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Vocational guidance, career counselling and placement in training

March 1, 2013

The Federal Employment Agency plays a key role in integrating young people into the workplace and training system.

Counselling interview in an employment agency

The Federal Employment Agency plays a key role in integrating young people into the workplace and training system, as it offers vocational guidance and career counselling to youth and adults. The Agency compiles information on the supply and demand of training places and jobs in a variety of ways, including job and employment listings on the Internet; advertisements in printed media; and the job and training placement services of employment offices. The Employment Agency can also assign the placement task to private labour market service providers. The authorities providing basic income support for jobseekers support young people eligible for benefits in being placed in work and training.

Vocational guidance

Vocational guidance is geared towards young people and adults. In particular, vocational guidance comprises the provision of advice and information about the choice of a career, specifics on individual careers and career requirements, ways of funding vocational education and training, important trends in the world of work, information on the situation and development of the labour market, and advice on how to find employment or a training place. The vocational guidance counsellors work together with interested adolescents and young adults to ascertain goals and objectives, and identify vocational opportunities and alternatives.

Young people wishing to study can avail of special study advisory services at their local employment offices. One-on-one meetings can be arranged with vocational guidance counsellors at the employment offices to discuss the choice of study programme, entry requirements and other requirements of the degree courses, employment prospects and financing schemes.

Labour market advice

Labour market advisory services provided by the Employment Agency focus on employers, and aim to support and assist employers fill vacant jobs and training places. This is achieved by providing advice and information particularly with regard to the current situation and trends in professions and the labour market, job structures, working conditions and work time, in-company initial and continuing training, and the integration of employees and trainees in need of assistance.

Career counselling

Systematic career counselling seeks to have a positive influence on the choice of career and thus the future personal and professional life of youth and young adults. Comprehensive information on vocational training, the responsibilities, requirements and prospects associated with various professions, as well as information on employers, ways of accessing and funding vocational training, and developments and trends in the training and labour market help young people to choose their future career path. Identifying people's individual interests, skills, competencies and talents is central to making a reliable choice of career.  In this context, information is also provided on job application processes and closing dates for applications.

Talks held in schools with senior-year pupils, career counselling events at career information centres (BIZ), as well as a wide range of digital and printed media, provide a framework for encouraging young people and adults to specifically discuss and examine these issues. Furthermore, the Employment Agency can also support pupils at general schools by providing career counselling programmes so pupils are better prepared to choose their future career. These programmes are implemented by educational institutions on behalf of the Employment Agency, and require at least 50 percent to be co-funded by third parties, usually the Länder .

Career entry support programme

Career entry mentors seek to assist lower-attaining pupils at schools offering general education. The mentors provide individual, ongoing support from the penultimate school year through to the first half of the vocational training year to help pupils transition from school to vocational training. This service can be provided for a maximum period of 24 months on completion of schooling if the pupil does not manage to make the transition to training immediately. Initially tested as a pilot project at 1,000 schools for a limited period, the positive results of the programme evaluation prompted the government to introduce the Act to Improve Integration Opportunities in the Labour Market ( Gesetz zur Verbesserung der Eingliederungschancen am Arbeitsmarkt ) to help as many young people as possible cope better with the transition. This Act lifted the time restriction on the career entry support programme on 1 April 2012, introducing it – in modified format – as a new permanent regulation into the Employment Promotion Act (Arbeitsförderungsrecht, Third Book of the German Social Code (SGB III)). From now on, the programme can be implemented at all lower secondary schools ( Hauptschule ) and special schools.

Given that the Federal Government and the Länder bear joint responsibility for this area, at least 50 percent of this programme must be co-funded by a third party. This is particularly a matter for the Länder . As many Länder were unable to arrange co-funding for the career entry support programme at short notice, the Federal Government will guarantee co-funding for career entry support measures beginning in the two years prior to graduation (2012/2013 and 2013/2014 school years) at the current 1,000 pilot schools. This is an interim solution. Co-funding is to be provided through an ESF federal program starting from the 2014/15 school year.


Training and employment are key to ensuring individuals can safeguard their livelihoods. For this reason, free public training and job placement services are an important part of the vital services provided by the state. The placement of people in jobs and training is the task of local employment offices, authorities providing basic income support for jobseekers, and of labour market service providers mandated by the former two to perform such tasks.

The sooner placement efforts can commence, the more successful the possible outcome. Therefore, it is advisable to contact the local employment office in good time. Individuals whose period of training or employment is coming to a close are even obliged to report to their local employment office at least three months in advance (in-company vocational training excluded).

Placement services in local employment offices are generally based on the systematic compilation of a career biography and the resulting professional knowledge, skills and talents. Job opportunities are then identified based on this profile. An integration agreement is concluded between the client and job officer. This agreement is binding for both the jobseekers/ training-seekers and the career advisors/job placement officers, and defines the desired integration objective, planned course of action, steps required towards professional integration and the next scheduled meeting. The integration agreement is revised and adapted where necessary throughout the course of the placement process.

Jobseekers and training-seekers can browse the online employment listings of the Employment Agency for information on vacancies, and can also use this platform to publish their application profile. The profile may also be published anonymously if the candidate so desires.

Vocational guidance, career counselling and placement services for employable individuals in need of assistance

All employable needy individuals, regardless of their employment officer, are legally entitled to vocational guidance and career counselling from an employment office. In addition, vocational guidance and career counselling can be provided as discretionary benefits by the authorities providing basic income support for jobseekers.

The authorities providing basic income support for jobseekers are responsible for the placement of recipients of long-term unemployment benefit ( Arbeitslosengeld  II ).

The authorities providing basic income support for jobseekers can assign the Federal Employment Agency centres that are responsible for the promotion of employment the task of placing in training training-seekers who are entitled to benefits.

Pos­i­tive sit­u­a­tion in the train­ing mar­ket over­all

Following the conclusion of the vocational guidance year on 30 September 2012 and the start of the follow-up placement campaign, the partners to the Training Pact and the Federal Employment Agency have taken stock of the situation in the training market.