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EPALE - Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe


Validation procedure for formally obtained competencies—NetQA connects the relevant bodies

by Daniela Wiemers
Language: EN
Document available also in: DE

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Original language: German


NetQA BMBF Projekt Validierung

What is the idea behind the project?

Viewed from both a societal and political standpoint, the recognition of qualifications obtained abroad is an important factor when it comes to the integration of immigrants. It has become clear that a procedure exclusively based on documents is not always sufficient for assessing whether a qualification can be recognised. Some people who take part in such procedures are no longer able to obtain evidence of their qualification. In other cases, the existing documentation is not informative enough or cannot be compared with the German reference occupations.

Bear the legal basis in mind:

Since 2012, the Vocational Qualification Assessment Law (BQFG) has regulated the recognition procedures for professional qualifications obtained abroad on a federal level in Germany. These procedures usually encompass document analysis.

Should certificates, references or information regarding the content of the foreign qualification be missing and thus rule out the possibility of establishing equivalence, the applicant may demonstrate their professional competencies via so-called “other suitable procedures” (cf. Section 14 BQFG and Section 50b of the Trade and Crafts Code, HwO). The German federal states will have corresponding legal regulations, providing it concerns occupations regulated by them.

This procedure, which is part of the recognition of professional and vocational qualifications, is called “skills analysis”. It offers recognition authorities, applicants, and employers a professional estimation with regard to existing and missing competencies. The respective relevant body evaluates each individual case as to whether the skills analysis applies.

Projects on skills analysis:

The skills analysis was developed within the “Prototyping” project (2012–2014) commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as a set of tools for assessing competencies. The project that followed, “Prototyping Transfer – recognition via skills analyses” (2015–2018), saw the testing of these tools. They are, however, not yet offered across the board. Under NetQA (2019–2022), this network of relevant authorities is to be further expanded, thus establishing QA in a sustainable manner nationwide.

The objective of NetQA is to operate as a federal network of authorities responsible for the BQFG. The QA is a tool for exceptional cases, i.e. cases in which a sufficiently justifiable decision based on documents is not possible. Nevertheless, competence establishment procedures are on the rise in the context of non-formally and informally obtained competencies. When it comes to formally obtained professional skills, providing evidence via the skills analysis with NetQA should be further actively pursued.

What is the difference between skills analysis and validation?

Skills analysis is a competence establishment procedure and thus a validation procedure. A qualification certificate which is otherwise not sufficient—such as training in the automotive sector or another recognized trade profession for example—can be verified by assessing the competencies of the applicant in this field. This means that validation procedures also play a key role in the recognition of vocational skills obtained abroad, i.e. formally obtained professional competencies.

In practice, applicants are asked, for example, to provide evidence of their competencies in the German reference occupation (in our example, the automotive mechanic) by means of a technical discussion, a work sample or a work trial in a company. An occupational expert commissioned by the relevant body is responsible for the execution and assessment of the QA.

How long will the project run? What are the next steps?

As the QA has to be customised to each individual applicant, an intensive exchange between consultants at the relevant bodies is essential. They need to share their experiences with this procedure. In this way, quality standards can be ensured and the procedure can be more strongly established in practice. This will then lead to more skilled workers being able to work in Germany in the occupation they have learned. The project partners are the relevant bodies of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHKs) and the Chambers of Craft and Trade (HWKs). In the near future, they will be building up and expanding their networks in transfer regions beyond the project with neighbouring relevant bodies.

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Read more about the other innowatWB projects here (in German):

Zukunftsorientierte Weiterbildung braucht Innovation

More information on the recognition of qualifications:

Those interested in recognition can use the Recognition Finder on the site to search for the relevant body where an application for recognition of their vocational skills can be made.

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