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.

We are convinced that a reform of the continuing education system is necessary if we want to combat the increasing social gap. The system, in its current form, does not reduce the inequities in education developed in the previous education sectors, but instead, further reinforces them. We focus on three approaches. First, improving educational guidance, in particular for educationally disadvantaged people to make access to continuing education easier. Second, changing the practice of continuing education toward a more participant-based orientation so negative experiences in school don’t become hindrances to adult learning processes. And third, recognizing informally and non-formally acquired competences. So learners can build on existing skills and so that life-long learning is professionally and financially worth it. For the individual and society.

Pointing out continuing education opportunities

In order to make people aware of the existing problems, we publish studies that make discrimination in continuing education in Germany transparent. First, we demonstrate that the continuing education opportunities and infrastructure in Germany are distributed unevenly across the regions and are defined by the local economy and infrastructure as well as continuing education offers. But we also describe structurally disadvantaged regions which, despite poor initial conditions, show a high level of participation in continuing education, which they achieve with clever continuing education policies such as education offices which coordinate companies, social and employment authorities through to targeted marketing for continuing education or simple access to and guidance on continuing education for educationally disadvantaged groups.

Consulting people

Even now, migrants are disadvantaged in Germany with regard to education and careers. Until the end of 2015, the Bertelsmann Stiftung will be developing and testing a kit for educational guidance for adult migrants for practical use in different guidance systems for migrants in Germany. Educational guidance informs and shows migrants who are disadvantaged with regard to (continuing) education their potential. It also shows them new job opportunities and options for continuing education. This way it becomes clear to both the migrants and society that every person can make a valuable contribution to society - if they are allowed to!

Reinforcing teachers

Continuing educators in Germany are a heterogeneous group. What most of them have in common, though, is a high level of dedication to their own fields of work, a precarious employment status and only semi-professional training for their pedagogical tasks. However, the quality of continuing education offers and the learning success of the participants depends on the professionalism of the continuing education staff. For this reason, the wb-web portal, to be set up by the foundation in cooperation with the German Institute for Adult Education would like to provide an open qualification offer for continuing educators. It will focus primarily on the application of digital and personalized learning offers via which education can be closely aligned with the needs of a wide range of target groups. The portal will further focus on “education for educationally disadvantaged persons”.

Recognizing skills

What has long since been tradition in Finland, France and Sweden should be possible in all EU states from 2018: formal recognition of non-formally and informally acquired competences. Where someone learned something will no longer be important, but what a person can really do. This should provide persons who have built up competences via paths other than the standard, but which are not yet visible, with new opportunities on the employment market.

How will Germany, with its centuries-old tradition of formalized professional degrees and certifications rise up to this challenge? We illustrate which successful approaches for recognizing informally and non-formally acquired competences from other European countries may be applied to Germany and how and what positive examples already exist in Germany.


Netherlands country report - How informal and non-formal learning is recognised in Europe
Austria country report - How informal and non-formal learning is recognised-in europe
UK country report - How informal and non-formal learning is recognised in Europe
Losing out on further training