Germany popular with foreign skilled workers

New recognition figures reflect huge interest in skilled worker immigration - strong growth in nursing occupations

Increasing numbers of people are using the opportunities provided by the federal government's Recognition Act and are having their foreign vocational qualifications assessed. The annual number of applications has doubled since the Recognition Act entered into force. This is shown in the latest figures published by the Federal Statistical Office. Between 2012 and 2018, a total of around 140,700 applications were submitted. Federal Minister of Education and Research Anja Karliczek commented:

"There is huge interest in employment in Germany among qualified skilled workers. This is shown in the latest figures from the Federal Statistical Office. The recognition procedure for verifying foreign vocational qualifications serves as a reliable guide for skilled workers and companies. It ensures that the qualification requirements for practising a profession in Germany are met. At the same time, it also enables immigrants to be quickly integrated in qualified employment, thereby helping to strengthen Germany as a location for business.

From next year the Skilled Immigration Act will create further opportunities to access the labour market for people with vocational qualifications, proving the equivalence of foreign qualifications with German standards will again become increasingly important. The increasing demand for vocational recognition should spur us on to develop the recognition system further. For me, it is important that the recognition procedure becomes even quicker, more transparent and that more people become aware of it. We are therefore creating a one-stop contact point for skilled workers interested in immigration. Together with the Federal Ministry of Labour and the Federal Employment Agency, we are setting up the Central Service Centre for Vocational Recognition. This will provide information on issues relating to recognition on an individual basis and support with the procedure.

The recognition procedure checks whether a foreign vocational qualification is equivalent to the respective German reference occupation. In 2018, around 29,200 equivalence checks were applied for in occupations which fall under federal competence (an increase of 16.8% compared to the previous year).

In the healthcare and nursing occupations, the figure actually grew by more than 30 per cent to almost 11,500 applications (2017: well over 8,800 applications), making it by far the most popular occupation. Almost half of the qualifications in this case had been obtained in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia or the Philippines. In addition to this, there were more than 9,900 applications for occupations under federal state competence, such as engineer or teacher. Overall, well over 39,000 new applications were submitted over the past year.

According to recognition statistics for federal state occupations, full equivalence was established in 52.5 per cent of completed procedures in 2018. No equivalence was recognised in only 2.3 per cent of notices. The remaining proportion (9.7 per cent) was accounted for by partial equivalence in so-called non-regulated professions (e.g. electronics technicians or management assistants) and by the need for a compensation measure (35.5 per cent) such as a knowledge test, in particular for medical healthcare professions, which had not yet been completed by the end of the reporting year.

In more than two-thirds of applications submitted in 2018 (69.4 per cent), the original vocational qualification was obtained in a third country, mainly Syria (3177 applications), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2880 applications) and Serbia (2472 applications). The Philippines are also to be noted. Application numbers more than doubled from 744 applications in 2017 to more than 1605 applications in 2018.

There is a legal entitlement to a recognition procedure regardless of the place of residence. People living abroad are therefore also able to submit an application for recognition. In 2018, significantly more skilled workers made use of this opportunity (5,958 compared to 3,597 in the previous year)."

Source: (press release of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research), revised by iMOVE, November 2019