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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.6 Integration of young people in the labour market

Last update: 28 November 2023
On this page
  1. Youth employment measures
  2. Flexicurity measures focusing on young people
  3. Reconciliation of private and working life for young people
  4. Funding of existing schemes/initiatives
  5. Quality assurance

Youth employment measures

Germany has a wide range of labour market policy instruments that can be used to implement the key recommendations of the EU Youth Guarantee. See also the National Implementation Plan to Establish the EU Youth Guarantee in Germany, which was approved by the German Federal cabinet on 8 April 2014, and the assessment of the Youth Guarantee implementation in Germany (January 2020). The Plan describes existing services available in the area of education, employment and training that promote and improve the integration of young people into the labour market. On 1 July 2020, the European Commission put forward a proposal to reinforce the Youth Guarantee, which was unanimously approved by the Member States. Compared to the 2013 recommendation, the revised Youth Guarantee extends the age limit from under 25 to 29 years to enable more young people to benefit from the scheme. Another new aspect is the focus on especially vulnerable young people, such as those with disabilities, members of minority groups or those living in remote rural areas or deprived neighbourhoods.

The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit, BA) plays a key role in implementing labour market instruments at national level. The regional employment agencies are required under Section 37 of Book 3 of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch Drittes Buch, SGB III) to conclude an integration agreement (Eingliederungsvereinbarung) with young people seeking vocational training or employment. This agreement must be reviewed after three months. The same applies to the job centres; they too conclude an integration agreement (Eingliederungsvereinbarung) with young people who receive basic income benefits for job seekers (Arbeitslosengeld II). The integration agreement details the integration goal, the placement efforts of employment agencies, evidence of the young person's own efforts and any planned employment support measures. On this basis, young unemployed people aged 25 or under who receive basic income benefits for job seekers, take priority when vocational training places or jobs are awarded. To help integrate young people into training programmes and the labour market, employment agencies and job centres can use the support measures described in Book 2 of the Social Code, listed in section 3.5 "Traineeships and apprenticeships" of the chapter Employment & Entrepreneurship. Young people receiving benefits under SGB II can also use the support instruments of community service jobs (Arbeitsgelegenheiten) (according to Section 16d of Book 2 of the Social Code) as well as low-threshold care and support services (according to Section 16h of Book 2 of the Social Code).

A variety of ESF-supported programmes run by federal ministries and authorities also help promote the integration of young people into the labour market. The ESF programme brochure of BMAS contains an overview of the period 2014-2020.

Examples of the implementation of the European Social Fund at national level:

The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (Bundesministerium für Arbeit and Soziales, BMAS):

  • The JUVENTUS support programme is aimed at disadvantaged young people and promotes their integration into the German labour market through in-company traineeships in other EU countries. Young people can gain experience in other countries, thus improving their prospects on the labour market. The programme promotes the development of participants' professional prospects with a view to their lasting integration into the labour market. The funding guidelines for the ESF Plus programme JUVENTUS were published on 13 October 2022. The core of JUVENTUS is a supervised internship in another EU Member State lasting several months, integrated into a project cycle with intensive preparation and follow-up phases. The projects are implemented by cooperation networks where job centres or employment agencies, businesses and project organisers collaborate closely. Support is offered to unemployed young people in consultation with the responsible job centre. JUVENTUS helps promote youth employment within the scope of the ESF Plus federal programme. The experience abroad also shows participants the advantages of a social Europe based on their everyday lives and experiences.
  • The programme WE – Networks integrating refugees into the regional labour market (WIR - Netzwerke integrieren Geflüchtete in den regionalen Arbeitsmarkt) aims to accommodate the specific needs of refugees in terms of their participation in the labour market in Germany. This programme prioritises persons with impairments or disabilities as well as those with secondary illnesses specific to their forced migration. The funding supports tailored measures aimed at integrating the target group into the labour market, for example by helping them (re-) start school to obtain a school-leaving certificate, or by supporting the transition from school to work. Other offers are designed to maintain, enhance and restore employability. The approach includes the long-term support and counselling of participants, even after they have started work or training. It also includes information events, awareness-raising measures and training for public administration institutions, businesses and other entities which have contact with the target group. Regional cooperation with businesses and vocational schools is also promoted. Funding is provided for project or cooperation alliances, i.e. networks in which relevant stakeholders are involved in the project work as cooperation or sub-project partners.

Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ)

  • ESF pilot programme Supporting young people in the neighbourhood (JUGEND STÄRKEN im Quartier) (2014-2022) in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of the Interior and Community (Bundesministerium des Inneren und für Heimat). The programme supports young people in 161 selected model communities across Germany. Projects in deprived neighbourhoods and districts that are part of the "Social City" programme, or comparable hotspots, receive systematic support. The programme targets young people who, as a result of social disadvantages or personal impairments, are out of reach of general and vocational education and training, basic income benefits and employment promotion services. They require individual socio-educational support services according to Section 13 of Book 8 of the Social Code (Sozialgesetzbuch, SGB VIII) when transitioning from school to work. The pilot projects are implemented by public and independent organisations involved in youth social work. Municipal youth services regulate and coordinate activities and work closely with independent youth service providers, job centres, employment agencies, schools, neighbourhood management systems and other cooperation partners. Funding volume (2019-2022): 4 million euros federal funds, 87 million euros ESF funds. In 2018, 123,000 young migrants were supported with 52.9 million euros.

For more details about information on employment opportunities and support services for young people, see Chapter 3.4 "Career guidance and counselling services".

Flexicurity measures focusing on young people

As an integrated strategy for enhancing both flexibility and security in the labour market, flexicurity aims to reconcile employers' needs for a flexible workforce with workers' requirements for job security. There are no specific flexible employment schemes for young people.

Relevant legal frameworks are: the Act on the Implementation of Measures of Occupational Safety and Health to Encourage Improvements in the Safety and Health Protection of Workers at Work (Arbeitsschutzgesetz), the Act on working hours (Arbeitszeitgesetz), the Act on parental allowance and parental leave (Gesetz zum Elterngeld und zur Elternzeit, the Young Persons (Protection of Employment) Act (Jugendarbeitsschutzgesetz), the Act on shop opening hours (Ladenschlussgesetz) and the Act on part-time employment and fixed-term employment contracts (Gesetz über Teilzeitarbeit und befristete Arbeitsverträge).

In addition to collectively agreed rules for certain professions or industries, specific topics and areas within a company are regulated by works agreements (Betriebsvereinbarungen). These also apply to the young people working at the company in question. Individual agreements regarding working hours are set out in the contract of employment.

Security as an essential element of flexicurity is also provided by entitlement to state benefits in the event of unemployment and need for assistance (Hilfebedürftigkeit). Young people are entitled to unemployment benefit (Arbeitslosengeld) if they meet the relevant requirements. From the age of 15, they can also apply for unemployment benefit II (Arbeitslosengeld II) to secure their livelihood, if they meet the relevant requirements, especially the need for assistance.

Under Germany's Upgrading Training Assistance Act (Gesetz zur Förderung der beruflichen Aufstiegsfortbildung), young people are also entitled to support provided they meet the relevant requirements.

Reconciliation of private and working life for young people

Germany's existing legislation and programmes to promote the reconciliation of personal and professional commitments also apply to young people. There are no programmes or initiatives to improve the reconciliation of private and working life specifically for young people.

Regarding their working hours, young apprentices/employees are covered by current regulatory and policy framework conditions and regulations. Section 7a of the Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz), which contains provisions on part-time vocational education and training, applies to young people undergoing vocational training. According to this Act, a reduction of the daily or weekly training time can be agreed for the entire training period or for a specific period in the vocational training agreement. The daily or weekly training time may not be reduced by more than 50%. The length of the part-time vocational training programme extends accordingly.

The possibility of completing vocational training on a part-time basis has been anchored in the Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz, BBiG) since 2005. This was extended at the beginning of 2020 to include all persons interested in vocational training. While part-time vocational training was aimed especially at people with family responsibilities prior to the amendment, the revision means this form of training is now open to all people. This opens up career opportunities for people who are unable to complete training on a full-time basis because of personal circumstances, for example because they have to learn German, have mental and physical limitations or participate in competitive sport. The option still applies to the existing target group of people with family and care responsibilities.

External vocational training (außerbetriebliche Berufsausbildung, BaE), funded by the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesgentur für Arbeit) under Section 76 of Book 3 of the Social Code (SGB III), can also be carried out on a part-time basis if there are important reasons for doing so (Special directives/Fachliche Weisungen BaE, p.15).

Some federal states also have appropriate support programmes that allow for vocational training to take place on a part-time basis, for example the programme "Part-time vocational training – Supporting entry into the labour market – Opening up perspectives" (Teilzeitberufsausbildung – Einstieg begleiten – Perspektiven öffnen, TEP) run by the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia (Ministerium für Arbeit, Gesundheit und Soziales des Landes NRW), funded by federal state funds and the European Social Fund. This enables persons with family responsibilities to undergo vocational education and training.

Young families or single parents can also use the different types of childcare or financial aid available if they meet the necessary criteria. Information about reconciling family and working life can be found on the Federal Employment Agency website (Bundesagentur für Arbeit).

The municipal youth welfare offices support care services in childcare facilities and day nurseries to improve the reconcilability of family and work commitments. The state parental allowance (Elterngeld) supports parents who are on lower incomes because they are temporarily working less or not at all after the birth of a child. The parental allowance helps to secure the family's financial livelihood. State support also makes it possible to reconcile flexible and reliable work time arrangements.

Funding of existing schemes/initiatives

Employment promotion measures are funded by the federal government and Länder ministries responsible for the measure or programme. In some cases, ESF funds are used.

The Youth Wiki chapter on Employment & Entrepreneurship provides more information on the funding of career and employment development measures under:

  • Career guidance and counselling
  • Traineeships and apprenticeships.

Quality assurance

The Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) has a comprehensive monitoring system in place for its funding programmes. It compiles statistics on participation rates in vocational support schemes and certain participant characteristics, such as age, school and vocational education and length of unemployment. Outcomes are also documented, especially transitions to work, training and employment measures. The Federal Employment Agency's monitoring system is supplemented by online surveys of participants in career preparation schemes to obtain appropriate feedback on the schemes themselves.

A large number of programmes and schemes run by federal and regional ministries are systematically assessed and evaluated in Germany. Findings are used, among other things, to develop programmes further. The respective evaluation reports are usually available online.