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31.7.2012 | Von:
Daria Braun

The Accreditation System in Transition

Ein IHK-Schild vor der Industrie- und Handelskammer Rostock (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), aufgenommen am 23.04.2013.Street sign pointing out the direction of the chamber of industry and commerce in Rostock, Germany. (© picture-alliance/dpa)

Bundling of Competences

The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) bundles together its accreditation agencies on a cross-Länder basis. Starting at the end of March 2012 in Nuremberg, the IHK Foreign Skill Approval (FOSA), a central agency for nationwide accreditation and assessment in the area of the chambers of industry and commerce, took up its work. The advising of those seeking accreditation takes place, however, on a comprehensive basis in the individual chambers of industry and commerce on location (IHK FOSA 2012).

The Chambers of Crafts (HWK) decided to form so-called "central chambers" (Leitkammern) under whose jurisdiction certain groups of countries fall and which support the regional accreditation agencies in their consulting responsibilities (AG 2011: 9). The project PROTOTYPING also aims to promote a unified approach in the assessment of foreign qualifications in the chambers of crafts sector.[1] This project identifies approaches and tools for determining occupational competences outside the formalized examination system with the goal of establishing action guidelines with which the chambers may apply uniform nationwide examination procedures (Westdeutscher Handwerkskammertag [West German Chambers of Crafts and Skilled Trades’ Council] 2012).

Accordingly, independent of legal regulations, efforts are underway to create a bundling of competences, the aim of which is to make the system more transparent. Overall, the accreditation system with the numerous different accreditation agencies and the differing occupational and state laws remains confusing despite the BQFG. Improved access to information aims to provide orientation.

Access to Information

Since so far there has been no official Internet page for the accreditation of qualifications acquired abroad, two new Internet portals have been set up. The page www.bq-portal.de of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology supports decision-makers in the accreditation process by gathering comprehensive information on professional qualifications acquired abroad. The webpage www.anerkennung-in-deutschland.de, which has existed since the end of March 2012, provides information on the accreditation law and has been commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It is aimed particularly at immigrants who want to have their qualifications acquired abroad accredited and assists them in the search for the appropriate competent accreditation agency (BMBF 2012). Both portals offer essential information on the legal situation as well as on the procedures and areas of competence relating to the accreditation of qualifications. In addition, with the coming-into-effect of the BQFG a central telephone hotline was established in the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, which makes available the required initial information needed by those seeking accreditation. In the first month following its establishment the telephone hotline was already used over 1,000 times (BAMF 2012a).

Initial Drop-In Centers for Accreditation

In the area of the accreditation of qualifications acquired abroad, the IQ Network, as already mentioned, aims to supply improved initial advising for those seeking accreditation. In many Bundesländer there is now at least one such so-called "initial drop-in center for accreditation," providing the person in question with advice independent of the accreditation agency itself. The regionally active IQ Network has at the federal level created a nationwide active "Expert Section for Accreditation," which scientifically monitors the implementation of the BQFG and acts as a service point and a dialogue panel for regional network actors (IQ Expert Section for Accreditation 2012).

Beyond these measures, from the perspective of the Federal-State Working Group the pilot role is important, since statutory institutions such as aliens’ registration offices, immigrant advisory offices and youth immigration services, diplomatic missions, and employment agencies represent drop-in centers for immigrants (AG 2011: 20). In order that the decision-makers in question may take on this pilot role, they need further training.

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


Coordination is done by the West German Chamber of Crafts Council, promotion by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in collaboration with the German Central Confederation of Skilled Crafts [Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks].
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