In Germany various incentives are offered to learners, which differ for IVET and CVET learners:
According to the Vocational Training Act, the training company shall pay apprentices an appropriate allowance. The amount and payment procedure are specified in the training contract. Training allowances are based on collective wage agreements.
Average apprentice remuneration across Germany for 2017 was EUR 876 gross per month (increasing from the first year of training at EUR 794 to the fourth year at EUR 995). There are significant differences in the level of remuneration between the training sectors and occupations. In 2017, the highest monthly allowances were for the skilled craft occupation of brick layer (EUR 1 095) followed by the mechatronics technician (EUR 1 043 per month). At the other end, the lowest monthly remuneration was for the apprentices as chimney sweep (EUR 518) followed by florist and baker (EUR 617 and EUR 637).
Basic vocational training grant ( )
Financial support is offered during IVET and prevocational training organised by the federal employment agency to help apprentices overcome the economic difficulties that can stand in the way of appropriate vocational qualification. The overall monthly needs of the apprentice not living with his or her parents are estimated and the amount which cannot be covered by own/parents’ income is subsidised. In 2017, 88 000 persons undergoing vocational training and 23 000 participating in pre-vocational training measures received funding and support through such a grant (from 1 August 2016 the maximum is EUR 622 per month) (
). There are also vocational training grants specifically adapted to the needs of learners with disabilities ( ).
Support during training ( )
This support is targeted at all young people who need help to start and complete vocational training. Enrolment is voluntary. Mentors help apprentices to improve German language and other academic skills through special classes during at least three hours a week. The law establishing this measure came into force in May 2015 and in 2017, 36 000 young people were beneficiaries (
). This represents a share of 2.7% of all apprentices in 2017. It helps apprentices to avoid dropping out of training, to stabilise training relationships and to complete vocational training. Six months after completing a measure, 81% of participants were in jobs subject to social insurance contributions.
Pre-VET measures ( )
Prevocational education and training measures as defined in the German Social Code (SGB III) prepare young people who need extra support for vocational training or, if they cannot yet start training for inherent personal reasons, to enter employment in the mainstream labour market.
Pre-VET measures give participants opportunities to assess their skills and abilities as part of the process of choosing a possible occupation, e.g. through internships. The measures also provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to start initial vocational training. They can support them in their preparation to acquire a secondary general school-leaving certificate or equivalent school leaving qualification; if this is not or not yet possible, it helps place participants in employment and sustainably integrate into the training and/or labour market.
Around 63 000 young people (about 5% of apprentices) in need of extra support participated in a prevocational training measure in 2017 (
Introductory training for young people ( )
The primary goal of introductory training is to give young people (although there is no actual age limit) with limited prospects of being placed in training an opportunity to acquire modular qualifications towards a recognised occupation. Introductory training also offers companies providing training an opportunity to get to know young people, not just in a brief job application interview, but to observe their skills and abilities over a period of six to twelve months in daily work processes.
Companies which offer introductory training enter into a contract with the young people concerned. Employers receive a subsidy of up to EUR 231 per month to remunerate apprentices, plus a flat-rate contribution towards the average total social security amount payable. On completion of the work placement, participants receive a certificate issued by the competent body (e.g. chamber of industry and commerce, chamber of skilled crafts). In certain circumstances, up to six months’ credit for the work placement can be offset against the qualifying period of a subsequent apprenticeship. 69% of those completing introductory training transfer into training six months after completing the introductory training measure. In 2017, around 24 000 young people began introductory training (
Training placements are offered to all young people through employment agencies and jobcentres. The agencies also offer employers specific consultancy services and approach them to enquire about training places. In the 2016/17 reporting year, 549 785 training places and 547 824 training place applicants were registered with the federal employment agency (
Special measures for integrating refugees into IVET
Integrating young people with migration background and refugees in the education and VET system and in the labour market is a priority. Keys to integration are learning the host language, validation of formal and non-formal and informally acquired skills, provision of vocational orientation and access to pre-VET and VET programmes, apprenticeships, upskilling measures and employment. Following the arrival of about one million refugees at the end of 2015, existing programmes aiming to integrate disadvantaged groups into the labour market and the VET system opened up with an additional focus on refugees. New programmes were established in 2016, specifically addressing refugees. A synopsis of integration measures for refugees was published by the federal government in December 2016 (German for professional purposes ( ) was carried out to help people with migration background learn the German language and integrate into society and the world of work. 80 000 people participated in the programme in 2017. A new information hub for German language courses, Handbook Germany ( ), was also set up, funded by the federal office for migration and refugees (BAMF) ( ).
). Since 2015, a specific ESF-supported programme
Since a 2016 amendment to the Social Code, young refugees with tolerated residence status who participate in dual VET are entitled to financial support after 15 months’ stay in Germany instead of the previously required four years. Support is in the form of training loans, pre-vocational training measures, and the so-called assisted training scheme (see above). The Integration Act (
) was adopted in July 2016 and intends to facilitate refugee integration into society through a ‘support and challenge’ approach. Refugees with prospects of staying permanently will take integration courses at an early stage, and have legal certainty while in vocational training: up to three-year right of residence for those in apprenticeship until successful completion of training, followed by two-year right to reside, if the person works in the profession s/he was trained in. Asylum seekers will be granted temporary residence permits once they have submitted their application for asylum, so they have legal certainty and early access to the integration courses and labour market.
Mobility programme for young people interested in vocational training from other European countries ()
A special programme, Funding to promote the professional mobility of young people with an interest in training and unemployed young skilled workers from Europe (MobiPro-EU) develops measures and instruments to promote international mobility for apprentices in the EU. German language tuition, social and vocational training and mentoring, and financial support to enable mobility and to secure living costs help young people interested in apprenticeship and young adults from the EU to complete vocational training in a company in Germany.
Incentives for continuing VET learners
The State promotes participation in continuing VET with various support and funding instruments (grants, subsidies and loans to cover continuing VET and living costs), addressing various target groups. Some of them are regulated by law and others are in the form of programmes.
Upgrading Training Assistance Act (Aufstiegsfortbildungsförderungsgesetz, AFBG, known as Meister-BaföG) ()
This law gives craftspeople and other skilled workers a statutory entitlement to financial assistance to cover costs of further training and living expenses. This financial support, jointly covered by the Federal and State governments, comprises subsidies (or, from a certain amount, bank loans at favourable rates) for a master craftsperson course and exam fees or other programmes leading to a comparable qualification. The AFBG, the equivalent to university student grants (BAföG), was amended in 2016 to improve the funding and support, and expand available funding options to new target groups. It increases VET career attractiveness.
In 2016, the number of funding recipients was approximately 162 000. In 2017, EUR 619 million funding was available for this programme: EUR 323 million in the form of subsidies and EUR 296 million in the form of loans. Since the Meister-BAföG was introduced in 1996, it has made it possible for around two million people to upgrade their vocational skills and achieve promotion by providing approximately EUR 8 billion in funding ( ). AFGB is the most comprehensive continuing VET funding instrument. It is a major pillar and driver of skills upgrading and occupational advancement.
Continuing training grant (Weiterbildungsstipendium) ()
Since 1991, the education ministry (
) has offered particularly gifted young workers a specific continuing VET grant (there is a similar programme in academic education). Grants are awarded to approximately 6 000 new recipients every year and more than 133 000 grants have been provided since the programme started. Funding is provided for the measure itself, for travel and accommodation costs and for costs of work materials. Scholarship recipients may apply for a total of EUR 6 000 for an unlimited amount of continuing training courses eligible for funding within the three-year funding period. They are required to bear 10% of costs themselves per course ( ).
Upgrading scholarship (Aufstiegsstipendium) ()
The education ministry’s upgrading scholarship offers incentives to study for skilled workers with professional experience, whether or not they gained a higher education entrance qualification at school. It was established for professionals with at least two years’ work experience and with outstanding talents. When qualified skilled professionals are already working, financial issues often prevent them from starting a course of studies. It is the only academic programme supporting talented students who are combining work and study (over a third of the scholarship holders) or studying full-time for the duration of their course of studies (standard prescribed study period). The funding provided for full-time study is EUR 815 a month (plus a one-off childcare payment) and EUR 2 400 a year offered for those combining work and study (
). Scholarships are awarded to approximately 1 000 new recipients every year and about 9 900 were provided from 2008 to 2017 ( ).
Continuing education bonus (Bildungsprämie) ()
To encourage groups of people that tend to have lower rates of participation in company-based continuing vocational training (workers on low incomes, women, employees in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), people working part-time and healthcare professionals), the federal government approved an additional financing scheme in 2008: premium and savings vouchers. The premium voucher reduces training costs by up to 50% of tuition fees (max EUR 500) for job-related training courses or courses that help improve people’s employability. It targets employees and the self-employed who work at least 15 hours a week and have a maximum taxable annual income of EUR 20 000 (or 40 000 for couples; child allowances are taken into account) or are on parental leave. The voucher is valid for six months. People can receive vouchers every two years. This measure is supported by the European Social Fund. The savings voucher provides a right to withdraw money from capital formation saving plans without losing the savings grant. This is open to all people who have such saving plans, regardless of their income. Since the programme started in 2008, around 320 000 premium vouchers have been issued and 28 000 individual continuing VET savings plans established.
Continuing VET for the unemployed
One important national strategy is the prevention of unemployment through nation-wide standard (under the German Social Code, SGB III) upskilling programmes, specifically addressing those at risk of long-term unemployment: the low-skilled and the unemployed (
). The federal government implements active labour market policy (ALMP) measures addressing long-term unemployment.
To be eligible for a continuing VET voucher, participation must be considered necessary to enable occupational integration, to avert pending unemployment or because the candidate does not have a vocational qualification. When identifying the need for continuing VET measures, the employment agency or the authority providing basic income support for jobseekers must always consider labour market conditions. They must decide, among others, whether the candidate could find employment without continuing VET; whether other labour market policy instruments could be more appropriate; and whether the candidate could, in all likelihood, return to the labour market as a result of the training.
Persons meeting the general eligibility criteria are granted an education and training voucher (Bildungsgutschein) by the employment agency or the authority providing jobseeker support. This voucher contains data on the education objective, the time required to reach this objective and information as to where the voucher applies in the region. The holder can redeem it at any education institution of their choice which is accredited for funding under the conditions specified in the education voucher. The continuing VET activity must also be approved for funding and support. The education institution then charges the employment agency for the course costs on the basis of the education voucher. Information on approved continuing VET measures and providers can also be found in the database of the federal employment agency ( ).
By issuing an education and training voucher, the reimbursement of some or all of the following continuing VET expenses is confirmed: course costs, travel expenses, costs for external board and lodging, and childcare expenses. Candidates are also entitled to receive unemployment benefit for the duration of the continuing VET programme if specific requirements are met. Regulations related to unemployment benefits remain unchanged for the duration of the continuing VET programme.
The 2016 law to reinforce continuing VET and unemployment insurance coverage (AWStG)
Workers with low-level qualifications, the long-term unemployed and older employees in particular must be increasingly recruited into vocational further training. Qualifying further vocational training should also strengthen participants’ motivation, resilience and basic skills and reduce the rate at which people drop out of continuing training. To achieve these goals, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) expanded support and funding for further vocational training through a law to strengthen continuing VET and unemployment insurance coverage (AWStG) (
); this came into force in 2016. The law improves access and the overall conditions of continuing VET (such as allowances during training and financial incentives for passing exams) in order to attract more people with few or low-level qualifications, the long-term unemployed and older employees into qualifying continuing vocational training. This new law complements and reinforces standard continuing VET support instruments under the German Social Code, as in the following examples.
The FbW programme ( ) promoting continuing VET
This is available both to the unemployed and employees under threat of imminent unemployment, as well as to workers with low levels of qualifications and employees in SMEs. Eligibility for funding also depends on labour market conditions, as with the education and training voucher. Eligible continuing VET courses aiming to obtain, update or upgrade a vocational (also partial) qualification are listed in the KURSNET (
) database of the federal employment agency.
The IFlaS initiative for responding to structural changes ()
Based on the German Social Code, this gives people with low-level qualifications living in structurally weak areas the opportunity to acquire a recognised vocational qualification or complete modular (partial) qualifications. Target groups are the unemployed and people at risk of becoming unemployed. Since 2012 the initiative is also helping those returning to work who have no VET qualifications (or have not worked in the occupation they trained for over four years) to get back into jobs subject to social insurance contributions.
The WeGebAU programme ()
Employment agencies can provide full or partial funding for qualification courses for employees aged over 45 working in SMEs with fewer than 250 employees. Since April 2012, such employees can also receive funding for continuing VET, regardless of their current qualification level, on the additional provision that their employer meets at least 50% of the course costs. Employees who have no or no useful vocational qualifications can also receive funding. Employers who release employees with low-level qualifications to take part in continuing VET to gain qualifications can receive a subsidy to cover the employee’s pay for the period they spend in training. The changed prerequisites for funding resulted in a significant increase in participation rates. WeGebAU has also been increasingly used to help employed geriatric nursing assistants upgrade their qualifications (