The Recognition Act: A successful integration effort?
The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) is in charge of the recognition of foreign professional skills and certificates so people from abroad can get a job in an area where they already hold a qualification. But why is the proof of those documentation’s originality so important for entering the German labour market? In Germany, an official recognition is required for certain occupations (e.g. doctor, teacher or nurse) and, in any event, it can improve your chances in the local job market. To find out more about the precise processes behind the goodwill, “New in BW” decided to talk with Julia Lubjuhn and Johanna Elsässer, both responsible for the website “Recognition in Germany”.
When and under what circumstances did this procedure arise?
The Recognition Acts simplifies and standardizes procedures for the evaluation of foreign professional or vocational qualifications and opens up such procedures to target groups previously not entitled to pursue such a route, for example people from non-EU-countries. The “Federal Recognition Act” entered into force on the 1st of April 2012 and is an omnibus act. It comprises several laws or amendments to existing laws and relates to over 600 occupations governed by Federal Law. What must be noted here is that the Federal States are responsible for many occupations themselves and have passed their own regulations governing these occupations. The Recognition Act has, nevertheless, two main objectives applying to all Federal States: Securing of skilled workers and Integration. It is, therefore, an important building block for securing the requirement for qualified workers in Germany and fosters the integration of migrants into the world of work.
Which requirements must be fulfilled to opt for the recognition procedure?
The preconditions for a recognition procedure are quite simple. You must be able to show that you have completed a professional or vocational qualification which was not obtained in Germany. And you must also have the intention to work in Germany. It is not necessary to hold German citizenship or a residence permit for the country in order to obtain recognition of your professional or vocational competences. The relevant authority in charge will then check whether your foreign professional or vocational qualification is equivalent to the corresponding German one.
“It’s not necessary to hold German citizenship or a residence permit for Germany in order to obtain recognition”
There is also no need for you to be resident in Germany at the time when you apply. You may submit your application before entering the country from abroad. Prior to initiating a recognition procedure, you should, however, clarify whether you are entitled to migrate to Germany in order to work here. Even if documentation of the qualification should be missing or be incomplete, there are ways to get your application recognized: a skills analysis can help you demonstrate your professional competences in a practical way.
What services exactly does „Recognition in Germany“ offer to newcomers?
“Recognition in Germany” is the information portal of the German Federal Government about the recognition of foreign professional qualifications. It is intended primarily for persons who have acquired their diploma or professional qualification abroad and want to find out whether they need an official “certificate of recognition” in order to pursue their profession in Germany. The portal is available in German and English. The most important facts on the topic of recognition of foreign professional qualifications are also presented in Arabic, Greek, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Spanish and Turkish. For mobile use, there is also the “Recognition in Germany” app, which offers the information in seven languages: German, English, Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Pashto, and Tigrinya.
Anyone interested in having their qualifications recognised needs to submit an application to a body (public authority or chamber) responsible for the procedure in Germany. Just a few clicks in the “Recognition Finder” are enough to find the competent authority for the respective occupation. In Germany there is no nationwide authority responsible for processing the applications. The responsible body depends on the place of residence, and for each occupation and each Federal State the system is different.
What professions are included in this program?
We have about 1,000 professions in our Recognition Finder. A recognition may be required in certain occupations, for example, in regulated occupations such as medical doctor, teacher or geriatric nurse, or it could improve one’s chances in the German labour market. The superordinate Federal Act covers the dual training occupations, the master craftsmen occupations, other further training qualifications and additional occupations regulated by sectoral laws such as medical doctors and lawyers.
“The Federal Act covers the dual training occupations, the master craftsmen occupations, other further training qualifications and additional occupations (doctors, lawyers…)”
At the Federal State level, the corresponding “Länder Regulations” control the recognition of occupations under the scope of responsibility of each Federal State’s government. Such occupations are for example nursery teachers, social education workers or engineers. However, a recognition is not possible for foreign university degrees which do not lead to a regulated profession. Nevertheless, you may have your degree evaluated in order to improve your chances of employment.
Is previous work experience recognized?
The equivalence check takes place on the basis of stipulated formal criteria such as content and duration of training. Any relevant occupational experience you may have is also taken into account.
How many people have you helped so far with the recognition of their credentials?
According to the statistics, 63.400 applications for recognition were issued from 2012 to 2015 – those numbers only are for federally regulated professions, e.g. many health professions. The report “Together for the future” will be published in English soon, also the evaluation of the accomplishments and challenges of the Recognition Act. The German version can be already found in our website.
What has been the biggest challenge of this program?
In general, one of the biggest challenges of the recognition procedures is the consistent legal execution in all the 16 Länder (Federal States): there is sometimes not enough staff in the relevant authorities in charge of the procedures. Another problem is the different handling of language requirements in relation to the recognition procedures in the Federal States.
But the biggest challenge of the website “Recognition in Germany“ has been to collect and keep up-to-date all the relevant information concerning the recognition procedure for all relevant professions and to implement them in the huge database of the “Recognition Finder”. We have to be in close contact with all relevant stakeholders, such as ministries, competent authorities, chambers etc. Then, of course, it is a big challenge to provide all this information in nine languages.
Which aspects should foreign workers who want to work in Germany improve?
As we are not experts on the education system every country has, we find it hard to determine what professionals from abroad should do if they want to work in Germany. In general, though, we suggest some easy steps. Firstly, to start learning German and to check for job opportunities on “Make it in Germany” website. Then, it is advisable to visit also “Recognition in Germany” web in order to find out if you need a recognition in the profession that you want to work in through the “Recognition-Finder”. Any newcomer who has further questions can us via email.
“The Recognition Acts enables migrants to be accorded greater esteem for their achievements in life”
What does the word integration mean to your organization?
The recognition of professional or vocational qualifications fosters the integration of migrants into the world of work. Furthermore, it enables the more effective introduction of skill potential these professionals display to the German labour market. Furthermore, and most importantly for the human psyche, the Recognition Acts also enables migrants to be accorded greater esteem for their achievements in life.