The cost of advanced vocational training should not be underestimated, with courses, examinations and materials to be paid for, on top of living costs. The federal and state governments provide financial support. Since 1996 the BAföG advanced training loan scheme has been available to people undertaking advanced vocational training within Germany’s dual training system. Anybody undertaking a part- or full-time course at a technical school leading to a demanding advanced vocational examination is eligible for a loan, irrespective of age.
A good 650 million euros from federal and state governments
The Upgrading Training Assistance Act (Aufstiegsfortbildungsförderungsgesetz or AFBG) supports people preparing to take over 700 advanced qualifications in the field of technical and vocational education and training. Part of the assistance is awarded as a non-repayable grant and part as a low-interest loan. Federal government covers 78 per cent of the costs of the scheme and the federal states shoulder the other 22 per cent. In 2018 a total of 666 million euros was approved within the framework of the scheme.
The key new provisions
The German government now intends to make the BAföG advanced training loan scheme even more attractive, and has extended the range of services. In future anyone undertaking advanced vocational training after completing initial technical and vocational education or training will not only receive more money. Individuals can benefit more than once from the BAföG scheme.
The most important improvements:
- The income-dependent living costs grant is to be awarded as a 100% non-repayable grant (compared to 50% to date).
- The living costs payment per child and for a spouse (235 euros each) will be provided entirely as a grant meaning that it is not repayable (currently up to 45 or 50 per cent has been granted in the form of a loan).
- The child care allowance for single parents is to be increased from 130 to150 euros per month. And the age limit on children needing child care will rise from 10 to 14.
- In future the state will pay 50 per cent of the costs of training courses and examinations (currently 40 per cent), while the remaining sum will be made available in the form of a loan.
- The options for deferring or foregoing repayment are to be expanded.
- Career advancement step by step – individuals can benefit more than once from the scheme, i.e. at all three levels of training in the German system (for instance from journeyman to technician, from technician to master, from master to business economist).
Anja Karliczek – focus on advanced training
Federal Education Minister Anja Karliczek stressed that this is a package that significantly enhances the framework for career advancement. "It is a sign that people can become self-employed. We want to enable people to set up their own businesses without debt. These measures make advanced training more family friendly."
It is also "a clear signal that there should be a focus on advanced training", said the minister. In all the German government will be providing 350 million euros in this legislative period.
With the reform, the German government is sending an important signal that technical and vocational education and training is to be strengthened. At the same time, it is underlining the equal validity of vocational training and academic education.
Act to come into effect in August 2020
In 2018 some 167,000 people received a total of 641 million euros in assistance. The individual sums vary and depend on the situation of each applicant (marital status, number of children, income of applicant and income of spouse). Since the BAföG advanced training loan scheme was launched more than 2.8 million people have used it to advance their careers. A total of 9.2 billion euros has been paid out in assistance.