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Reasons for Establishing a New Legal Framework

Immigrants with Turkish roots are less well integrated than other immigrant groups in Germany, according to a study. (© AP)

Inequality in Accreditation Practice

The missing legal basis up to now of accreditation procedures for qualifications acquired abroad, especially in the case of citizens of third countries, led in the past to significant anomalies and inequalities in accreditation practice. The International Placement Services (ZAV) of the German Federal Employment Agency (BA) in its final report for 2009 describes the "inadequate state of information relating to the complex accrediting options and competences in Germany" (Schneider/Pfund 2009: 9). The variety of divergent regulations of the federal government, the Länder and the European Union constituted one reason for the confusion and intransparency of the system in which immigrants had to find their own way to accreditation of their qualifications acquired abroad. Fragmented areas of competence and a lack of uniform administrative practice in the various Länder resulted from the lack of nationwide uniform standards and criteria for assessment and decision-making practice. The decisions made concerning accreditation procedures were not binding throughout Germany but instead applied only for the specific Bundesland in which they had been reached. The case of doctor Yin Yu described by Ackermann/Meier (2011) illustrates the varying possibilities of qualifications accreditation from one Bundesland to the next. Ms. Yin Yu tried in vain to obtain a license[1] in Baden-Württemberg, whereas in Bavaria she obtained one without difficulty. The reasons for this were different criteria for the granting of a license to practice. In Baden-Württemberg the accrediting agency based itself on the content and duration of her studies; the agency competent in Bavaria, on the other hand, based itself on the university at which she had studied (Ackermann et al. 2011). A positive accreditation certificate was valid only in that region which had confirmed the equivalence of an applicant’s qualifications, which in turn prevented any mobility within Germany itself. Another shortcoming of accreditation procedures so far has been their length. Because there was no fixed period for a decision, in many cases very lengthy procedures occurred, some of which lasted for years. Overall, the old system can be described as intransparent and inefficient. It disadvantaged certain groups of immigrants structurally, especially because of the lack of a general legal claim to the performance of an accreditation procedure (Integration Commissioner 2010).

Lack of Information

Many educated foreigners who wanted to have their certificates acquired abroad accredited in Germany failed, for instance, already during their search for the competent accrediting agency (Englmann et. al. 2007: 102). Hadeed (2004: 57) was able to show that structural obstacles could prevent integration into the labor market even in the case of highly qualified immigrants. A mere 12% of the 260 respondents[2] interviewed by him had been informed of the possibility of having a certificate acquired abroad accredited in Germany. In addition, shortages of information also led to failure over the course of the accreditation procedure. There was uncertainty in particular concerning the issue of the sequence, the length, the compensation mechanisms, and the costs of the procedure (Braun 2011). High financial costs arose, for example, from the procedure fees at the accrediting agency, because of the translation of certificates, or because of the need to complete several months of post-qualification measures. Many of those affected were unable to come up with the financial resources required (Brussig et al. 2009: 10). Becoming aware of these shortcomings and shortages ultimately led to an insight into the need for a legal foundation for changes, which was then created by the passage of the BQFG.

This text is part of the policy brief on "Procedures for the Assessment of Qualifications Acquired Abroad in Transition".
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An occupational license entitles the holder thereof to practice the profession they have learned in their country of origin in Germany. A work permit, on the other hand, entitles one to work in Germany.
In 2004 Hadeed interviewed highly qualified asylum holders and Jewish quota refugees in Lower Saxony who had a permanent right of residency and hence also a work permit for Germany.

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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