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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in vocational education and training and adult learning


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.3 National reforms in vocational education and training and adult learning

Last update: 22 May 2023


No reform measures have been initiated in this area to date.


Excellence Initiative Vocational Education and Training

The Federal Government's Initiative for Excellence in Vocational Education and Training (Exzellenzinitiative Berufliche Bildung) was launched in December 2022. The Excellence Initiative contributes to the skilled labour strategy and combines vocational education and training policy projects into an overarching agenda: It aims to make vocational education and training more modern and attractive. The focus is particularly on young people who can choose between different qualification paths (dual training, technical college, university). Within the framework of the Excellence Initiative, measures will be implemented in three central fields of action until 2026: 

  1. excellence through better promotion of opportunities for individuals
  2. excellence through innovative and attractive vocational training programmes
  3. excellence through international orientation 

The measures include comprehensive career guidance and digital orientation programmes, improved support structures through the Upgrading Training Assistance Act (Aufstiegsfortbildungsförderungsgesetz –), expanded scholarship programmes (field of action 1) as well as the development and testing of attractive (digital) qualification offers for initial and continuing education and training, including for training and examiner personnel, the further development of the National Continuing Education Strategy (Nationale Weiterbildungsstrategie) and the inter-company training centres (ÜBS) as centres of excellence of the dual system (field of action 2). In addition, international mobility in VET, recognition grants to support the immigration of skilled workers and the internationalisation of VET are promoted (field of action 3).

National Continuing Education Strategy

In June 2019, the Federal Government, the Länder, the social partners and the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit – BA) adopted a National Continuing Education Strategy. The strategy, which focuses on continuing vocational education and training (CVET), is intended to make a significant contribution to enabling both individuals and society to successfully cope with structural change and new challenges (e.g. automation, digitalisation). Continuing education offers and funding opportunities are to be made more transparent and accessible to all, in order to provide targeted support to groups of people with below-average participation in continuing education or small and medium-sized enterprises without large human resources departments. A first report on the results was published in June 2021.

In September 2022, the partners of the National Continuing Education Strategy decided to continue and further develop the strategy. Tried and tested instruments and concepts are to be brought into broad application and new ideas are to be discussed with practitioners and academics. Labour market and education policy instruments will be more closely interlinked, and general continuing education will be integrated, particularly with a view to future competences.

Within the framework of the EU 2020 Strategy, Germany has set itself the goal of increasing participation in continuing education to 65 percent. This goal is supported by the partners of the National CET Strategy. Common goals are, for example, the more targeted or addressee-appropriate support of heterogeneous target groups and the development of digital competences.

To implement these goals, the partners want to:

  • Facilitate access to counselling, promotion and further training offers, taking into account the financial and temporal framework conditions;
  • intensify cooperation in regions and sectors;
  • Further develop concepts for competences of the future, qualification planning in the company as well as company and collective agreement approaches to strengthen continuing education;
  • Strengthen digital CET with more transparency and innovative learning offers.


Measures to deal with the consequences of the COVID 19 pandemic

In June 2020, the coalition committee adopted the economic stimulus package "Combating the consequences of Corona, securing prosperity, strengthening sustainability" ('Corona-Folgen bekämpfen, Wohlstand sichern, Zukunftsfähigkeit stärken') and backed it with financial resources. With the federal programme "Securing apprenticeship places" ('Ausbildungsplätze sichern'), which was launched on this basis, a comprehensive network of support options was created and further developed in 2021 to maintain the supply of apprenticeship places and to continue vocational training programmes that have been started. A key element of the package is to maintain the number of training places on offer and to continue vocational training that has already begun, in order to give young people prospects for the future. The programme is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises with up to 499 employees that are particularly affected by the COVID 19 crisis. They receive temporary support also in the 2021/2022 training year to enable them to maintain their training activities and enable young people to start, continue and successfully complete their training. The Federal Government has provided will provide up to Euro 700 million in the years 2020 to 2022 to support training companies and training institutions in the health and social professions and their trainees. 

The second amendment to the First Funding Guideline for the federal programme "Securing Training Places" came into force at the end of March 2021. According to this, since the beginning of August training companies and training institutions can receive training premiums if they maintain or increase their level of training, subsidies for training and trainer remuneration if they avoid short-time work and takeover premiums if they take over trainees from companies that have become insolvent due to the pandemic. In addition, a Lockdown II special grant was introduced for micro-enterprises that provide training. The first amendment to the Second Funding Guideline to support pandemic-related contract and joint training, which was published at the end of April 2021, has made it possible to fund preparatory courses for the final examination.

Employment Security Act

The Act to Secure Employment as a Result of the COVID 19 Pandemic (Beschäftigungssicherungsgesetz) created an independent legal basis for the promotion of Continuing Vocatinal Eduation and Training (CVET) during short-time work.

Employers will be reimbursed 50 per cent of the social security contributions they have to pay alone until the end of July 2023 if they provide their employees with CVET during the period of short-time work. The prerequisite is that the CVET is started during short-time work, the provider and the measure are approved under Book Three of the Social Code (Drittes Buch Sozialgesetzbuch – Arbeitsförderung) and the measure lasts more than 120 hours or is carried out under the Upgrading Training Assistance Act (Aufstiegsfortbildungsförderungsgesetz). In addition, for CVET measures under Book III of the Social Code, the employer will also be reimbursed at a flat rate until 31 July 2023 for course costs depending on the size of the company.