The professional and vocational qualifications assessment law (BQFG) permits informally or non-formally acquired competences to be taken into account when checking equivalence of foreign and German qualifications. As long as the prerequisites for a vocational qualification obtained abroad are met, assessment of equivalence is based on documentary examination regardless of the route via which competences were gained. Under certain conditions, vocational competences may be assessed on an individual basis.

BQFG provides a recognition procedure that checks whether documentary evidence can demonstrate equivalence of a foreign qualification with a current German one (the so-called ‘reference occupation’). This check is based on stipulated criteria such as training content and duration. A foreign qualification certificate is required for an application to be made.

BQFG as a comprehensive validation procedure

The central question is whether there are essential differences between a foreign qualification and the German reference occupation and, second, whether any such differences could possibly be compensated for by occupational experience or further evidence of competence. This applies in particular to deficits in practical training, which play such an important role in the German dual system.

The process moves beyond formal training and takes account of learning outcomes acquired informally (occupational experience) or via non-formal means (participation in continuing training, additional training or other advanced and continuing training certificates). This step also involves f providing evidence of learning outcomes achieved based on documents.

This procedure is referred to as ‘skills analysis’. Its aim is to identify a person’s knowledge, skills and competences and assess whether they essentially cover training contents of the relevant German reference occupation for which documentary evidence cannot be provided. In this context, the skills analysis can be viewed as a competence assessment procedure.

Relevance of occupational experience in the recognition procedure

For monitoring the recognition act, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) conducted a survey of chamber of crafts and trades staff responsible for recognition. The survey shows that it was frequently possible to use recognition of occupational experience to compensate for significant differences. Some 79% of chambers of crafts and trades which received applications during the survey period confirm a high degree of relevance of occupational experience for the recognition procedure.

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