Skip to main content
European Commission logo


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: 8 May 2024


Citizen's Income Act

The Citizen's Benefit Act (Bürgergeld-Gesetz) came into force on January 1, 2023. One clear focus of the law is to strengthen further vocational training. People who have completed further vocational training or a vocational qualification are to be given long-term, qualified employment. The funding opportunities were expanded as of July 1, 2023 and access was made easier, e.g. for the acquisition of basic skills (reading, writing, arithmetic and IT skills). The possibility of funding unabridged retraining was also expanded. A new form of financial support was introduced in the form of a monthly training allowance for further training leading to qualifications. In addition, the bonuses for passing intermediate and final examinations for qualification-oriented further training have been made permanent.

Act to strengthen the promotion of training and further education

In summer 2023, the Act to Strengthen the Promotion of Initial and Further Training (Gesetz zur Stärkung der Aus- und Weiterbildungsförderung) was passed, which aims to strengthen domestic potential for securing skilled workers in Germany. In addition to extending the regulations on reimbursements for vocational training during short-time work, it includes the introduction of a training guarantee, the reform of general employee support and the introduction of a qualification allowance. 


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 find broad application and new ideas are to be discussed with representatives from practice and science. 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. In addition, concrete measures and activities for the further development of the continuing education system and for strengthening the culture of continuing education are to be agreed. Labor market and education policy instruments will be more closely interlinked, and general continuing education will be integrated, particularly with a view to future skills. The first National Continuing Education Conference took place in November 2023, the second is planned for the first half of 2025.

In addition, a Federal-Länder Committee (BLA) was established in 2019 as part of the implementation of the National Continuing Education Strategy (NWS). The overarching aim of the format is to coordinate early on and improve the coherence of federal and state funding for continuing vocational education and training. Since 2019, this has enabled the coordination of federal and Länder funding and advisory measures in continuing education as well as the exchange of transfer and experience.

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 was aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises with up to 499 employees that were particularly affected by the COVID 19 pandemic. They receiced temporary support to enable them to maintain their training activities and enable young people to start, continue and successfully complete their training. Das Programm umfasste Ausbildungsprämien bei Erhalt oder Erhöhung des Ausbildungsniveaus, Zuschüsse zur Ausbildungs- und Ausbildervergütung bei Vermeidung von Kurzarbeit, Übernahmeprämien bei Übernahme von Auszubildenden aus pandemiebedingt insolventen Betrieben, wurde ein Lockdown-II-Sonderzuschuss für ausbildende Kleinstunternehmen und Förderungen von pandemiebedingter Auftrags- und Verbundausbildung. 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.