3.7 Cross-border mobility in employment, entrepreneurship and vocational opportunities
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A range of programmes, initiatives and schemes run by the European Union (EU), the federal government (Bund), the federal states (Länder) and foundations help promote cross-border mobility in the area of vocational education and training.
European Union (EU) programmes
Germany participates in the European EURES cooperation network which offers a job placement service and promotes the mobility of employees. The network helps European citizens enjoy the same benefits despite language barriers, cultural differences, bureaucratic hurdles, different labour laws and the lack of recognition of educational qualifications in Europe.
The Erasmus European exchange programme offers young entrepreneurs the opportunity to work for up to six months in a small or medium-sized enterprise in another EU Member State and to learn from an experienced entrepreneur. Under certain conditions, financial support is available to cover travel expenses and the general cost of living.
The EU's Erasmus+ programme supports the learning mobility of individual persons. These may be students, education workers, pupils, trainees, teachers, volunteers and other interested persons. Vocational traineeships, training periods, continuing vocational education, youth exchanges and European Voluntary Service places are funded. Germany has four national agencies for the Erasmus+ programmes, each in charge of a different field:
- Vocational education and training/adult education: National Agency Education for Europe (Nationale Agentur Bildung für Europa, NA BIBB) at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, BIBB)
- Higher education: German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD) as National Agency for EU higher education cooperation
- School education: Pedagogical Exchange Service (Pädagogischer Austauschdienst, PAD) of the Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (Kultusministerkonferenz)
- JUGEND für Europa is mandated by the EU Commission as the National Agency to implement the Erasmus+ Youth (2021-2027) and European Solidarity Corps (2021-2027) programmes in Germany.
Transnational programmes and initiatives
JUVENTUS helps disadvantaged young people integrate 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.
There are also numerous programmes and initiatives for transnational youth exchanges:
- PROTANDEM, a Franco-German agency for vocational training exchanges.
- The Franco-German Youth Office (Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk) supports various opportunities for intercultural professional contacts and traineeships.
- The voluntary vocational traineeship programme (Freiwillige Berufliche Praktika) run by the Czech-German Youth Exchange Coordination Centre (Deutsch-Tschechischer Jugendaustausch Tandem) is for vocational colleges, training companies and inter-firm training facilities.
- The German-Polish Youth Office (Deutsch-Polnisches Jugendwerk, DPJW) funds vocational training-related traineeships.
- Under the Parliamentary Scholarship Programme (Parlamentarisches Patenschafts-Programm), pupils and young employees can spend a year in the United States on a German Bundestag scholarship.
- The German-Israeli collaborative vocational education programme (Deutsch-Israelisches Programm zur Zusammenarbeit in der Berufsbildung) offers vocational teachers, experts and trainees from both countries the chance to share experiences and learn from each other. It is coordinated by the National Agency Education for Europe at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Nationale Agentur Bildung für Europa, c/o Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung).
- The ASA Programme of ENGAGEMENT GLOBAL gGmbH – Service für Entwicklungsinitiativen funds work and study visits to Africa, Latin America, Asia and South-Eastern Europe for 21- to 30-year-olds.
- The Development Cooperation Trainee Programme (EZ-Traineeprogramm) is a youth development programme run by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ), which is run by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of BMZ.
- The CrossCulture Programme (CCP), run by the Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations (Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, ifa), promotes cooperation between stakeholders from culture, education, science, the arts and media, and strengthens civil society networks.
Information and counselling for young people
The Information and Support Centre for Vocational Training Abroad (Informations- und Beratungsstelle für Auslandsaufenthalte in der beruflichen Bildung, IBS) at the National Agency Education for Europe at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (NA beim BIBB) advises and informs young people about opportunities to spend time abroad during vocational training.
International Placement Services (Auslands- und Fachvermittlung der Bundesagentur für Arbeit, ZAV) of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesgentur für Arbeit) advises school pupils, students and employees interested in vocational training, university studies or work abroad. ZAV and other agencies contribute to the working group Arbeitskreis Wege ins Ausland, in which eleven institutions including schools, universities, vocational training providers, labour services and youth work agencies provide information and advice for school pupils, apprentices, students and employees as well as any other interested parties about ways to spend a period abroad.
Eurodesk Deutschland compiles information for young people about going abroad and participating in international exchanges. It is funded by the Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) and by the EU Commission.
The advisory network (Berater:innennetzwerk) of the chambers of trade and crafts and chambers of commerce and industry, Training Without Borders (Berufsbildung ohne Grenzen), advises apprentices and young skilled workers about stays abroad during their vocational training.
The German Committee (Deutsches Kommittee) of the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) at the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD) helps students at German universities find traineeships with companies and in research and higher education institutes abroad.
Databases with information about stays abroad relevant to vocational training
- My traineeship abroad (Mein Auslandspraktikum) is a database of information for apprentices about traineeship placements abroad.
- The European information network database Eurodesk offers information about traineeships in Europe.
- rausvonzuhaus.de website run by IJAB – the International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany (Fachstelle für Internationale Jugendarbeit der Bundesrepublik Deutschland e.V.) offers information about traineeships abroad and about initial and continuing vocational training abroad.
For more information on international learning mobility programmes in Germany, see also the Youth-Wiki chapter on Education and Training.
For young people from EU or other states who are completing vocational training or a traineeship or work in Germany
Social security system
Young people from an EU country or citizens of an EU Member State can use their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) within the European Union or EFTA states, provided their stay is temporary. Young people from outside Germany who start work in Germany are covered by the relevant German laws and regulations regarding healthcare and insurance laws and regulations. Persons who take up employment which is subject to social security contributions also pay contributions towards the statutory pension, long-term care, healthcare and unemployment schemes.
Trainees and young employees can find information on health insurance and the insurance system in Germany on various websites:
- The website of the Deutsche Verbindungsstelle Krankenversicherung – Ausland (DVKA) contains information for students and trainees about health insurance in Germany.
- The EURES Job Mobility Portal has information about living and working in Germany.
- The official multi-language portal for qualified skilled workers from abroad make it in Germany provides information about immigration procedures and visa requirements, finding a job, social insurance and everyday life in Germany.
Rights and obligations
Under the Act on the General Freedom of Movement for EU Citizens (Gesetz über die allgemeine Freizügigkeit von Unionsbürgern), young people who are citizens of EU and EFTA member states do not need a work permit to work in Germany. Under certain conditions, citizens of all other states may be granted a work permit. For details, please refer to the Migration Check tool of the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit).
Young people from non-EU countries need a residence permit in order to take up work in Germany. Young people from outside Germany who start work in Germany are subject to the relevant German laws and regulations regarding healthcare and insurance as well as labour market laws and regulations. Access to the German labour market is regulated by the provisions of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz).
The federal government's portal Recognition in Germany (Anerkennung in Deutschland) offers information about the recognition of foreign professional qualifications in Germany.
Young people who take up employment in Germany are subject to the relevant German laws and tax regulations.
For young people from Germany who are completing vocational training or a traineeship or are working abroad
The legal basis for completing practical vocational training with a company abroad is Sections 2 and 76 B of the Vocational Training Act (Berufsbildungsgesetz, BBiG). Under Section 2 of BBiG, part of a vocational training programme can be completed abroad if it serves the training objective. Apprentices can spend up to a quarter of the training period in another country and this will be recognised in Germany.
The legal basis for the funding of training stays abroad is Sections 5 and 16 of the Federal Training Assistance Act (Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz, BAföG). It also specifies the duration of possible funding.
The Federal Employment Agency website (Bundesagentur für Arbeit) provides young people with information about working abroad.
Social security system
Whether or not a trainee or temporary employee is obliged to pay into the statutory healthcare scheme is generally determined by the legislation in the country in which the traineeship or job is being performed. Provided their stay is temporary, young Germans working in an EU or EFTA member state can use their European Health Insurance Card.
Trainees and young employees can find information on health insurance and insurance systems abroad on various websites:
- Website of the Deutsche Verbindungsstelle Krankenversicherung – Ausland (DVKA) contains information for students and trainees about health insurance abroad.
- The EURES Job Mobility Portal has information on insurance schemes abroad.
- The website of the Information and Support Center for Vocational Training Abroad (Informations- und Beratungsstelle für Auslandsaufenthalte in der beruflichen Bildung, IBS) offers information for young people about insurance cover abroad.
- Website of German Pension Insurance (Deutsche Rentenversicherung) offers information about pension insurance contributions while working abroad.
Rights and obligations
Young people from Germany who take up work in an EU or other country are subject to the relevant laws of the country in which they are working. Under the Act on the General Freedom of Movement for EU Citizens (Gesetz über die allgemeine Freizügigkeit von Unionsbürgern), they do not need a work permit for EU/EFTA member states.
Young people from Germany who go abroad to work are covered by the relevant laws and tax regulations of the host country.