A done deal: the Continuing Education Act is coming.

 The “Act on Strengthening the Subsidization of Vocational Training and Continuing Education” was passed.

A done deal: the Continuing Education Act is coming.

The Continuing Education Act is intended to simplify and better promote continuing education in the future with the aim of enabling employees to keep pace with the at times rapid changes in the world of work. In addition, the law does not neglect to promote vocational training for young people.

New challenges for everyone

In particular, digitalization and climate change are creating massive changes in the world of work.

Without further education or vocational training, many people risk being left behind, especially young people without vocational training and older people whose education no longer matches modern requirements.

We have already examined this issue in our blog series on structural change and labor law.

Continuing education will become more accessible

There were good reasons why the current Federal Government included the issue of continuing education and vocational training in the coalition agreement and has now begun implementing these plans: At the end of June 2023, the German Bundestag passed the “Act on Strengthening the Subsidization of Vocational Training and Continuing Education”. The Federal Council then approved the law on July 7, 2023. The way is now open for the law.

The Continuing Education Act aims to simplify further education options and make them more accessible to all companies. At the same time, the law also aims to make it easier for young people to accept an apprenticeship position or to obtain an apprenticeship position. In particular, small and medium-sized enterprises will benefit from this training and development initiative by the German government.

Core aspects of the “Continuing Education Act”

The law primarily envisages the following measures as a means of achieving these goals:

  1. Qualification allowance
    In the future, companies undergoing structural changes will be able to release employees from their duties and yet retain them as employees with the help of the qualification allowance: If the released employees pursue further education to ensure that they will be able remain employed at the same company in the future, they may receive the qualification allowance instead of remuneration as of April 01, 2024. In return, the company “only” has to bear the corresponding costs for the further education.
  2. Continuing education promotion
    The further education subsidization described in Section 82 of the German Social Security Code Book III (SGB III) will also be amended as a consequence of the Continuing Education Act. For example, there will be fixed subsidization rates. At the same time, there will also be fewer funding combinations with the aim of creating greater transparency in order to encourage the use of continuing education offers. In addition, more employees will be able to take advantage of further training subsidies as of April 01, 2024.
    It is important to note that, in the future, continuing education subsidies will no longer depend on the necessity of continuing education due to structural changes at the company. Nor will the continuing education have to be connected to a “bottleneck occupation” in order to be subsidized.
  3. Training guarantee and mobility allowances
    Last but not least, the Continuing Education Act will also include measures such as a training guarantee as of August 2024: Young people who cannot find an apprenticeship will be able to take advantage of extra-company training, even though many companies and professional associations are critical of this option. At the same time, more opportunities for short internships at companies for career orientation purposes will become available.
    Alongside these measures, the law aims to make apprenticeships located further away more attractive to young people. Employment agencies will be able to provide more support for vocational orientation and when starting vocational training. Last of all, a mobility allowance for two journeys home per month along with additional allowances for accommodation and travel costs will serve to enable greater mobility when choosing vocational training.

The Federal Government’s Education and Skilled Workers Strategy

With the Continuing Education Act, the German government is focusing on the qualifying personnel in Germany. At the same time, the German Bundestag also passed a law to further develop skilled labor immigration with the aim of tackling the structural shortage of skilled workers.

The coming years will show whether these new laws will actually have a positive impact.

Summary of the key facts

The Federal Government’s Continuing Education Act

  • intends to counteract the shortage of skilled workers through more extensive education and training subsidies,
  • supports companies undergoing structural changes through measures such as qualification allowance,
  • guarantees young people vocational training and provides financial assistance to full training slots across the regions.