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Newsletter No. 3/2019: Vocational training in Germany
Dear Reader,

Welcome to this new issue of the Make it in Germany newsletter. Keep up to date with the key developments in the field of skilled labour migration and integration in Germany. Your Make it in Germany team wish you an enjoyable read!
This issue contains:  
  • In the spotlight: Vocational training in Germany
  • Figure of the month: Number of new training agreements
  • Updates on Make it in Germany:
    • Information on the new Skilled Immigration Act
    • New expert videos: How can I extend my visa?
  • Guest article : Thuringia shares its experience on recruiting apprentices from abroad

In the spotlight

Vocational training in Germany 

Germany’s dual vocational training system enjoys an excellent reputation around the world. However, many companies are unable to find enough apprentices. Recruiting apprentices from abroad is therefore a good opportunity to counteract this development. It not only helps companies secure the skilled labour they need, but also provides individuals from abroad with long-term career prospects in Germany.
Germany has great demand for apprentices

Germany’s dual vocational training system is very diverse. Apprentices not only go to vocational schools where they acquire knowledge, they also start working in a company right away. This means that they earn their own money, whilst also obtaining valuable insights into the workings of a business. Many apprentices stay in the company where they have trained after gaining their qualification. The others find work at other companies. Around 1.3 million individuals are currently undergoing dual vocational training in Germany[1]. However, according to a recent survey of companies conducted by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, it is becoming ever more difficult for companies to fill all vacant training places. In 2017, more than 1 in 3 companies were unable to find enough candidates[2].
 Some industries find it harder to recruit apprentices than others. According to the Federal Employment Agency[3], this includes in particular skilled crafts businesses such as butchers, bakers and hairdressers, tilers, masons and painters, but also industrial and trade businesses, for example in hospitality and retail. Recruiting apprentices from abroad can therefore be a good option to fill vacant training places.
The legal requirements for recruiting apprentices from abroad

Germany offers young people from abroad the opportunity to undergo training and learn a profession. In 2018, 131,397 non-German nationals started vocational training in Germany. As shown in the table, the majority of these came from Turkey (22,905 persons), followed by Afghanistan (13,371 persons), Syria (12,762 persons), Italy (7,668 persons) and Kosovo (4,890 persons).
There are no restrictions on starting vocational training in Germany for EU nationals. They need to register with the local residence registration office, but require no residence permit. The same applies for nationals of the European Free Trade Association (Liechtenstein, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland). The nationals of all other states (so called third countries) require a residence permit to take up vocational training in Germany. According to Section 17(1) of the Residence Act, nationals of these countries are currently required to prove that they have been offered a concrete training place and need to obtain an authorisation from the Federal Employment Agency[4]. In 2018, around 18,592 third country nationals held a residence permit for the purpose of taking up vocational training. This corresponded to a share of 8.6 per cent of all third country nationals residing in Germany for reasons of education (university studies, further training courses etc.)[5].
In order to be able to successfully complete training in Germany, candidates require good or excellent German language skills. German is the common language used by companies, vocational schools and colleges and all examinations are also held in German. Candidates from abroad can prepare for this by starting to learn German in their home country, for example at the Goethe Institute. German language skills are particularly important for non-EU nationals as they often need to prove their proficiency in German when they apply for a visa. Employers and apprenticeship placement staff should take this into account whenever they recruit candidates from abroad and help these learn German.     
Job prospects for apprentices upon completion of training

Apprentices who have successfully completed their training in Germany have a wide range of opportunities. They can work in the profession they have learned without any restrictions being imposed on them. As they have obtained their qualification in Germany, no recognition of their professional qualifications is required. Around two thirds of all companies employ their former apprentices once these have successfully completed training. Many are given a permanent employment contract and continue to work in the company as fully qualified professionals.

Figure of the month
521,900 persons
concluded a new training agreement in 2018. According the data provided by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), this was 6,200 or 1.2% more than in the previous year.

Apprentices who have completed their training can also further specialise by undertaking advanced training in their field of work. For example, skilled crafts professionals can take further training courses to qualify as a master craftsman. After completing the further training, many master craftsmen obtain a senior position or start their own business.

Further Information on Make it in Germany

Vocational training in Germany
Visa for the purpose of taking up training

As the Skilled Immigration Act enters into force, what will change for apprentices from third countries?

Possibility to come to Germany to look for a training place: Under the Skilled Immigration Act, young persons from third countries can obtain a visa to travel to Germany to look for a training place and stay there for up to six months. Apart from being able to sustain themselves financially, training candidates must
  • be no older than 25
  • hold a school leaving certificate that qualifies them to attend university in Germany or their home country, and
  • have good German language skills.
 The Skilled Immigration Act will enter into force on 1 March 2020.

Updates on Make it in Germany

Information on the new Skilled Immigration Act

Have you already heard of the new Skilled Immigration Act? From 2020 onwards, this Act will improve the provisions for qualified professionals from countries outside the European Union. Stay on top of the latest developments ↗

New expert videos: How can I extend my visa?
What do you do once you have completed your studies in Germany? Or if you have come to Germany to look for work or travelled there on a 3-month working visa? Our expert from the Essen immigration office provides you with reliable information on how you can extend your visa or residence permit in these cases. Watch the videos here ↗ 

Guest article

Thuringia shares its experience on recruiting apprentices from abroad

Training young people helps companies obtain the skilled labour they need. The consequences of demographic change are already having a visible impact on the training market. This means that the business community needs to find new ways to attract skilled labour. The German Land of Thuringia, for example, has launched a funding programme that has enabled local companies hire apprentices from Vietnam. Kirstin v. Graefe, who works at the Thuringian Agency For Skilled Personnel Marketing (ThaFF) at Landesentwicklungsgesellschaft Thüringen mbH (email: kirstin.graefe@leg-thueringen.de) tells us more about the imitative.  
1. Why is the programme focusing on attracting apprentices from Vietnam, and what partners are you working with?

Vietnam and Thuringia have been working closely together on training and employment for many decades. Businesses and customers in Thuringia appreciate working with Vietnamese employees. It was the businesses from southern Thuringia which had the idea to focus on apprentices from Vietnam. They wanted to try something new and took a creative approach. 

The chambers of crafts and the chamber of commerce of southern Thuringia joined forces, resulting in a strong and successful alliance. Landesentwicklungsgesellschaft Thüringen and its representative in Vietnam were brought on board. Together, the partners were able to really make a difference, with the project becoming ever more successful each year.
2. What are the requirements for apprentices from Vietnam and what fields are
they being trained in?

All the apprentices have excellent language skills, they are confident and motivated to live in a country that is very different from their own. The candidates take one year of German lessons whilst they are still in Vietnam. They need to achieve the B2 level – which is very sophisticated. They are also taught a lot about the environment in which they will live and train and they establish contacts with companies in southern Thuringia that may be interested in training them. To complete their language course, applicants need to take a German exam at the Goethe Institute. Once they have passed the exam, they decide what profession they want to learn. They work in many different fields, particularly in construction, as vehicle mechanics, in the food trade, as metal workers, in electronics and building services engineering and the hospitality sector.
3. How successful has the programme been thus far and what challenges have you had to master?

We are now in the third year of our pilot project. The programme is successful, with the number of apprentices rising each year. Managing the application and visa procedures can be challenging, but I think we are doing quite well. In order for apprentices to be able to successfully complete their training here in Thuringia, it is important for them to be well-integrated – this means helping them get a good start here in Germany. Apprentices can obtain support from their companies and colleagues, and there are also local partners and projects that offer social and educational assistance. We continue to learn from one another and with one another. Apprentices who are in their second or third year of training can also help apprentices who are just starting out.
4. Will the programme be continued?

The project has proven to be successful and will be continued after the pilot phase in southern Thuringia ends. From August 2019, we will receive funding for it under a new programme from the Thuringia Ministry for Economic Affairs, Science and Digital Society. This means that companies that are based in the free state of Thuringia will continue to be able to attract young people from around the world to come train in Germany. There is great demand for skilled labour in Thuringia, so that the Land can guarantee almost all apprentices a job once they have completed their training.

For more information on the programme for the recruitment of apprentices from abroad and projects undertaken with other countries, contact the Thuringian Agency For Skilled Personnel Marketing (ThaFF) – Thuringia’s Welcome Center: www.thaff-thueringen.de.


[1]The central register of foreign nationals (AZR) is one of the largest automated registers used by the German public administration. It is a database containing data on foreign nationals living in Germany for a period of move than 90 days.

[2] Reference: Eurostat, March 2019: https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/pdfscache/1275.pdf 

[3] BAMF (2019): Monitoring freedom of movement – Migration of EU citizens to Germany – Annual Report for 2017: http://www.bamf.de/SharedDocs/Anlagen/DE/Publikationen/Broschueren/freizuegigkeitsmonitoring-jahresbericht-2017.pdf?__blob=publicationFile 

[4] Current as of 30 June 2018; Reference: central register of foreign nationals (AZR) as cited in: Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, 2019: Monitoring freedom of movement. Migration of EU citizens to Germany – Report for the first semester of 2018, http://www.bamf.de/SharedDocs/Anlagen/DE/Publikationen/Broschueren/freizuegigkeitsmonitoring-halbjahresbericht-2018.html;jsessionid=711127F52778F9985771657EDD9EBD75.2_cid359?nn=11263428 

[5] Statistics taken from the central register of foreign nationals (AZR) as cited in: Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, 2019: Monitoring freedom of movement. Migration of EU citizens to Germany – Report for the first semester of 2018, http://www.bamf.de/SharedDocs/Anlagen/DE/Publikationen/Broschueren/freizuegigkeitsmonitoring-halbjahresbericht-2018.html;jsessionid=711127F52778F9985771657EDD9EBD75.2_cid359?nn=11263428 

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