The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research have developed a National Skills Strategy (Nationale Weiterbildungsstrategie) together with the social partners, the Länder, chambers of commerce and skilled crafts and the Federal Employment Agency.
The strategy was officially adopted on 12 June 2019. For the first time in its history, the Federal Republic of Germany now has a national skills strategy. It is supported by a total of 17 partners: the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations, the German Trade Union Confederation, the Länder (Standing Conferences of the Ministers of Labour and Social Affairs, the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs and the Ministers for Economic Affairs), the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts, the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, trade unions (IG Metall, Gesamtmetall, GEW, Ver.di, IG BCE), the German Federation of Chemical Employers’ Associations and the Federal Employment Agency.
The National Skills Strategy provides impetus, binding mandates to review existing policies and specific measures for all parties involved. The aim is to work together to give workers, job-seekers and companies the opportunity to actively shape the changing digital world of work.
The National Skills Strategy builds on the Skills Development Opportunities Act (Qualifizierungschancengesetz), which already contains a binding right to counselling on continuing education and training by the Federal Employment Agency and extends support for continuing education and training also to workers who are affected by structural changes regardless of their qualifications or the size of their company.
The strategy implements one of the mandates contained in the coalition agreement, namely to develop a National Skills Strategy together with the social partners and in close consultation with the Länder (and all other stakeholders) – a strategy designed to streamline the skills programmes at federal and Länder levels, to align them with the needs of workers and companies and to establish a new culture of lifelong learning. The development of a National Skills Strategy aims to address the challenges posed by the increasing digital transformation of the world of work, which is changing job and qualification profiles and will lead to the emergence of new occupations. In such a context, continuing education and training is key when it comes to recruiting skilled workers and preserving and expanding job opportunities for people in Germany.
The basic idea is to not just train workers after they become unemployed or at risk of losing their jobs, but to take preventive action at an early stage. In future, the focus will no longer just be on formal qualifications, but also on individual skills. The aim is to help all current and future members of the workforce to maintain and adapt their qualifications and skills in a changing world of work and to enable them to up-skill or to change careers.
As far as companies are concerned, those companies which for various reasons cannot fulfil their responsibilities to provide for the continuing education and training of their employees will receive the most support. In addition, support will also be offered where workers have no access to skills development opportunities and where persons cannot cope with the challenges presented by the digital revolution on their own. In this context, special attention will be given to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and micro-enterprises.
Now the next step is the strategy’s concrete implementation. In 2021, the German Federal Government and its partners will publish a report on the implementation of the National Skills Strategy.