Foreign skilled workers wait months for their qualifications to be recognised

Shortage of skilled workers in Germany

It is still difficult for foreign employees to have their qualifications recognized in Germany.

(Photo: dpa)

Berlin Germany is making progress in recognizing foreign professional qualifications more quickly – in many cases, however, it still takes far too long. This is shown by a study by the Federal Institute for Vocational Training (BIBB), which is available to the Handelsblatt.

According to the BIBB data, only 59 percent of the applications submitted for the dual training occupations in 2020 received a decision within the statutory period of a maximum of three months. After all: 17 percentage points more than in 2017.

There was no improvement in the recognition of professions regulated by the state, such as doctors or nurses, for applicants from non-EU countries. The deadline here is four months. However, the rate of timely notifications stagnates at almost 75 percent.

In order to speed up the process of recognition and, above all, the compensatory measures that are intended to close any gaps in knowledge, BIBB President Friedrich Hubert Esser calls for “sufficient and comprehensive qualification offers in order to be able to integrate the urgently needed skilled workers more quickly into the labor market”. For this, the processors would also have to exchange experiences better.

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The primary concern here is the assessment of foreign training courses, which are different in every country. In general, the authorities need more staff for the recognition. Esser also criticizes the lack of transparency in the application requirements – and calls for uniform, clear rules nationwide.

37,000 applications decided in 2020

The recognition of foreign professional qualifications is important in order to be able to attract new skilled workers to Germany. A total of almost 37,000 applications were decided in 2020. And the number is growing every year – since 2012 there have been a total of 205,000 applications.

In just over half of the cases, the equivalence of foreign professional qualifications is recognized in Germany: in 2020, this applied to 54 percent. Nine out of 100 applicants were at least certified as “partial equivalence”. Only 2.6 percent of the notifications were negative.

In addition, a compensatory measure is required in a good third of all cases. This can be a course or supervised work. This adjustment takes an average of 15 months, in many cases much longer – mainly because there are not enough offers.

Nancy Faeser and Hubertus Heil want to make immigration easier

The recognition of foreign professional qualifications, which was introduced in 2012, is – in addition to the issuing of visas – a central bottleneck for the immigration of skilled workers. The federal government therefore wants to further simplify immigration law. Had initial thoughts on this Interior Minister Nancy Faeser and Labor Minister Hubertus Heil (both SPD) in July in a guest article for the Handelsblatt sketched.

The two ministers wrote: “Our immigration system is still too sluggish, too bureaucratic, too repellent.” They therefore want to give foreign skilled workers with a job offer the opportunity to come to Germany and work and then complete the recognition procedure for the professional qualification with the support of the employer catch up.

>> Read here: “How to attract more workers”, by Nancy Faeser and Hubertus Heil

In their contribution, the ministers described how this should work, using the example of a fictitious Jordanian draftsman with several years of professional experience who, after a digital job interview, successfully applied for a job with a German construction company.

The company promises the draughtswoman to employ her and to bear the costs for the recognition process. In contrast to the applicable law, proof of a degree and professional experience are then sufficient for entry.

In certain cases, the current law does not require proof of a formal qualification at all. For example, the so-called Western Balkans regulation enables citizens from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia to come to Germany to work, regardless of their qualifications, if they have an employment contract. Even IT specialists with a job offer only have to prove professional experience, there is no need to prove a formal qualification.

Immigration is seen as a key tool against the worsening labor shortage. At the beginning of the week, Minister of Labor Heil presented the new monitoring of skilled workers, which the research institutes BIBB, IAB and GWS have created on behalf of his department.

Accordingly, the skills gap in the medium-term forecast up to 2026 adds up to 240,000 people. However, it is less than half the size projected a year ago. On the one hand, this is because Ukrainian refugees are expected to cover part of the need for skilled workers, and on the other hand, because the forecast for economic growth – and thus also for the need for workers – is significantly lower than a year ago.

More: Foreign students – the untapped potential for Germany’s job market

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