Recognition of foreign qualifications drives employment

Report to Cabinet Recognition of foreign qualifications drives employment

Nine out of every ten immigrants who have had their professional qualifications recognised in Germany are gainfully employed. The recognition procedure is paying off for businesses too, concludes a report now adopted by the Cabinet.

A carer looks after an elderly lady in a care home.

A great many qualified nursing and caring staff are needed in particular

Photo: Burkhard Peter

It is, for instance, helping redress the shortfall in doctors and nurses available on the German labour market.

Five years ago, the German Government passed a law regulating the recognition of non-German professional qualifications. Under the provisions of the law, immigrants are legally entitled to the recognition process, irrespective of their residence status or citizenship.

"The Federal Recognition Act is working. Recognition of their qualifications improves the situation of non-German specialists, who are often employed in lower level jobs until their qualifications are officially recognised," explained Federal Education Minister Johanna Wanka when the report was presented.

The recognition of qualifications help bridge the skills gap on the job market, where nursing staff and carers are in great demand, as are specialists in the electrical and electronics sector. The law strengthens controlled immigration.

Employment rises by fifty per cent

Once immigrants’ occupational qualifications have been officially recognised, their level of employment rises by more than fifty per cent. About 88 per cent of immigrants who have received official notification at the end of the recognition procedure are in work, according to a survey – the figure was 30 per cent lower for those who have not had their qualifications recognised.

Once their qualifications are recognised, immigrants also earn more: their monthly income rose on average by 1,000 euros or 40 per cent.

Recognition often precondition for exercising a profession
The Federal Recognition Act regulates recognition for more than 600 occupations subject to federal legal regulations, including 81 regulated professions (including physicians and nurses) and 41 occupations in skilled crafts and trades (covered by Handwerksordnung or Skilled Trades and Crafts Code).
In the case of the regulated professions, recognition is a precondition for exercising the profession in Germany. Since mid-2014 the federal states have also had recognition laws, covering for instance teachers, engineers, architects and social professions.

High level of interest in recognition procedure

More encouraging facts laid out in the report include the fact that the number of new requests for official recognition has risen significantly. Between 2012 and the end of 2015 more than 63,000 immigrants lodged a request for their qualifications to be recognised. More than three quarters of applicants are doctors or nurses.

The interest in official recognition of occupational qualifications rose markedly again in 2016 – the rise was particularly noticeable among refugees. Some 20,000 of them took advice from the experts of the IQ programme (Integration through Qualification). Syrians accounted for the lion’s share.

Asylum-seekers and refugees can apply at any time to have their qualifications officially recognised. This procedure is not tied to any specific residence qualification.

Qualifications are generally recognised

Between 2012 and 2015 more than 40,700 people (three quarters of all applicants) had their qualifications officially recognised as equivalent to German qualifications.

45 per cent of notifications are issued automatically. The automatic procedure currently applies, in line with EU directive on the recognition of professional qualifications, to the following professions: physicians, dentists, veterinarians, pharmacists, nurses, midwives and architects.

38 per cent of applicants received their recognition after a review of the paperwork. Another 15 per cent were granted recognition after undertaking a compensatory measure to bring their qualifications up to German level.

Federal Recognition Act has simplified and speeded up procedures
Under the provisions of the 2012 Federal Recognition Act, non-Germans are entitled to the recognition procedure, to ascertain if their professional qualifications are equivalent to a comparable German profession. The procedure must generally be completed within three months.

In about 3,500 cases the procedure resulted in a partial equivalence to a non-regulated reference profession. Applicants were then able to undertake upgrading to achieve full equivalence, or to use the partial recognition on the job market.

Recognition allowance for low earners

Almost 1,000 requests have already been received for the recognition allowance launched at the end of 2016 by the Federal Education Ministry.

The allowance addresses primarily low earners who were previously often unable to afford the recognition procedure.

Information and advice available everywhere

Important success factors are the information services available online at the "Recognition in Germany" website and the "BQ Portal (The information portal for foreign professional qualifications)". In December 2016 the 5 millionth visitor was recorded for the Recognition in Germany website.

The German Government has created the pro-recognition award "Wir für Anerkennung" in recognition of good practices and ideas on how businesses benefit from the recognition of professional qualifications. Federal Education Minister Johanna Wanka will be presenting the award on 21 June in Berlin.

The IQ programme – Integration through Qualification – offers on-the-spot advice in all 16 federal states. The IQ advice units also place applicants in upgrading measures. Applicants whose qualifications are recognised in part or not at all can undertake upgrading to make up gaps in their training or compensate for major differences between their own training and the equivalent training in Germany.