The Federal Employment Agency and the Bertelsmann Stiftung joined forces to develop the MYSKILLS test. The test makes professional knowledge visible. It is intended to open up opportunities on the job market for people who, up to now, have found it difficult to provide evidence for skills which they acquired informally or non-formally. In the future, employment agencies and job centres will offer MYSKILLS for 30 professions in six languages.
Germany is rightly proud of its education system. It is one of the mainstays of our economy. However, those who don’t have a professional qualification can have a hard time finding a job. This is even the case with those who have already worked successfully in an occupation for several years, as, even though they may have accumulated a great deal of experience, it can still be hard to prove this when applying for a job. From the employer’s side, too, it can be difficult to ascertain what an applicant is actually able to do. And it is often hard for the careers consultant at an employment agency to direct a candidate towards suitable job vacancies or further qualifications.
This is the problem faced by around 6 million low-qualified workers when they want to change jobs. Above all, it is a problem for migrants and for the million or so refugees who have come to Germany since 2015.
Often, it is not work experience that they lack, but certificates, knowledge of the German work scene, and the necessary language skills to explain what they have done in their homelands on a professional level.
We want to make the invisible visible. Because when informally acquired skills come to light, this helps refugees integrate into society as well as helping to relieve the shortage of skilled workers in many sectors. This is especially true of the skilled crafts and trades. Many refugees and job seekers have talents that a lot of companies are desperately looking for. We just have to bring them together, and MYSKILLS should help to do this.
MYSKILLS - questions and answers
The test is suitable for all job seekers who have several years of experience in one of the MYSKILLS professions but who have not completed a professional qualification. It is aimed at refugees and migrants who bring professional skills from their homeland but who have no documentary evidence of these skills. Up to now, it has been difficult for employment agencies and job centres, as well as for potential employers, to assess these candidates’ abilities, which has been a barrier to integrating into the labour market. The MYSKILLS test procedure now provides a reliable skills assessment of what somebody is able to do in a particular profession.
The tests are only offered at employment agencies and job centres. Anyone wishing to take a test in one of the occupations offered, must contact their consultant in the employment agency or job centre.
The skills tests help consultants in the employment agencies and job centres to direct individual placements more accurately. From the test results, it can be deduced whether an early integration in the jobs market should be sought directly or whether the candidate should get a qualification first.
The skills tests are being developed for 30 occupations in total. Tests for eight occupations are already in use throughout Germany: automotive mechatronics technician, salesperson, chef, qualified metal technologist in construction technology, cabinet maker, building coatings technician (painter) and farm worker.
MYSKILLS will be expanded to include 30 occupations. You will find the complete list of occupations here:
· Automotive mechatronics technician
· Building construction technologist - specialising in bricklaying
· Specialist in the hospitality industry
· Farm worker
· Qualified metal technologist - specialising in construction technology
· Construction finishing technician - specialising in tiles, panels and mosaic work
· Electronics technician - specialising in energy and building technology
· Building coatings technician (painter)
· Plant mechanic for sanitary, heating and air conditioning technology
· Geriatric nursing assistant
· Alterations tailor
· Skilled warehouse operator
· Professional driver
· IT specialist - specialising in system integration
· Industrial electrician - specialising in operations technology
· Machine and plant operator - specialising in metal technology
· Civil engineering technician - specialising in road construction works
· Specialists in furniture, kitchens and removal services
· Salesperson in the food industry - specialising in the bakery sector
· Process mechanic for plastics and rubber technology
· Gardener - specialising in gardening and landscaping
· Building cleaner
· Food technologist
It is important that the professional skills of refugees and migrants are assessed at an early stage to ensure they integrate rapidly into the labour market. For this reason, the tests are available in Standard Arabic, Persian (Farsi), Russian, Turkish and English as well as in German. This means that job hunting can begin earlier, and German language courses can be taken alongside work.
On the basis of the test results, candidates can better assess the requirements of a particular profession in Germany and where their own strengths lie. They can identify possible gaps in their qualifications and can then seek out the necessary further training.
The competence tests facilitate tailor-made placements in training, work-trials, internships or employment.
Employers are given a sophisticated picture of the professional know-how that an applicant will bring to the job thanks to his or her experience, even if they are lacking in recognised credentials. Employers are thus better able to assess whether somebody is suitable for a particular vacancy in their company.
No. The test result is used solely to support the search for work. Taking the test is voluntary. Likewise, the candidates themselves decide whether to include the test result with their job application documents. All other rights and obligations shall remain unaffected by sitting the test and the test result.
The tests are developed by researchers and experts in the particular occupations. Employers, examiners, trainers, vocational school teachers, and representatives of professional bodies and associations are involved in their development.
Researchers at the Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (f-bb) or the Humboldt University of Berlin and the Free University of Berlin, Ulm University, the University of Potsdam, and the German Institute for International Educational Research (DIPF) oversee and examine every step of the development and implementation of the test procedure (psychometrics, competency modelling, test scoring, test item construction, test booklet development, statistical analyses, evaluation). In addition, the project is supervised by a project advisory board with representatives from employers and employees, from the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) and the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts, and from federal ministries.
MYSKILLS complements existing tools for assessing the skills of migrants. Up to now, there has been no fast, standardised, informative, nationwide tool that measures informally acquired skills in performing professional activities.
Those who perform well at MYSKILLS may qualify for formal recognition procedures such as ValiKom or an external exam that evaluates tested skills using the standards of holistic vocational qualifications.
The Bertelsmann Stiftung wants to promote integration. With our studies, we analyse where and for whom opportunities are lacking, and we show reasons for the deficiencies and develop proposals for solutions. However, although these studies attract the most public attention, they are just one part of our work. Another important aspect of our work is testing proposed solutions in pilot projects and deploying them in practice. This applies, for example, to one of our main areas of work, i.e., the improved integration of job-seekers into the labour market - especially job-seekers with a refugee background.
As a result of its many years of programme work, the Bertelsmann Stiftung has amassed many scientific findings and empirical observations on training and further education, competency recognition and migration. In recent years, for example, the Foundation has developed competence cards, which are in high demand in integration consulting. In cooperation with the Federal Employment Agency, the Bertelsmann Stiftung uses these experiences to standardise competency assessment in a way that is not dependent on language abilities. Recognising the professional experience of refugees and migrants quickly and easily is, in our opinion, a milestone on the way to faster and better professional and social integration.