Funding is a major issue in participation in continuing education and training. The German Government decided to expand public funding for VET students who want to acquire higher VET qualifications, i.e. VET at tertiary education level. The amendments of the Upgrading Training Assistance Act (AFBG) will come into force on 1st of August 2020.
The AFBG addresses people taking part in measures leading to advanced vocational qualifications (EQF levels 5 to 7). Typical upgrading vocational training programmes lead to Meister [Master craftsman] and Fachwirt [certified specialist] qualifications (EQF level 6), as well as courses at colleges of early childhood education or specialised technical colleges. Over 700 equivalent further training measures are eligible for funding under the AFBG. Since the AFBG came into force in 1996, around 2.8 million VET career progressions have been supported with a total funding volume of around EUR 9.2 billion. In 2018, 167 000 VET students were financially supported in acquiring higher VET qualifications and improving their professional career prospects.
What has changed in the Training Assistance Act?
The amendments of the AFBG will further promote participation of learners in higher VET, mainly through the availability of higher financial support. AFBG funding covers the cost of the training irrespective of income and assets; with the updated AFBG it will increase from the current 40% to 50% of the training costs. Participants in full-time measures also receive an additional means-tested payment to cover living expenses, which depend on learner income and property. Subsidies formerly of 50% maximum will increase to up to 100% with the implementation of the AFBG.
Currently, eligible programmes must comprise at least 400 hours of education and training and be finalised in a specific period of time; this means in average 25 hours on at least four working days per week for full-time training. With the amended AFBG, the number of minimum education and training hours decreases to 200. Further elements of the amended law are the expansion and improvement of loan conditions, e.g. for business start-ups, and the higher financial support for students with families and single parents.
Strengthening the equivalence of VET and academic education
These funding improvements will contribute to the objective of the German education policy of strengthening the equivalence of the VET pathway and academic education. Supporting the acquisition of higher VET qualifications means better career prospects; it is also beneficial for the ever-changing and developing company skill needs. The law is a further step to enhance the attractiveness and excellence of vocational education and training pathway.
Aufstiegs-BAföG wird deutlich attraktiver [Upgrading Training Assistance Act will become significantly more attractive]
Aufstiegsfortbildungsförderungsgesetz (AFBG): Änderungen ab 1.08.2020 auf einen Blick [AFBF: Changes as of 01.08.2020 at a glance]