Arne weychardt / Bertelsmann-Sti

Everyone can do something: Competences for all - Discover. Develop. Acknowledge.

We make continuing education opportunities and deficits transparent, down to the regional level. In cooperation with science, practice, politics and the economy, we develop and test concepts for better educational guidance, validation of competences and the use of participant-oriented forms of learning.

Nearly 6 million people without professional qualifications are currently living in Germany. They are four times more likely to be unemployed than specialists with professional qualifications. Since a majority of the people who fled to Germany do not have professional qualifications that are recognized here, the number of these “low-skilled persons” will continue to increase over the next few years. At the same time, there is a high demand for qualified specialists. A gap of 1.2 million people with professional qualifications is forecast by 2020. It is therefore necessary to bring supply and demand together.

Not all people who lack professional qualifications lack competences: 

Many people without sufficient qualifications possess occupationally relevant skills acquired via gainful employment, volunteer work or continuing education. These competences are, however, worthless on the labor market because they have not been confirmed by a professional certificate. To date, there are no generally recognized competence certificates below professional qualifications that allow these skills to be utilized.

The goal of the “Careers via Competences” project is to demonstrate what a continuing education system might look like, in the framework of which full professional qualifications can be acquired, step-by-step, via progressive partial qualifications. These partial qualifications could be recognized directly if the necessary competences have already been acquired informally, but can be acquired via a nationally recognized training.

Only the broad strokes of such a modular, late-starter qualification system exist in Germany today. The only path to acquire professional qualifications without formal training follows an “all or nothing” logic. Only persons who can prove they possess all of the competences required for a profession and fulfill specific additional requirements may take the regular examination as an external candidate. If they pass this test, they are awarded the corresponding professional qualification. If the candidate does not qualify to take this test or fails it, the existing competence potential remains unused. Only 19,000 people per year utilize this process to have their professional experience recognized. This path seems rather unsuited to people without professional qualifications Two-thirds of the people who pass the test are awarded a second professional qualification. Only a third of all graduates acquired their first qualification via this process.

A modular late-starter qualification system that allows for the step-by-step acquisition of professional qualifications would offer clearly better opportunities, in particular for the supposedly unqualified, for entering and advancing on the labor market. If we are successful at making the competences of “low-skilled persons” visible and making their path toward obtaining professional qualifications or at least formal recognition of their existing competences easier, this could help close the gap caused by a lack of specialists in Germany.

The Careers via Competences project

  • examines specific, existing partial qualification models and helps further develop them by exchanging good practices
  • develops and tests concrete instruments for assessing professional competences
  • creates studies that make untapped competence potentials transparent
  • demonstrates continuing education opportunities in Germany
  • makes the need for more public financing for the qualification of formally “low-skilled persons” clear.

Projects