Uniform, Transparent, Effective? Foreign Credentials in Germany

October 25th, 2012

Although Germany can look back on a decades-long history of immigration, the subject of the accreditation, or ‘recognition’ (in German: Anerkennung) of international qualifications has received growing attention over roughly the last five years. Daria Braun of the Otto Benecke Stiftung e.V. shares her analysis of the current situation.

The issue of accreditation, or the recognition of professional qualifications acquired abroad, is becoming a hot topic as demographic change continues to increase the shortage of skilled workers that is already apparent in Germany and other European countries. According to the calculations of IW, the Cologne Institute for Economic Research [Wirtschaft Köln), in 2011 there was already a shortage of over 158,000 highly qualified workers, particularly in the industrial sector of MINT professions (mathematics, informatics, natural sciences, and technology). In order to counteract this shortage of skilled workers, in June 2011 the German federal government reached an agreement on five strategies for recruiting skilled workers. Included in its strategic recommendations was the improved, full utilization of domestic labour potential, particularly that existing in the population of Germans with immigrant background, which in 2009 represented approximately 15.7 million people. While some three million people in this group had occupational qualifications acquired abroad, only about 500,000 of these had had their qualifications recognized.

Educational certificates and professional credentials acquired abroad often cannot be put to use in Germany; such qualifications are either not recognized or accreditation procedures are wanting. This means that many educated foreigners are employed below their level of skill and qualifications, resulting not only in the loss of valuable human capital but also making the integration of the respective individual significantly more difficult.

Against this background, in 2011 the German federal government introduced legislation leading to the passage of the “Act for the Improvement of the Establishment and Recognition of Occupational Qualifications Acquired Abroad” (in short, the Professional Qualifications Assessment Act, or the BQFG). The BQFG received parliamentary approval on November 4, 2011, and went into effect on April 1, 2012, and aims to make the practice of accrediting qualifications acquired abroad more uniform, transparent and effective, thus enabling better integration of the holders of such qualifications into the German labour market.

This is an important step towards the recognition of foreign credentials and the importance of the contribution of internationally trained talent and skill to the German economy and society.

This overview of the new legislation and related issues published in July 2012 as part of a new policy brief  and entitled, Einheitlicher, transparenter, effektiver? Das Verfahren zur Bewertung von im Ausland erworbenen Qualifikationen im Wandel (English: Procedures for the Assessment of Qualifications Acquired Abroad in Transition).

First published by the bpb (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung) and IMIS 

More Stories - From October 2012

On the Trail of Good Ideas with Ayse Özbabacan: Toronto to Stuttgart

Good Ideas about successful integration are traveling from city to city. This month meet Ayse...

Building a Movement of Diverse Decision-Makers Internationally

By Tina Edan, Maytree Foundation It was an exciting moment when Maytree’s DiverseCity onBoard program won a United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Intercultural Innovation...

Los Angeles to Adopt New Haven’s Municipal ID Card

What began as a ground-breaking initiative in New Haven by Mayor John DeStefano looks like it has the makings of a movement. Los Angeles is...

Talking Cities of Inclusion: From Toronto to Almeria, Spain

Alejandra Bravo, Manager of Maytree’s School4Civics (Toronto) shares impressions and lessons learned from Almeira, Spain,...

Webinar Video: Investing in Urban Prosperity in Munich and Philadelphia

In our last webinar Investing in Urban Prosperity: Municipal Leadership in Immigrant Integration, presenters from the City of Munich and Philadelphia shared tips...

Good Ideas in the News: October 2012

“Investing in the Human Capital of Immigrants, Strengthening Regional Economies.” Audrey Singer of the Brookings Institute examines how regions can invest in the...
Looking for Past Issues?


Maytree