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03.04.2013

Recognition Act Proves Effective

Press release BMBF 025/2013

Roughly 30,000 applications filed for assessment of equivalence of foreign professional qualifications / Wanka: Valuing personal achievement

One year after the entry into force of the Recognition Act, Federal Education Minister Johanna Wanka has been reviewing progress: "The law has proved effective. It is estimated that roughly 30,000 applications were filed. In most cases, equivalence of foreign professional qualifications was established and recognition granted. This contributes considerably to securing an adequate supply of skilled labour." The law has introduced a paradigm shift. "We focus on the skills and potential of migrants. The law provides for the recognition of their qualifications and at the same time it shows our respect for their personal achievement", Minister Wanka said.

The Science and Economics Minister of the Land of Saxony-Anhalt, Birgitta Wolff, stated: "It has become clear that there is also great demand for the assessment of professional qualifications governed by Land law, including school and nursery school teachers and engineers. Acting on the decision of the Conference of the Heads of Government of December 2010, the Länder have speedily taken steps to ensure that people are equally entitled to assessment of their foreign qualifications for professions governed by Land law." Recognition laws have already taken effect in the Länder of Hamburg, Saarland, Lower Saxony, Hesse and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. "The Land parliaments of Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia are currently debating relevant bills. The bills drafted in Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein are on their way to parliament", Minister Wolff said.

Peter Clever, member of the Management Team of the Confederation of German Employers' Associations (BDA): "The Recognition Act helps not only the holders of foreign training certificates but also the companies which urgently need skilled labour. In view of the serious skills shortage in the health sector, the Länder must now take care to ensure a proper and consistent approach to implementation. Germany needs a culture of open doors: When contacting German authorities and companies, foreigners should at once feel that they are welcome and their skills needed in Germany."

The law to improve the assessment and recognition of foreign professional qualifications, which took effect on 1 April 2012, introduced a universal legal entitlement to assessment of foreign qualifications – regardless of the applicant's migrant status and nationality. Applications can be filed within Germany and from abroad. Establishment of equivalence under the Recognition Act applies throughout Germany.

Most of the estimated 30,000 applications for assessment refer to professions which can only be practised in Germany by people with recognized qualifications. The Länder, which are responsible for the implementation of federal provisions governing these professions, estimate that more than 20,000 applications referring to the health professions (e.g. doctor, physiotherapist, pharmacist, midwife) were filed by December 2012. Figures are already available for two professions: Doctors and nurses alone filed almost 12,000 applications between April 2012 and late February 2013.

There is also great interest in the assessment of foreign training certificates for occupations which require formal training under the German dual system of vocational education and training (e.g. commercial occupations, mechanics and electricians). The Chambers which are responsible for the procedure in this area have received a total of almost 4,000 applications since April 2012. Most applicants have asked for the assessment and recognition of commercial, metalworking or electronics qualifications.

Minister Wanka: "I am glad to say that full or partial equivalence with the corresponding German profession or occupation was established in most cases." For example, 66% of the notifications issued by the Chambers certified full equivalence of foreign qualifications, while 30% certified partial equivalence. Only 4% of the applications were rejected. "Even the establishment of partial equivalence is a considerable advantage for applicants", Wanka said. The notification describes the applicant's qualifications and the points in which they differ from German qualifications in sufficiently great detail to convince most employers of the quality of foreign training. It provides a good basis for further professional training.

The Federal Cabinet recently adopted legislation amending the employment regulations as another major step towards securing the skills base which links up with the Recognition Act: Foreigners without a university degree but with skills that are in short supply will in future be allowed to come to Germany if the equivalence of their qualifications has been established under the Recognition Act. "This positive development is encouraging. We urgently need foreign skills in Germany", Minister Wanka concluded.

Complete representative data on the implementation of the law will be presented with the official federal statistics in late 2013. The data that are already available can be found at http://www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de/html/de/daten_und_statistik.php.