Recognition of foreign professional and vocational qualifications in Germany and Russia


More than 100 participants took part in an online GOVET workshop on “Recognition of qualifications”. BIBB-Experts from the “Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications” Division informed on best practice, on the general prevailing conditions and empirical evidence

Recognition of foreign professional and vocational qualifications in Germany and Russia

Germany and Russia have been cooperating on vocational education and training more than ten years. GOVET has been supporting this collaboration on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) almost throughout this entire period. Both partners have worked on so-called demonstration examinations in order to further secure quality in VET. With Russian partner organisation NARK (National Qualifications Agency) include hairdressing and car mechatronics. The demonstration examinations involved the completion of German exams by Russian trainees and vice versa, the aim was to compare the requirements, level and quality of the evaluation of competences and skills; thanks to a nation-wide network of independent examination centers and a better understanding of requirement of the market in particular the introduction of independent examinations and national occupational standards, the mismatching of supply and demand on the labour market is less significant. 

On 20 May and at the request of the NARK, GOVET joined forces with the “Recognition of Foreign Professional Qualifications” Division at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) to organise an online expert workshop on the topic of “Recognition of qualifications”. This workshop featured more than 100 participants, focused on questions like: How is the recognition of qualifications in the non-academic area systemically structured in Germany? Which instruments were developed, and which results have emerged from Russia in particular? How is this topic being addressed in Russia?

The German impulses provided a comprehensive depiction of the recognition of foreign professional and vocational qualifications in the field of the dual initial and advanced training occupations. Alexander Studthoff from BIBB gave an introductory presentation in which he outlined the provisions contained within the Recognition Act in Germany and showed statistics relating to the recognition of professional and vocational qualifications from Russia. Maria Garb and Olesia Schmetzer from the BQ-Portal then presented the recognition procedures which apply in the craft trades sector and in trade and industry. The important role played by the BQ Portal, especially for the chambers of crafts and trades, became apparent. Information on VET systems and training regulations and curricula from numerous countries support the chambers with the recognition procedures. The need for relevant information met with a sympathetic response from the Russian workshop participants, and initial contacts with the BQ Portal were instigated directly.

Finally, two competent bodies responsible for recognition in the craft trades and in trade and industry respectively reported on their work. Angela Trumheller explained the key role played by the IHK Foreign Skills Approval Competence Centre (IHK FOSA) in carrying out recognition procedures in the area of trade and industry. She also set out some typical experiences with Russian qualifications. Elisa Ordonio and Simone Uhrmeister-Jammer talked about the remit of the Chamber of Crafts and Trades of the Palatinate in its capacity as lead chamber for Russian vocational qualifications in the craft trades and illustrated the significance of refresher training and skills analyses within the recognition procedure. The overall message was that recognition in Germany takes place in the form of scrutiny on an individual case basis and is dependent on the information available regarding the respective foreign VET.

Following a presentation on the legal situation in respect of the recognition of qualifications by Professor Alla Faktorovitch, Deputy Director of the NARK, our Russian colleagues described the importance of immigration of skilled labour in the Russian Federation, especially in the area of “welding” on major construction sites (copper mining in Siberia, the northern port in Murmansk and gas production in Khabarovsk). Russia mainly collaborates with Turkey, India and China in these areas. During the course of the workshop, it became clear that the trend in Russia is moving away from state diplomas towards mutual certification of qualifications and that a comparison of the most important documents is necessary for this purpose.

At the end of the workshop, the International Migration Organisation (IOM) in Geneva was also brought into the discussion. The IOM’s resident expert Vassiliy Yuzhanin, Head of the Labour and Human Mobility Facilitation Unit, presented the Global Skills Project “Towards sustainable integration of competencies into migration management”. This project launched in January 2021 with the aim of achieving effective cooperation in and management of qualifications-based labour mobility to the benefit of countries of origin and destination alike. The important aspects here are engaging in interregional and multilateral dialogue, gaining an understanding of the protection and rights of economic migrants and recognising and evidencing qualifications.

As the online workshop drew to an end, participants unanimously accepted the importance of exchanging training regulations and documents relevant for recognition and also agreed that this should take place as quickly as possible. A group of experts will engage in free further debate on the topic now that the general conditions for both countries have been delineated within the scope of the workshop.