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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.2 Administration and governance

Last update: 28 November 2023
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  1. Governance
  2. Cross-sectorial cooperation


General distribution of responsibilities

The Basic Law of the Federal Republic of Germany regulates the responsibilities and competences of the federal government (Bund) and federal states (Länder). The federal states have legislative powers provided the Basic Law does not assign relevant powers to the federal government. Information on the responsibilities and cooperation at central and regional level in connection with the vocational education and training system can be found on the Eurydice platform under National Education Systems and on the website of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMF).

Main actors on a federal (Bund) level

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales, BMAS) is the national body responsible for the labour market and social policies. Its core tasks are to create job security and combat unemployment. It is also responsible for the employment and integration of young people into the labour market. BMAS's tasks in the area of labour market policy also cover such issues as employment support, initial and continuing training, unemployment benefit, securing skilled labour and integration, basic income benefits for job seekers, digitalisation and transformation of the working world, labour law and occupational health and safety.

BMAS is also responsible for implementing the EU Youth Guarantee (EU-Jugendgarantie) at national level. Under the Youth Guarantee, all young people will receive a good-quality offer of employment, initial and continuing training or a traineeship within four months of leaving education or becoming unemployed. In Germany, BMAS coordinates the implementation of the EU Youth Guarantee. It is responsible for improving cooperation between all stakeholders and partners at all levels and in all areas involved in the implementation. It is also the main point of contact for the European Commission on questions relating to the implementation of the EU Youth Guarantee in Germany.

Other ministries responsible for youth employment measures, vocational training and gainful employment at national level are the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF), the Federal Ministry for Economics and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz, BMWK) and the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSF).

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has general powers of coordination for vocational education. It develops strategies for attractive and sustainable vocational education and training and coordinates with other government stakeholders, e.g. in the National Skills Strategy (Nationale Weiterbildungsstrategie) and the Alliance for Initial and Further Training (Allianz für Aus- und Weiterbildung). In its Vocational Education and Training Report (Berufsbildungsbericht), which appears annually in May, BMBF documents developments in vocational education on a continuous basis. BMBF is also responsible for the Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz, BBiG) and the Upgrading Training Assistance Act (Aufstiegsfortbildungsförderungsgesetz, AFBG), which creates the main framework conditions for vocational education and training.

With targeted initiatives and programmes designed to address different challenges, BMBF strengthens vocational education in collaboration with various stakeholders, for example through stays abroad during vocational education and training programmes or advancement scholarships for employed persons who wish to develop professionally and personally by studying at university.

One of the programmes funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is the Vocational Orientation Programme (Berufsorientierungsprogramm, BOP). This programme helps school children recognise their strengths at an early age and gain their first practical experience in the working world. The Educational Chains Initiative (Initiative Bildungskette), which is also funded by BMBF, helps young people start working life and at the same time secures the next generation of skilled workers and coordinates structures in career guidance and school-to-work transition.

The Federal Ministry for Economics and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz, BMWK) supports and funds programmes and initiatives to foster entrepreneurial skills in schools and for start-ups, encouraging young people to become self-employed and raising awareness about the subject early on.

The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) is the ministry responsible for children and youth at national level on the legal basis of the Child and Youth Services Act (Kinder- und Jugendhilfegesetz), which corresponds to Book 8 of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB VIII). BMSFJ identifies key issues in child and youth protection, children's rights, childcare, youth education, media literacy as well as integration and opportunities for young people. This also includes labour market integration, and the training and employment of young people as part of their social integration.

Main actors on a regional (Länder) level

At the regional level, the respective state ministries (Landesministerien) of education, labour, social and economic affairs are responsible for vocational training, employment and entrepreneurship. As laid down in the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) of the Federal Republic of Germany, the federal states (Bundesländer) take chief responsibility for the general education system (schools and universities). As a result of this, school systems across Germany vary from state to state. The respective state ministries of education as well as the vocational schools themselves are responsible for college-based vocational training and for the vocational colleges themselves. See also information about Germany on the Eurydice platform.

Conferences of the Ministers

The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (Ständige Konferenz der Kultusminister in der Bundesrepublik, KMK) meets regularly and helps to promote the common education-related interests of the federal states. Regular topics are standardising and ensuring the comparability of certificates and grades, maintaining quality standards in schools, vocational education and higher education and fostering cooperation between educational, scientific and cultural institutions. The Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs has drawn up its own rules of procedure.

The Conference of Ministers for Labour and Social Affairs (Arbeits- und Sozialministerkonferenz, ASMK) is the permanent conference of the ministers and senators of the federal states who are responsible for labour and social policy issues. It serves to promote coordination between the federal states and liaises with the federal government. The ASMK advises and decides on key issues of labour and social policy. The chair of the ASMK changes annually according to a defined rota.

The Conference of Economics Ministers (Wirtschaftsministerkonferenz) coordinates economic policy cooperation between the federal states. The ministers exchange information and experiences and formalise joint political action in their own sphere of activity or vis-à-vis the federal government. The conference usually takes place once a year.

Public bodies

The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, BA) is a public body and the most important service provider on the labour market. It is responsible for the contribution-funded unemployment insurance (according to Book 3 of the Social Code / Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB III) and the tax-funded basic income benefits for job seekers (according to Book 2 Social Code / Zweites Buch Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB II). It provides labour and training market services for the public, companies and institutions. The Federal Employment Agency is also in charge of the Institute for Employment Research (Institut für Arbeitsmarkt und Berufsforschung, IAB), which conducts research into the labour market and professional environment and creates a basis for empirically founded labour market policies.

The Federal Employment Agency is led by the Nuremberg-based head office, which controls the BA's labour market programmes, finances and personnel development, among other things. To achieve the objectives of labour market policies, it develops products and programmes and manages the regional offices, or regional directorates. The ten regional directorates are responsible at medium level for implementing the BA's labour market policies. They work closely with the respective federal state governments. The regional directorates manage the local employment agencies

Altogether 155 agencies across the country implement the tasks of the BA in their area. They are responsible for unemployment insurance, career guidance and the promotion and placement of benefit claimants.

The job centres (Jobcenter) are responsible for people and households receiving basic income benefits for job seekers according to Book 2 of the Social Code (SGB II). In addition to providing basic income benefits for those eligible for benefits under Book 2 of the Social Code, they offer placement and advisory services, support workplace integration, initial vocational training and continuing vocational training and entry into the job market. Three hundred and one job centres can be found across Germany. They are run jointly by the Federal Employment Agency and municipal organisations. Additionally, 104 job centres are also run by local authorities (municipal job centres, also known as Optionskommunen, authorities taking part in the so-called "Optionsmodell"), which are solely responsible for the above services, in other words they operate without the involvement of the Federal Employment Agency. This is a different organisational form. The unemployment benefits law according to SGB 2 is the same.

The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Bundesinstitut für Berufliche Bildung, BIBB) is a government institution active in the area of politics, science, and the practical aspects of vocational education. Its tasks are defined in Section 90 of the Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz). Its core responsibility is to contribute to vocational training research in the form of academic research activities. The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training also created a central competence centre that focuses on all topics relating to the school-to-employment transition in the form of the Office for Transitions to Training and Employment (Fachstelle überaus). It promotes structural improvements and modernisation processes in these fields to help young people successfully enter the labour market.

Youth services agencies

The legal requirements of youth services are defined in the Child and Youth Services Act (Kinder- und Jugendhilfegesetz), or Book 8 of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB VIII). Section 13 of Book 8 of the Social Code (SGB VIII) is of particular relevance to vocational guidance for young people (Jugendberufshilfe) as part of youth services. Socio-educational youth work services support socio-educational counselling, school and vocational education, social integration, training and workplace integration as well as college-based activities. Vocational guidance schemes for young people include a range of state-backed services and programmes for occupational and social integration. The child and youth promotion schemes (Kinder- und Jugendförderpläne) of the respective federal states contain important provisions regarding the funding and implementation of these services. The municipal youth welfare offices oversee on-site implementation.

Providers of welfare services play an important role in implementing vocational guidance services for young people. They are legally independent providers, mostly organised in non-profit legal forms (registered association, non-profit private limited company) and affiliated to welfare associations. In the context of vocational guidance for young people, they help socially and personally disadvantaged young people transition from school to vocational training and gainful employment. Key contacts:

Providers of youth social work have joined together in the respective federal states to create state working groups for youth social work (Landesarbeitsgemeinschaften Jugendsozialarbeit, LAG JSA or LAG JAW). On the national level, they have formed the Cooperative Federation for Youth Social Work (Kooperationsverbund Jugendsozialarbeit). On the subject of work-related youth social work, the Cooperative Federation for Youth Social Work publishes the magazine Dreizehn, among others. Editions of this journal are available to download.

The BIBB platform Überaus lists other non-governmental stakeholders involved in the transition to training and work (federal associations, trade unions, federations).

Cross-sectoral cooperation

The Joint Rules of Procedure of the Federal Ministries (Gemeinsame Geschäftsordnung der Bundesministerien, GGO) govern the principles for the organisation of the federal ministries and inter-ministerial work. The federal states support and enhance the government's labour market policy. The federal and state governments work together in joint federal government-state government working groups (Bund-Länder-Arbeitsgruppen). The groups discuss topics of current importance, such as labour market issues, and develop proposals for improvement and make recommendations. Each federal state has a cooperation committee set up according to Section 18b of Book 2 of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB II). It is composed of the responsible highest state authority and the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit und Soziales). It coordinates the implementation of basic income benefits for job seekers in the federal states.

The Alliance for Initial and Further Training

The purpose of the Alliance for Initial and Further Training (Allianz für Aus- und Weiterbildung) is to improve the attractiveness, quality, effectiveness and integrative capacity of the dual system of vocational education and training. The overarching goal of the alliance partners is to enable as many people as possible to gain a qualified vocational qualification, with a clear focus on in-company vocational training. Representatives of the federal government, the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, BA), business associations, trade unions and the federal states signed the new Alliance for Initial and Further Training agreement on 26 August 2019 (Vereinbarung der "Allianz für Aus- und Weiterbildung 2019–2021"). This agreement sets out Alliance's agenda. The Federal Ministry for Economics and Climate Action (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Klimaschutz, BMWK) is responsible for the Alliance.

The Alliance website contains information about cooperations between the federal states (Länderbündnisse) in the area of vocational education and employment.

State and non-state agencies work together to assist people transitioning between school and work. They include welfare benefit providers, such as employment agencies (Agenturen für Arbeit), job centres and youth welfare offices (Jugendämter) as well as schools, employers' associations and trade unions. To support the transition from school to work, the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) works with the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (Kultusministerkonferenz der Länder, KMK) according to a framework agreement on cooperation between schools and career guidance services. Schools and businesses can work together via the SCHULEWIRTSCHAFT network. Local employment agencies and job centres plan training schemes together with employers, chambers and associations to ensure they meet local needs.

Youth employment advisory services

Youth employment advisory services (Jugendberufsagenturen) are a form of cross-jurisdictional cooperation between job centres (SGB II), employment agencies (SGB III) and youth services (SGB VIII). Their task is to bring together and interlink the services of these legal bodies for young people in order to facilitate the transition from school to work. The youth employment advisory services do not cancel out the division of the legal systems as required by law, nor do they constitute a legally independent institution with their own budget and staff. In practice, youth employment advisory agencies can have very different forms in terms of the nature and intensity of their collaboration. In a quantitative online survey of youth employment advisory services carried out by the BIBB in summer 2021, 353 youth employment advisory services were found across Germany. 99% work with other agents, usually schools. In addition to the youth employment advisory services in which all legal bodies work together "under one roof", there are other possible forms of contact, for example on the premises of cooperation partners involved in youth employment advisory services, consultation hours in schools or youth centres or mobile services. Other options focus on digital opportunities for cooperation and contact-making. The youth employment advisory services also coordinate activities, provide coordinated services and handle cases jointly.

The Youth Employment Agency of Hamburg, which has seven locations in the city and cooperates closely with partners, is widely considered to be a ground-breaking concept.