NQF country report

A number of reforms and policy developments are under way in Germany to address current and future challenges in education and training and skills development (Eurydice, 2021) ([1] https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/ongoing-reforms-and-policy-developments-25_en). German federal and regional levels jointly set digital strategies, with substantial investments in digital education, digital infrastructure of schools and digital skills of teachers. In March 2019, a Digital pact was concluded between the Federal Government and Länder that offers a federal contribution of EUR 5 billion over the next five years to equip schools with hardware. Although students have above-average ICT skills, gaps remain in the digital infrastructure of schools and digital skills of teachers. An aging teaching force is a further challenge (European Commission, 2020).

Germany has one of the highest employment rates for recent graduates (ISCED 3-8) in the EU, at 92.7% in 2019; among highly qualified individuals (ISCED levels 5-8) this is even higher at 94.7%. Although participation in early childhood education and care for older children is high, it has barely progressed for younger children (under three years old). Tertiary education attainment and participation of adults in lifelong learning have increased in recent years, but the two indicators remain below EU average levels. Germany continues to have the highest proportion of STEM graduates in the EU. Performance on basic skills is above the EU average but has somewhat declined over years. The proportions of 15-year-olds underachieving in reading (20.7%), science (19.6%) and maths (21.1%) have increased since 2017 but remain slightly below the EU average (22.5%, 22.3% and 22.9% respectively in 2019). Socioeconomic and migrant background have a strong impact on education outcomes and disadvantaged students tend to be more concentrated in certain schools. Early leaving from school has been stable since 2015, just above the EU target, with an increasing gender gap; it is 10.3% in 2019, close to Germany's national target of 10%. Despite the rising number of VET learners at 0.9%, the number of new apprenticeship contracts dropped by 1.2% in 2019. Germany is thus modernising VET to align it with future requirements. Several new pieces of legislation came into force in 2020. In January 2020 the new Vocational training Act ([2] https://www.bmbf.de/upload_filestore/pub/Das_neue_Berufsbildungsgesetz_BBiG.pdf) came into force, introducing a minimum training wage for apprenticeships, emphasising equivalence between regulated further vocational qualifications and academic qualifications, expanding part-time vocational training to new target groups and facilitating recognition of prior learning. In April 2020, the act on the promotion of continuing vocational training during times of structural change and further development of funding of vocational training assistance was adopted ([3] Gesetz zur Förderung der beruflichen Weiterbildung im Strukturwandel und zur Weiterentwicklung der Ausbildungsförderung [Act to promote continuing vocational training in structural change and to further develop support for training]. https://www.bgbl.de/xaver/bgbl/text.xav?SID=&tf=xaver.component.Text_0&tocf=&qmf=&hlf=xaver.component.Hitlist_0&bk=bgbl&start=%2F%2F*%5B%40node_id%3D%27818037%27%5D&skin=pdf&tlevel=-2&nohist=1); investing in upskilling and reskilling helps to prepare for future challenges (European Commission, 2020).

Germany has been implementing an eight-level national qualifications framework (NQF) for lifelong learning based on learning outcomes (German qualifications framework for lifelong learning (Deutscher Qualifikationsrahmen für lebenslanges Lernen (DQR)), including all levels and types of qualifications from formal education and training. The framework is fully operational. It was given official status in May 2013 by the joint resolution of the Standing Conference of the Ministers for Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the conference of Ministers for Economics of the Länder and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy ([4] Joint resolution on the German qualifications framework for lifelong learning: https://www.bmbf.de/files/Gemeinsamer_Beschluss_final_ohne_Unterschriften.pdf ).

The DQR was referenced to the European qualifications framework (EQF) in 2012. The qualifications framework for higher education – now an integral part of the DQR for lifelong learning – was self-certified against QF-EHEA in 2008.

The DQR aims to increase transparency and comparability of German qualifications and overall coherence and permeability (Durchlässigkeit) in the education, training and qualification system. Learners should be allowed to move between levels and institutions according to their knowledge, skills and competences, and be less restrained by formal, institutional barriers.

More specifically, the DQR aims to ([5] German EQF referencing report (BMBF and KMK, 2013). https://europa.eu/europass/system/files/2020-06/German%20Referencing%20Report%20.pdf):

  1. increase transparency in German qualifications and aid their recognition elsewhere in Europe;
  2. support learner and employee mobility between Germany and other European countries and within Germany;
  3. improve visibility of equivalence and differences between qualifications and promote permeability;
  4. promote reliability, transfer opportunities and quality assurance;
  5. increase skills orientation of qualifications;
  6. reinforce learning outcomes orientation of qualification processes;
  7. improve opportunities for validation and recognition of non-formal and informal learning;
  8. encourage and improve access to, and participation in, lifelong learning.

Functions and policy objectives have not changed over the years (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020).

An eight-level structure has been adopted to cover all main types of German qualifications.

Level descriptors describe the competences required to obtain a qualification. The overall structure is guided by the established German terminological and conceptual approach, referring to the ability to act (Handlungskompetenz) (BMBF and KMK, 2013). The DQR differentiates between two categories of competence: professional and personal. The term competence lies at the heart of the DQR and signals readiness to use knowledge, skills and personal, social and methodological competences in work or study situations and for occupational and personal development. Competence is understood in this sense as comprehensive action competence (Table 1). Methodological competence is understood as a transversal competence and is not separately stated in the DQR matrix. The DQR expresses only selected characteristics; the comprehensive and integrated notion of competence, underlying the DQR, has a strong humanistic and educational dimension ([6] The ability to act (Handlungskompetenz) in vocational school curricula is not restricted to the world of work but implies individual ability and readiness to act adequately socially and be individually responsible.).

Descriptors are partly expressed as alternatives, such as 'field of study or work' and 'specialised field of study or field of occupational activity'. The broad and inclusive nature of level descriptors, using parallel formulations if necessary, makes it possible to open up all levels to different kinds of qualifications; higher levels are not restricted to qualifications awarded within the Bologna process. The table of level descriptors (DQR matrix) and a glossary are included in the DQR outline.

Table 1. Level descriptors in the German qualifications framework for lifelong learning

Level indicators (*)

Structure of requirements

Professional competence

Personal competence



Social competence


Depth and breadth

Instrumental and systemic skills, judgment

Team/leadership skills, involvement and communication

Autonomous responsibility/ responsibility, reflectiveness and learning competence

(*) This is just an analytical differentiation; the interdependence between different aspects of competence is emphasised (DQR, 2011, p. 5).

Source: The German qualifications framework for lifelong learning (DQR, 2011).

Each reference level maps comparable/equivalent, rather than homogeneous, qualifications. One key principle of DQR is that 'alignment takes place in accordance with the principle that each qualification level should always be accessible via various educational pathways' (DQR, 2011, p. 6).

Orientation to learning outcomes is increasingly becoming standard in vocational training and higher education (BMBF and KMK, 2013, p. 96). All subsystems of education and training have taken important steps since 2009, though to varying degrees (Cedefop, 2016). The DQR level descriptors have informed the design of qualifications standards, especially in VET, and are increasingly used for designing qualifications in the non-formal sector (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020)

In VET, continuous development of the 'ability to act' concept (Handlungskompetenz), introduced in the 1990s, has gradually assumed a key role in qualifications definition, with clear input requirements about place, duration and content of learning in formalised learning programmes. Competence-based training regulations and framework curricula structured in 'learning fields' have been used for more than two decades. Increasing emphasis is being placed in curricula on cross-cutting/transversal competences within the context of coping with change in the world of work. They are becoming an increasing focus of company-based learning alongside specific professional competences ([7] Kittel, Piel and Radi-Pentz (2021). Identifying and promoting core competencies for the digital shift. https://www.bwp-zeitschrift.de/en/bwp.php/en/bwp/show/17055). Due to digitalisation and fast changing requirements, there is a need to incorporate and develop learning skills, digital skills (digital technologies/IT skills, software skills), analytical and problem-solving skills, process/system understanding and competences relating to fostering cooperation among skilled workers from different fields (Zinke, 2020; KMK and BMBF, 2020; BMBF, 2020).

Competence orientation is also characteristic of reform in general education and development of national educational standards (Bildungsstandards) at all levels of general education. Most recently, in 2020, the KMK adopted binding educational standards for natural science subjects (biology, chemistry and physics) for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife (Abitur) next to already adopted educational standards for German, mathematics, English and French. Using these standards, a pool of possible examination tasks has been established to provide examples of how requirements could be tested in Abitur examinations. The pool is used by the federal states to create exam items.

The Länder have commenced using the educational standards in their curricula. The standards for the Allgemeine Hochschulreife in the natural sciences are to be introduced in the Gymnasiale Oberstufe from the 2022/2023 school year onwards. In the 2024/25 school year, the Abitur examinations in biology, chemistry and physics will be conducted nationwide on the basis of the new educational standards ([8] https://www.kmk.org/themen/qualitaetssicherung-in-schulen/bildungsstandards/bildungsstandards-und-allgemeine-hochschulreife.html).

In higher education, the implementation of a learning outcomes orientation was strengthened through the Bologna process, in general, and through the NEXUS project and the Quality pact for teaching, among others.

Reflecting the federal structure of Germany, the formal basis of the DQR is the Joint resolution of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Cultural Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Conference of Ministers of Economics of the Länder and the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. The Joint Resolution entered into force on 1 May 2013. It paved the way to full implementation, defining responsibilities of different stakeholders and setting up supporting tools and methodologies (including the DQR manual and qualifications register). This resolution was the basis for administrative regulations such as indicating DQR/EQF levels on certificates and diplomas and their supplements.

The body in charge of DQR implementation is the coordination point for the German qualifications framework (Bund-Länder Koordinierungsstelle (B-L-KS)), set up by a joint initiative of the federal government and the Länder. The B-L-KS, which emerged from the former Bund-Länder-Koordinierungsgruppe, also assumes the function of the national coordination point (NCP) for the EQF. It has six members, including representatives from BMBF, the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, the KMK and the Conference of Ministers for Economics of the Länder. Its main role is to monitor allocation of qualifications to ensure consistency in the overall DQR structure.

The work of the B-L-KS (NCP) is supported by the appropriate units of the BMBF and the Secretariat of the KMK. The units collaborate in performing their tasks.

Stakeholders such as education providers from higher education, general education, VET, social partners, ministries, public institutions from education and from the labour market, as well as researchers and practitioners, are involved via the DQR working group (Arbeitskreis DQR). Decisions are based on consensus and each of the members works closely with their respective constituent institutions and organisations.

[9] This section draws mainly on input from the 2018 European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning (Ball (2019) and one-off report on validation of non-formal learning (BMB, 2018)

Implementation of the DQR, with its focus on learning outcomes, has also strengthened work on making non-formal and informal learning more visible und comparable, underlying the importance of what a learner knows, understands and can do. In addition, the DQR can be helpful in validation procedures.

Various arrangements permit full or partial recognition of informally or non-formally acquired competences. Validation of non-formal and informal learning occurs in all education sectors but with different, tailor-made approaches using various instruments; it covers all elements of validation (identification, documentation, assessment and certification) and systematically builds on previous achievements of individuals. Such validation also supports the transition from one education sector to another, particularly between VET and higher education.

Legislation for validation of non-formal and informal learning is in place in VET. This includes the external students' examination (Externenprüfung) under Paragraph 45 (2) of the new Vocational Training Act ([10] The new Berufsbildungsgesetz (BBiG) in force since January 2020. https://www.bmbf.de/upload_filestore/pub/Das_neue_Berufsbildungsgesetz_BBiG.pdf) and Paragraph 37 (2) of the Crafts Code. These arrangements lead to award of a full qualification (equal to those formally acquired) in a recognised apprenticeship. Admission to the external students' examination is subject to specific employment requirements: this is usually 1.5 times the length of the formal programme or equally long periods of initial training in another training occupation; applicants may also demonstrate convincingly that they have acquired vocational competences.

Like the external students' examination within IVET, admission to examinations in the context of regulated further vocational training qualifications, such as Handwerksmeister (master craftsperson), is also possible via validation. This means that access to the examination is granted by work experience only. Preparatory training for this examination is not compulsory. General education school leaving certificates can be also acquired through an external examination (Schulfremdenprüfung, Externenprüfung, Nichtschülerprüfung) in all Länder, fulfilling the residence and minimum age requirements as well as evidence of appropriate examination preparation.

The Professional qualifications assessment Act/Recognition Act (BQFG) ([11] Gesetz über die Feststellung der Gleichwertigkeit von Berufsqualifikationen. (Berufsqualifikationsfeststellungsgesetz – BQFG): http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bqfg/BQFG.pdf
Unofficial translation is available here: https://www.bmbf.de/files/bqfg_englisch.pdf
) – introduced in April 2012 – provides individuals with the right to have their foreign-acquired qualifications matched to a German qualification by a competent authority. This act also includes, in Paragraph 14, other procedures for determining equivalence when no proof of prior learning can be provided; this opens opportunities for validation of non-formal and informal learning. The Qualifikationsanalyse (qualification analysis) is an instrument that was developed to support practical implementation, giving methodological standards and tools for validating professional knowledge, skills and competences. The act applies to initial vocational education and training (IVET) as well as regulated further vocational training. The implementation and impact of the BQFG are evaluated regularly ([12] ) BMBF (2019). Report on the Recognition Act 2019. www.bmbf.de/upload_filestore/pub/Bericht_zum_Anerkennungsgesetz_2019_eng.pdf).

The instrument has been further developed in the ValiKom project ([13] ValiKom/Valikom – Transfer project: www.validierungsverfahren.de) that has developed a joint procedure to assess and validate vocational skills and competences. ValiKom is a reference project to set up a validation system in Germany, addressing adults who acquired skills and competences through work but lack a formal qualification and a certificate. It applies self-assessment and external assessment and is based on standards for assessing the equivalence of non-formally/informally acquired skills and competences, with reference to formal qualifications and 'reference occupations' (recognised training or regulated further training qualifications).

Two KMK decisions provide the basis for validation in higher education. The first refers to access to higher education for qualified workers and has been in place since March 2009: those holding certain vocational qualifications, without a proper upper secondary qualification, can be admitted to higher education. The second refers to granting credits for competences acquired at work. According to these decisions, knowledge and skills acquired outside higher education can be recognised up to a maximum of 50% if content and level are equal to the equivalent in formal qualifications. Procedures to credit non-formal and informal learning were developed and tested in the Transitions from VET to higher education initiative (Übergänge von der beruflichen in die hochschulische Bildung (ANKOM)) ([14] The ANKOM initiative: http://ankom.dzhw.eu/beschluesse).

The German public employment service, in cooperation with Bertelsmann Stiftung, started a large-scale ICT-based assessment project to develop and implement digital tests for the assessment of competences gained at work in the MySKILLS project ([15] https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/en/our-projects/identifying-occupational-skills/description). This aims to support jobseekers, including refugees and migrants who have several years of work experience and skills but no documentary evidence of these skills. The skills tests are being developed for 30 occupations in 12 languages. So far tests for eight occupations have been completed and are available throughout Germany.

The DQR is a comprehensive framework, including all levels and types of qualifications. Most qualifications from initial VET, higher education, general education and from regulated further training have been assigned to DQR levels and linked to the EQF.

An important characteristic of DQR is that each qualification level should always be accessible via various education pathways. VET qualifications were allocated from levels 1 to 7. One example is allocation of the bachelor and master craftsperson qualification to level 6, which shows that higher DQR levels are open to qualifications from different education sectors and regarded as comparable. Qualifications from outside regulated formal education and training have not yet been included in the DQR, as criteria and procedures for their inclusion need to be agreed by all stakeholders.

The DQR has reached its fully operational status, with key documents and responsibilities for its implementation agreed and used by main stakeholders and published, such as the DQR handbook ([16] BMBF (2013). Handbuch zum Deutschen Qualifikationsrahmen [Manual for the German qualifications framework]. https://www.dqr.de/media/content/DQR_Handbuch_01_08_2013.pdf) describing responsibilities, procedures, standards and methods of qualification allocation ([17] See http://www.dqr.de/content/2445.php).

All qualifications allocated to the DQR/EQF (most regulated qualifications from VET, higher education and general education) have been included in the comprehensive DQR qualifications database ([18] DQR qualifications database: https://www.dqr.de/content/2316.php). The number of qualifications included is continuously increasing: as of end 2020, a total of 1 225 qualifications were listed in the database, with the largest numbers at level 4 (627) qualifications and level 6 (453 qualifications). All necessary elements according to Annex VI of the 2017 EQF recommendation are covered by the database: DQR/EQF levels, description of the qualification and learning outcomes, awarding body or competent authority. From the optional elements, entry requirements and pathways to the qualification are also included.

DQR/EQF levels have been indicated on VET certificates, certificate supplements and higher education diploma supplements. Since 2018 there has been work on indicating DQR and EQF levels on general education diplomas (in line with the practice of the 16 Länder) (Commission and Cedefop, 2020).

The DQR is a non-regulatory framework and its integration into policies of different education sectors is an evolutionary process. References to the DQR and its categories have already been made in regulatory instruments of formal education and training, as in the new framework curricula for part-time vocational schools (Berufsschule) of the Länder; VET training regulations have been designed as more competence-oriented since 2015. The DQR has also been a driving force to strengthen regulated further vocational training and improve its quality. Recently, to help promote regulated further vocational training (at DQR/EQF levels 5-7) a three-level structure was developed and included in the new Vocational training Act, in force since January 2020 ([19] https://www.bmbf.de/upload_filestore/pub/Das_neue_Berufsbildungsgesetz_BBiG.pdf). New terms/titles for regulated further vocational training programmes and related qualifications ([20] Examples include: Certified Professional Specialist (EQF level 5), Bachelor professional (EQF level 6) and Master professional (EQF level 7).) at levels 5-7 underline the equivalence to academic education.

There is increasing interest from providers of non-formal qualifications to use the DQR level descriptors when designing qualifications (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020).

Implementation of the DQR is a joint process involving a whole range of stakeholders in different parts of education and training and on the labour market; all stakeholders use their channels to communicate the DQR to their target groups. Evidence of the awareness and use of the DQR is growing: it is known and used by the organisations that are responsible for awarding qualifications with an DQR/EQF level. There is also continuing interest among providers of non-formal and private qualifications, which use the DQR descriptors as a competence model when designing qualifications. There are no representative data on the use of the DQR by labour market stakeholders; however, as employers and trade unions are involved in the design and renewal of qualifications, for example in VET, they use the DQR and its level descriptors. Experience also shows that some employers use the DQR when developing job profiles and qualifications requirements. Trade unions sometimes use the DQR in the context of collective agreements. There are no data available, but experience shows that recognition authorities use the DQR as a complementary source of information about qualifications within existing recognition procedures (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020).

The DQR handbook ([21] https://www.dqr.de/media/content/DQR_Handbuch_01_08_2013.pdf ) was designed to facilitate the understanding (and, by implication, the use) of the framework, but does not address specific target groups. However, examples of how different target groups can use the DQR can be found on the website ([22] DQR website: https://www.dqr.de/) (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020).

No comprehensive DQR evaluation has been carried out. However, according to the European Commission and Cedefop (2020) the DQR has considerably enhanced transparency and comparability of qualifications across different sub-systems of the formal education system in Germany. It has had an impact on quality assurance of regulated further vocational training. It is also reported that the DQR has facilitated transparency of qualifications and considerably enhanced the parity of esteem, especially between VET and higher education. With the allocation of VET qualifications at DQR levels 6 and 7, the parity became visible. This is also reflected in the increasing willingness of universities to recognise competences acquired outside higher education (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020).

Considerable improvements and continuity of communication and cooperation has been achieved, between a wide range of stakeholders at different levels and of different education sub-systems and from labour market and researchers This is especially so through the DQR working group (Arbeitskreis DQR) (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020).

The DQR was referenced to EQF in 2012 (BMBF and KMK, 2013). The qualifications framework for higher education – now an integral part of DQR for lifelong learning – was self-certified against QF-EHEA in 2008.

There are currently no plans to update the referencing report (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020).

DQR development and continuing implementation is characterised by strong and broad involvement of stakeholders from all subsystems of education and training (general education, VET, higher education), and from the labour market, ministries and Länder. The DQR working group provides a forum for reaching consensus, ensuring that all measures related to the DQR are supported by stakeholders. Creating and sustaining mutual understanding and trust between stakeholders from different education sectors is seen as a key success factor and a challenge, as decisions take a lot of time owing to the need for extensive discussions and reiterations for further implementation of the DQR (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020).

Stakeholders also agree that alignment of qualifications within German education to reference levels of the DQR should not replace the existing system of access. Achieving a DQR reference level does not provide automatic entitlement to access the next level. Achievement of a reference level has also not been considered alongside implications for collective wage bargaining and the Law on Remuneration (DQR, 2011, pp. 5-6).

The comprehensive nature of the framework has been strengthened over the years, with increasing numbers of qualifications included in the DQR register from IVET, regulated further training, higher education and general education. Qualifications outside formal education and training have not yet been included. However, the DQR and its level descriptors are increasingly used for designing qualifications in the non-formal sector. Discussions on criteria and procedures for their inclusion are continuing.

The comprehensive nature of level descriptors and the scope of the framework makes it possible to identify and understand better the similarities and differences between qualifications in different areas of education and training. A permeable system, with better horizontal and vertical progression possibilities, is at the heart of DQR implementation, as is parity of esteem between VET and higher education and efforts to include non-formal and informal learning. The contribution of increased transparency and, with the allocation of regulated further training and definition of new titles at DQR levels 6 and 7, the parity of esteem between VET and higher education, became visible and bring added value for end-users. This is reflected in the increased willingness of universities to recognise competences acquired outside higher education (European Commission and Cedefop, 2020).

The federal government/Länder coordination point assumes the function of EQF NCP.


NQF levelQualification typesEQF level

Doctorate and equivalent arts degrees (Doktorat und äquivalente künstlerische Abschlüsse)


Master degrees and equivalent higher education qualifications (traditional German courses of higher education study such as the first degrees of Diplom or Magister, State examinations) (Master und gleichgestellte Abschlüsse (Diplom, Magister, Staatsexamen)))

Strategic professional (IT) (certified) (Strategische/r IT Professional (Geprüfte/r))

Other advanced vocational training pursuant to the Vocational Training Act or Crafts and Trades Regulation Code (level 7) (Sonstige berufliche Fortbildungsqualifikationen nach BBiG/HwO (Niveau 7))


Bachelor degrees and equivalent higher education qualifications (Bachelor und gleichgestellte Hochschulabschlüsse)

Specialist commercial clerk (certified) (Fachkaufmann/-frau (Geprüfte/r))

Business management specialist (certified) (Fachwirt (Geprüfter))

Master craftsman (certified) (Meister (Geprüfter))

Operative professional (IT) (certified) (Operative/r Professional (IT) (Geprüfte/r))

Trade and technical school (advanced vocational training governed by federal State law) (Fachschule (Landesrechtlich geregelte berufliche Weiterbildungen))

Advanced vocational training pursuant to § 54 of the Vocational Training Act (level 6) (Berufliche Fortbildungsqualifikationen nach 54 BBiG (Niveau 6))

Other advanced vocational training pursuant to the Vocational Training Act or Crafts and Trades Regulation Code (level 6) (Sonstige berufliche Fortbildungsqualifikationen nach BBiG/HwO (Niveau 6))


IT specialist (certified) (IT-Spezialist (Zertifizierter))

Service technician (certified) (Servicetechniker/in (Geprüfte/r))

Advanced vocational training pursuant to § 54 of the Vocational Training Act (Berufliche Fortbildungsqualifikationen nach § 54 BBiG (Niveau 5))

Other advanced vocational training pursuant to the Vocational Training Act or Crafts and Trades Regulation Code (level 5) (Sonstige berufliche Fortbildungsqualifikationen nach BBiG/HwO (Niveau 5))


Upper secondary general education school leaving certificate – General higher education entrance qualification (Allgemeine Hochschulreife (AHR)) Subject-linked higher education entrance qualification (Fachgebundene Hochschulreife (FgbHR))

Higher education entrance qualification for university of applied sciences (Fachhochschulreife (FHR))

Dual VET (three-year and three-and-a-half-year training courses) (Duale Berufsausbildung (3- und 3 ½-jährige Ausbildungen))

Full-time vocational school (vocational education and training governed by federal State law) (Berufsfachschule (Landesrechtlich geregelte Berufsausbildungen))

Full-time vocational school (vocational education and training governed by federal law in healthcare and elderly care) (Berufsfachschule (Bundesrechtliche Ausbildungsregelungen für Berufe im Gesundheitswesen und in der Altenpflege))

Full-time vocational school (fully qualifying vocational education and training pursuant to the Vocational Training Act or Crafts and trades regulation Code) (Berufsfachschule (vollqualifizierende Berufsausbildung nach BBiG/HwO))

Retraining qualification pursuant to the Vocational Training Act (level 4) (Berufliche Umschulung nach BBiG (Niveau 4))


Intermediate secondary school leaving certificate – General education, 10 years (Mittlerer Schulabschluss (MSA))

Intermediate secondary school leaving certificate – Full-time vocational school (Berufsfachschule (Mittlerer Schulabschluss))

Dual VET (two-year training courses) (Duale Berufsausbildung (2-jährige Ausbildung))


Lower secondary school leaving certificate – General education, 9 years (Erster Schulabschluss (ESA))

Vocational training preparation (vocational preparation scheme, prevocational training year, introductory training) (Berufsausbildungsvorbereitung (Niveau 2; BvB, BvB-Reha, BVJ, EQ))

Basic vocational training – Full-time vocational school (Berufliche Grundbildung))


Vocational training preparation (vocational preparation scheme, prevocational training year) (Berufsausbildungsvorbereitung (Niveau 1; BvB, BvB-Reha, BVJ))



Übergänge von der beruflichen in die hochschulische Bildung [transitions from vocational high school education]


Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung [Federal Institute for VET]


Bund-Länder Koordinierungsstelle [national coordination point]


Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung [Federal Ministry of Education and Research]


Gesetz über die Feststellung der Gleichwertigkeit von Berufsqualifikationen

(Berufsqualifikationsfeststellungsgesetz) / Professional qualifications assessment Act/Recogntion Act


(regulated) continuing/further vocational education and training


Deutscher Qualifikationsrahmen für lebenslanges Lernen [German qualifications framework for lifelong learning]


European qualifications framework


information technology


Kultusministerkonferenz [Standing Conference of the Ministers for Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany]]


national qualifications framework


vocational education and training

[URLs accessed 12.4.2021]

Ball, C. (2019). European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning 2018 update: Germany. https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2019/european_inventory_validation_2018_Germany.pdf

BMBF (2018). Validation of non-formal and informal learning in Germany: one-off report [unpublished].

BMBF (2019). Report on the Recognition Act 2019. www.bmbf.de/upload_filestore/pub/Bericht_zum_Anerkennungsgesetz_2019_eng.pdf

BMBF (2020). Berufstbildungsbericht 2020 [Vocational training report 2020]. https://www.bmbf.de/upload_filestore/pub/Berufsbildungsbericht_2020.pdf

BMBF and KMK (2008). Report on the compatibility of the qualifications framework for German higher education qualifications with the qualifications framework for the European higher education area. https://www.kmk.org/fileadmin/pdf/Wissenschaft/BE_080918_Bericht_Zertifizierung_NQF_engl_final.pdf

BMBF and KMK (2013). German EQF referencing report. https://europa.eu/europass/system/files/2020-06/German%20Referencing%20Report%20.pdf

Cedefop (2016). Application of learning outcomes approaches across Europe: a comparative study. Luxembourg: Publications Office. Cedefop reference series; No 105. http://dx.doi.org/10.2801/73571

DQR (2011). The German qualifications framework for lifelong learning. https://www.dqr.de/media/content/The_German_Qualifications_Framework_for_Lifelong_Learning.pdf

European Commission (2020). Education and training monitor 2020: Country analysis – Germany. Luxembourg: Publication office. https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/0b2b1170-2499-11eb-9d7e-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF/source-171316678

European Commission and Cedefop (2020). Survey on implementation, communication and use of NQF/EQF [unpublished].

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Stage of development:
NQF linked to EQF:
Scope of the framework:
Comprehensive NQF for lifelong learning; includes qualifications from general education, VET (initial VET and regulated further training), and from higher education.
Number of levels:

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