Still room for improvement

BIBB evaluation of professional and occupational recognition for the immigration of skilled workers

03/2019 | Bonn, 30.01.2019

Still room for improvement

Skilled workers from a non-EU country who wish to come to Germany for employment purposes usually need to make an application for recognition of their professional or vocational qualifications prior to entering the country. An investigation conducted by the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) shows that recognition of applications submitted from abroad is already working well. The stakeholders involved, however, believe that there is still room for improvement.

The official statistics record that 13,149 applications were submitted from abroad in professions regulated by federal law between 2012 and 2017. Most of these applications (69%) originated from the EU, the European Economic Area or Switzerland. 31 percent were from a third country. As is the case with applications from within Germany, the competent bodies predominantly arrive at positive outcomes following the equivalence assessment procedure. Such a result may take the form of full or partial equivalence. In 2017, full equivalence was ascertained for 58% of the total of 1,701 applications received from third countries. In respect of EU qualifications, the corresponding figure was even as high as 88% of 1,368 applications. The healthcare sector accounted for the vast majority of all applications. The basis for qualified economic migration was thus established in many cases. Some skilled workers completed adaptation training in Germany for this purpose.

However, the interviews with stakeholders involved conducted for the investigation by the BIBB Recognition Monitoring Project also indicate areas where leverage should be applied in future. There are a multitude of competent bodies with different respective requirements, and it is not always easy to establish which body is responsible at a local level. Waiting times are long in some instances, and it is difficult to find suitable adaptation training in a number of professions. The immigration process also displays potential for improvement in overall terms. The spectrum here encompasses the initial point of contact, preparation, the issuing of visas, professional or occupational recognition, and integration in Germany.

The BIBB investigation also demonstrates that immigration linked to recognition takes place at different speeds depending on starting position and support circumstances. Both state placement projects, such as via the Federal Employment Agency, and private sector placement agencies have proven to be helpful in this process. Good guidance and proper preparation of documentation represent the first step towards accelerating the procedure, continuing then with shorter waiting times at visa offices and direct contact with competent bodies.

With regard to applications from abroad, the BIBB survey calls for consideration to be given to aspects such as standardised requirements regarding documentation to be submitted and language levels. Two further things deemed to be helpful are the establishment of a central body to ensure that applications are forwarded to the right competent bodies and the initial submission of applications via electronic means with a facility to file necessary additional evidence at a later date.

Background information: The Federal Recognition Act entered into force in 2012 with the dual aim of improving the integration of persons with foreign qualifications already living in Germany and of strengthening immigration, particularly in professions and occupations where there are marked shortages of skilled workers. The Recognition Monitoring Project at BIBB works on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) to support implementation of the law.

Detailed (German language) information is provided in the specialist paper “Berufliche Anerkennung im Einwanderungsprozess – Stand und Herausforderungen bei der Antragstellung aus dem Ausland. Ergebnisse des BIBB-Anerkennungsmonitorings [Professional recognition in the immigration process – status and challenges of submitting applications from abroad. Results of the BIBB Recognition Monitoring Project]”. A draft version of this paper may be downloaded free of charge atwww.bibb.de/anerkennung-einwanderungsprozess. The final version is expected to be available from April 2019. Statistical evaluations of the 13,149 foreign applications received have been published in a further specialist paper entitled “Anerkennung ausländischer Berufsqualifikationen: Anträge aus dem Ausland im Spiegel der amtlichen Statistik. Ergebnisse des BIBB-Anerkennungsmonitorings [Recognition of foreign professional and vocational qualifications – applications from abroad as reflected in the official statistics. Results of the BIBB Recognition Monitoring Project]”. A preliminary version of this paper may also be downloaded free of charge at www.bibb.de/anerkennung-auslandsantraege.

Specimen copy requested if printed.