How can a professional or vocational qualification acquired abroad be recognised? Against the background of an impending shortage of skilled workers and negative demographic developments, this is a question which has had a role to play in Germany for some time now.
In order to meet the demands of the German labour market by providing it with the skilled workers it needs, the so-called “Recognition Act” entered into force in April 2012. “Recognition” in this context is understood as a formal procedure assessing the qualification acquired abroad towards the German occupation.
In some occupations (the “regulated ones” e.g. doctors, nurses, lawyer, engineers) recognition is a prerequisite for access to the profession as well as for using the job title. For the non-regulated occupations (amongst them more than 350 so called “state-recognised training occupations”) recognition is no entry requirement to the labour market, but it is seen as an option in order to provide employers and companies with a better understanding of the foreign qualification.
The knowing which occupational competences are possessed by a person who has acquired a certain qualification should facilitate matching processes on the labour market. Thus a recognition process is geared towards creating trust between the labour market (the party that accepts qualifications) and the individual (the person who is applying for skilled work).
Some fundamental questions are linked with the implementation of recognition practices: How much information is required in order to assess a qualification as “equivalent” with a domestic one? How do countries with a long history of immigration approach the recognition of vocational qualifications and which procedures are in place? What are the perceived challenges to be faced?
The question of recognition models can also be resolved via the structure of the host labour market rather than merely via the migration policy governance function. If the structure of the host labour market is largely non-occupationally structured, as is the case in the UK for example, then relevant recognition procedures are not necessary and obsolete. In such contexts, far more scope is accorded to the quality assurance of basic skills such as health and safety via “regulators” or via the issuing of relevant “licenses”. The conflicting relationship in countries such as Switzerland and Germany between recognition of qualified residents and migrants and the protection of an occupational structure and associated quality standards does not exist in that extent in the UK, Australia or Canada. The initial evaluations of our interviews show that, in the latter countries, recognition models primarily have their basis in migration policy, labour market utilisation and/or inclusive criteria.
Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at Attracting, integrating, selecting?: reflections on the recognition of foreign qualifications in different contexts