Education and Traninings

four human figures representing different occupations and the skyline of Berlin in the background

What is the difference between training and further education?

With training, you can learn a job from scratch. By contrast, in the case of further education you learn more about your own occupation, such as changes in the law, new technologies or more details. Training in Germany takes place either in a company or in a special college or in a combination of company and college. It is possible to do an internship before the training in order to familiarise yourself with the desired occupation and the company.

Can I do training?

As an EU citizen, you can do training in Germany.

Before professional training takes place, students usually undergo job orientation and preparation, which means, they have already had contact with a professional field beforehand.

If you come from outside the EU, this is dependent upon whether you do college-based or company-based training.

In the case of company-based training, you work in a business for several days per week and learn the occupational practice there. In addition, you regularly attend vocational college, where you learn the theory. This form of training is considered to be employment and you may require a work permit for it. Because you are already working as a trainee, you also receive payment, although this is significantly below the normal wage level during the training.

With dual professional training, trainees finalise a training contract with the trainer and are trained both in the company (practical experience) and also in the professional school (theory). During training, the trainees receive training compensation.

Information in English on the dual training system can be found in detail here: The German Vocational Training System

In the case of college-based training, the entire training takes place at a college. Such training is available for example in the health and social sector or in some technical and IT occupations. College-based training is not considered to be employment and is therefore possible with no permit. However, no payment is received for it. At many colleges you actually have to pay for the training.

If you want to do company-based training, it is important to consider whether the gainful activity (self-employment or employment) or employment (employment only) is permitted for you. This is governed by the conditions indicated in your residence document (e.g. residence permit, settlement permit, permission to remain, permission to remain until deported).

If “Beschäftigung nicht erlaubt” (employment not permitted) is stated there, then you can generally do no training. However, if “Erwerbstätigkeit gestattet” (gainful activity permitted) or “Beschäftigung gestattet” (employment permitted) is stated there, then you may also do training. If “Beschäftigung nur mit Erlaubnis der Ausländerbehörde” (employment only by permission of the immigration authority) is stated there, then you must go to the immigration authority with a specific training offer and apply for the permit there.

In the asylum process, you are not permitted to work in the first three months after issue of the permission to remain or permission to remain until deported. A work ban also applies in the period during which you are obliged to live in the reception centre (maximum of six months after registration). If these periods have expired, you may apply for a permit for vocational training. Asylum seekers from so-called “secure countries of origin” are subject to a permanent employment ban, if an asylum application that was filed after 31st August 2015 was rejected. They are not permitted to work and they are not permitted to do training throughout the entire asylum process or even during a subsequent period of permission to remain until deported. The following are considered “safe” at present: Ghana, Senegal, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo.

If you have permission to remain until deported, you are not permitted to work for the first three months of your residence in Germany. However, an exception applies for company-based training. You may begin this even during this period. Provided that you come from one of the above-mentioned “secure countries of origin” and applied for asylum after 31st August 2015 and had it rejected, you are not allowed to work or receive training. A work and training ban also applies if you are permitted to remain until deported solely because your deportation is not feasible and the immigration authority is accusing you of being responsible for the reasons for this, particularly if you have provided false information about your identity.

If in doubt, a look at your residence papers will tell you in all these cases whether you are permitted to work and even to do company-based training. However, conditions are sometimes amended belatedly even though, for example, the waiting periods have already expired. Ask at the immigration authority or seek legal advice if you are unsure.

How can I find a training position?

Training is offered at vocational colleges or in companies. You can search specifically for job vacancies for training in Berlin with the aid of job search at berlin.de. Vocational information centres (BIZ) of the employment agencies are represented in almost all districts of Berlin.

When looking for a training position, proceed similarly to the manner for a job search.
In the job market of the Federal Labour Office you can narrow the search for training positions.

The advisers at Berlin Welcome Centre can also help you with the search for a training position. The chamber of industry and commerce (IHK) and the chamber of trade (HWK) are also important contacts for training positions.

Useful links:

How can I finance my training?

You can obtain financial support if you do college training for which you receive no money or company-based training from which the pay is not adequate to live and if your parents are unable to provide you with sufficient support. This is called a state training grant.

However, this does not apply if you are resident in Germany explicitly for the purpose of training (§ 17 of the German residence act). In this case, you or your parents must provide for your cost of living. Third parties, for example a charity, may possibly support you.

For school pupils and trainees in college-based training there is the pupil Federal Training Assistance Act (BAföG) grant – but only if the training institution is eligible for funding. You can find out from the school itself whether it is eligible.

Citizens of EU states and their families can obtain the pupil BAföG grant under the same conditions as Germans. If you come from a non-EU state, your claim is governed by which residence status you have. Recognised refugees or relatives of Germans for example can also obtain the pupil BAföG grant under the same conditions as Germans. Holders of certain humanitarian residence permits or permission to remain until deported must observe a waiting period of 15 months. Holders of certain other residence permits or of permission to remain must actually have lived and worked in Germany for five years or their parents must have lived and worked here for three years. You can find out what applies to you from the educational grant office responsible for you. The educational grant offices are based at the district authorities of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Lichtenberg and Pankow.

For the application, you need:

  • Identity document, with certificate of registration if applicable
  • Residence permit, exceptional leave to remain or permission to remain
  • Form
  • Proof of income or declaration from the applicant
  • Proof of assets of the applicant
  • *Birth certificates of your children

Further information can be found on the pages of berlin.de.

For trainees in company-based training there is the vocational training allowance and for trainees with disabilities there is the education benefit. Similarly to the provision of the pupil BAföG grant, access to the funding here is dependent upon your residence status. Citizens of EU states and their families can obtain the vocational training allowance (BAB) under the same conditions as Germans. Phased waiting periods apply for people from non-EU states. Holders of certain residence permits issued on humanitarian grounds or for family reunification are therefore entitled to the vocational training allowance after three months of residence in Germany.

Asylum seekers who are expected to receive the right of permanent residence can obtain the vocational training allowance after 15 months of residence (this currently applies for people from Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Somalia and Syria). People with permission to remain until deported must also wait 15 months. Asylum seekers from other countries and people with other residence permits must either have lived and worked legally in Germany for five years themselves or it is expected for at least one of their parents to have lived and worked in Germany for three years. You can find out from your local employment agency, to which you also make the application, whether you can claim the funding yourself.

In addition to the financial support for your training, there are also options to fund it through certain provisions. Vocational preparation training measures serve to provide you with knowledge which helps you in the training. If you did not have the opportunity to attend school for long in your country of origin, the acquisition of a school certificate can also be facilitated for you. Assistance during training helps you to complete your training successfully. This may concern learning the German language in greater depth but also the acquisition of theoretical knowledge and practical experience for your skilled occupation. Special assistance is also provided for people with disabilities to enable them to cope with the training.

If you come from an EU state, you are entitled to this additional aid in the same way as German citizens. If you come from a country outside the EU, access to this aid is dependent upon your residence status. Even during the asylum process, you can receive support if you have been in Germany for at least three months and are expected to receive the right of permanent residence. This is currently assumed for people from Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Somalia. Holders of a residence permit must also wait three months in many cases before they are entitled to the additional aid in connection with training. Even longer waiting periods from one year up to six years apply for people with permission to remain until deported.

How can I obtain further education?

Further education serves to go into greater depth in a specific occupation. Provisions are available from various institutions.

In Germany, certain school qualifications are required in order to begin further education or training. If these are not in place, they can be caught up through so-called second-chance education, so that you meet the admission requirements for training or further education. This also applies for your educational or vocational qualifications from your home country which are not recognised here as being equivalent to German qualifications. To find out how to obtain recognition for your vocational qualifications obtained abroad, see the point on recognition of vocational qualifications.

You can then finish school or obtain a higher qualification at evening classes and other institutions. More information about this can be found from the senate department for education – available in german language.

At the Berlin Welcome Centre, you can take specific advice on training and further education opportunities. An overview of all further education opportunities is available from the further education database of the state of Berlin and in the learning shops.