Further training is offered and implemented by various protagonists, e.g. directly by the employer or company providers, by commercial further training companies and also by community and state providers. The community providers especially include trade associations, guilds, professional organisations and non-profit associations. Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Industrie und Handelskammer, IHK) or Chambers of Crafts (Handwerkskammer, HWK) are also community providers. State providers of further training are (distance) universities, colleges and other academic institutions as well as adult education centres (VHS).
A Volkshochschule (VHS), sometimes also called a Bildungszentrum in German, is a non-profit adult education centre usually run by the local authority, which provides a diverse programme of further education and training courses on a wide range of topics. Typical subject areas covered by the courses at a VHS are:
- Politics, society, environment
- Job and career
- Foreign languages, as well as German as a foreign or second language
- Dealing with and using digital media
- Health education, e.g. nutrition, sport
- Culture and design
- Basic education and literacy
- Preparation for obtaining school-leaving qualifications (as a way to catch up)
- Study trips and excursions
The duration of the courses ranges from a few hours to several months of study. The educational programme includes both free and fee-based offerings and is usually aimed at adults aged 16 and over, although many centres also have a programme especially for children. The courses are individually tailored to the needs of working people, job-seekers, housewives and house-husbands, as well as senior citizens, and can take place in the mornings, evenings or as intensive courses at the weekend, depending on the target group and availability. The further education offered at Volkshochschulen includes the following formats:
- One-off events
- Compact seminars
- Study trips
- Company courses
Most towns and cities have their own local Volkshochschule. You can register for available courses at a VHS near you at any time. A full overview of courses offered both online and on site at Volkshochschulen in Germany is available here. In addition to the courses offered, the national association of Volkshochschulen, known as the German Adult Education Association in English (DVV), provides an online offering for studying writing, reading and arithmetic. More information on this offering is available here.
Using the search engine of the Deutscher Bildungsserver (German Education Server) for further training courses you can currently search approximately 3.5 million course listings. The “InfoWeb Weiterbildung” is a meta-search engine that can be used to search for further training offers in all areas of further training throughout Germany. This searches various national and regional further training information systems simultaneously with a uniform search mask. So with just one search query, about 85 databases are currently searched at the same time.
On the website “Deutscher Bildungsserver” you can also search specifically for further training offers in individual Länder. At the Volkshochschulen (adult education centres) you will also find purely online further training courses.
Using the search engine of the Deutscher Bildungsserver (German Education Server) for further training courses you can find the closest advice and information centres that provide information and advice on training and further training opportunities, important legal regulations and, where applicable, financing options which are neutral and independent of training providers. The further training advice centres also include the local Chambers of Crafts (HWK) and Chambers of Commerce and Industry (IHK). The employment agencies and job centres also provide advice on further training opportunities. You can find your competent employment agency and the nearest job centre here.
The information portal “hoch & weit” is the information portal where state and state-recognised German institutions of higher education publish information about their further training courses that is updated on a daily basis. Offers for all age groups, sectors and career levels can be found using a detailed search. For example, there is the option to take a free, scientifically-based further training interest test based on self-assessments.
ReDi School of Digital Integration is a non-profit organization that offers learning opportunities in the subject area of IT as well as career and mentoring programs especially for migrants and refugees with an interest in technologies. Collaboration is done with various technology companies, start-ups and digital industry leaders. Topics range from web development as well as data analytics up to cyber security and are available in German or English. In addition, separate courses are offered for women, children and teenagers, as well as self-study courses. These courses can be conducted online or on-site. German locations of ReDI School are in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and North Rhine-Westphalia (Duisburg).
For more information about ReDI School, see here.
Upgrading training courses lead to qualifications in recognised occupations. They are regulated training courses that usually end with an examination at an officially competent body (e.g. Chamber of Crafts or Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Land).
Furthermore, further training programmes funded by employment agencies (Social Security Code (SGB) III) and job centres (Social Security Code (SGB) II) can only be carried out by approved providers. Measures that are accessed using an activation and placement voucher (Aktivierungs- und Vermittlungsgutschein, AVGS) are also specially checked and approved.
In Germany, further vocational training is financed jointly by companies, the person participating and the state. In order to enable everyone who is interested in further vocational training to participate, irrespective of whether their employer contributes or not, there are numerous funding opportunities from the federal government and the Länder in the form of direct financial support (e.g. Upgrading Training Assistance (Aufstiegs-BAföG)) or indirect support measures (e.g. educational leave). In order to clarify the specific personal funding situation, you should visit a further training advice centre or your local employment agency. You can find a further training advice centre in your area, for example, using the search engine of the Deutscher Bildungsserver for further training courses.