognition Act entered into force, only very few skilled professionals who had come to Germany could have their vocational qualifications assessed. The Recognition Act has changed that and introduces a standardized and transparent procedure for all professions governed by federal law. This provides the basis for establishing the equivalence of a foreign qualification with a corresponding German qualification. In many cases equivalence is a prerequisite for working in one's profession or starting a business in Germany. This is especially true for regulated professions such as trades that require authorization, for medical doctors, and for nurses or pharmacists. The Recognition Act improves opportunities for individuals who have gained professional qualifications abroad to practice their learned professions in Germany and thereby assures that these individuals can be better integrated into the labour market.
The recognition procedure is generally a prerequisite for the immigration of skilled staff from third countries, also in accordance with the Skilled Immigration Act which entered into force on 1 March 2020. This applies in particular to skilled professionals with vocational qualifications and for those seeking employment in regulated professions. The procedure creates transparency and provides quality assurance for both employer and employee.
Federal Law and Länder Responsibilities
Germany’s Recognition Act includes the Professional Qualifications Assessment Act (Berufsqualifikationsfeststellungsgesetz - BQFG) under the responsibility of the BMBF as well as provisions for the recognition of vocational qualifications in around 60 federal laws and regulations governing regulated professions, such as healthcare professions (Medical Practitioners’ Code/BÄO, Nursing Act/KrPflG) and master craftsmen (Trade and Crafts Code/HwO).
The Länder have also adopted their own legislation concerning the professions for which they are responsible (e.g. teachers, engineers, architects, occupations in social services).
Procedure meets with great appeal
Interest in the recognition procedure has been high. Many consultations have taken place. Thousands of applications for recognition have been made and the majority have been granted full equivalence.
Research on the Recognition Act shows that the law has proved to be a success! Nine out of ten skilled professionals with foreign vocational qualifications find gainful employment after the successful recognition of their qualifications. This means a robust increase in the employment rate by over 50 percent. According to current surveys, income increases by an average €860 per month after professional qualifications have been recognized. The Recognition Act is also having a positive impact on skilled immigration: More than one in every ten applications for recognition was filed from abroad – an opportunity which did not exist before the Recognition Act came into effect and whose numbers are rising steadily.
The high number of visits to the “Recognition in Germany” online portal is also a sign of the great interest in the procedure. About half the visitors to the site are located outside Germany. Advisory services centres and the hotline of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees are also reporting a massive rise in numbers of people seeking guidance. However, not every consultation necessarily results in an application for recognition. Many people take the advice to take up training or retraining measures.
Further Information and Guidance
The online portal “Recognition in Germany” and its online tool “Recognition Finder” Point the way to the appropriate competent authority and provide important information about the procedure for recognition of foreign professional qualifications. Information is available in Arabic, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.
The “Hotline Working and Living in Germany” provides guidance in German or English to interested professionals from Germany and abroad. The hotline is available Monday through Friday from 8.00 am to 4.00 pm CET under the telephone number +49 30 1815 1111.
The hotline also provides access to the new Central Advisory Service for the Recognition of Professional Qualifications (ZSBA) which was established on 1 February 2020. The ZSBA is part of the International Placement Services of the Federal Employment Agency in Bonn. The BMBF is providing funding for the ZSBA in a first phase for a period of four years.
The points of contact in the IQ network offer an initial consultation at the regional level and in all the Länder to individuals seeking recognition of professional qualifications. The Federal Government supports this service through its "Integration through Qualification (IQ)" joint funding programme operated by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Employment Agency.
The IQ Drop-In Centres Offer an initial consultation at the regional level and in all the Länder to individuals seeking recognition of their professional qualifications. The Federal Government supports this service through its "Integration through Qualification (IQ)" joint funding programme operated by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal Employment Agency.
Persons in low-income brackets can apply for the partial reimbursement of costs incurred for the recognition procedure. Reimbursement is possible for the costs incurred during the recognition procedure, consisting mainly of fees and translation costs, up to a maximum of €600 per person. A model has been piloted to provide financial support during the qualification measures. The aim is to tap the full potential of putting skilled staff with foreign professional qualifications into employment that is commensurate with their skills.
Interested parties can get in touch with the central funding agency:
Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (f-bb) gGmbH