The Importance of Accreditation

Migrants learning German in a government venture in Saxony designed to expedite the accreditation of foreign qualifications. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

In the context of the discussion on the accreditation of qualifications acquired abroad, various scholarly studies have made it clear that there is a connection between the recognition of immigrants’ qualifications acquired abroad and successful entry into the German labor market. Brussig et al., for example, in 2009 studied the economic costs of a deficient structural integration of immigrants in relation to the connection between the drawing of social assistance pursuant to the German Social Insurance Code II (German acronym: SGB II; "Hartz IV") and having an immigrant background. On a national average, 25% of SGB II recipients are migrants (cf. Fig. 1). Of these, only 11.4% have an accredited certificate, while 28.8% have none (Brussig et al. 2009: 7).

Possession and Accreditation of an Occupational Certificate among Recipients of ALG II with an Immigrant Background Lizenz: cc by-nc-nd/2.0/de (bpb)

In carrying out their study, the authors established that people with qualifications acquired abroad who were unable to obtain accreditation of their certificates were just as unsuccessful in the labor market as those immigrants who lacked an occupational certificate altogether. With the accreditation of a certificate acquired abroad, the chances of finding employment, on the other hand, increased by 50% (Brussig et al 2009: 8). In addition to ensuring Germany’s need of skilled workers, an improved situation for accreditation also pays off as far as social policy is concerned by better integrating immigrants into the labor market. Integration into employment matching one’s level of education accelerates the entire integration process (Schneider/Pfund 2009: 10f).

Moreover, the institutional confirmation of an equivalence between a foreign and a German educational certificate and the accompanying acknowledgement of qualifications acquired so far has a positive influence on the self-esteem of immigrants, since their (life) achievement up to that point is thereby recognized. The recognition of foreign qualifications in this sense provides advantages to both sides: to the German labor market through full utilization of the qualification potential of immigrants and to the affected immigrants themselves, since the latter experience an acknowledgement of their achievement hitherto and their labor market opportunities are considerably improved. In this way stabilization in employment areas far below one’s actual level of qualifications may be avoided (Van Hausen 2010: 191). Despite the repeatedly confirmed significance of the recognition of foreign qualifications for the (structural) integration of immigrants, the accreditation procedure system in Germany has been characterized up to now by numerous difficulties and obstacles. These will be discussed in the following.

This text is part of the policy brief on "Procedures for the Assessment of Qualifications Acquired Abroad in Transition".
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Daria Braun

Daria Braun

Daria Braun wrote her diploma thesis on the recognition and accreditation of occupational qualifications acquired abroad of physicians in Hamburg. With this she concluded her studies in the field of Latin American Regional Studies at the University of Cologne. Since Mai 2012 she has been working as expert on educational questions for the Otto Benecke Foundation e.V. in the Central Drop-In Center for Accreditation (Zentrale Erstanlaufstelle Anerkennung) in Berlin. E-Mail: Daria.Braun@obs-ev.de

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