Vocational orientation – provision for refugees

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research uses this website to present its career orientation activities for refugees and newly arrived immigrants.

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research’s (BMBF) career orientation programmes and projects for refugees and newly arrived immigrants are managed by the Vocational Orientation Programme Office. These are aimed at a range of target groups.

  1. Refugees no longer subject to compulsory education – “Career Orientation for Refugees” Programme (BOF)
  2. Refugees still of school age attending vocational schools – projects within the scope of the “Educational Chains Initiative”
  3. Refugees still of school age attending general schools – “Vocational Orientation Programme” (BOP)

The project map provides an overview of all the BMBF’s vocational orientation projects.

1.  “Career Orientation for Refugees” Programme (BOF)

“The Career Orientation for Refugees” Programme (BOF) of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) offers young refugees and immigrants with need for support detailed insights into training occupations. Throughout the whole of the scheme, they learn specialist terminology and knowledge for the training occupation they aspire to enter and also receive socio-pedagogical support. The “Career Orientation for Refugees” Programme takes place in workshops and at companies.

Workshop sessions provide more detailed vocational orientation


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Special sessions are staged at the workshops and practice rooms of inter-company vocational training centres. These workshop sessions provide participants with the opportunity to take a close look at between one and three training occupations which they believe could be right for them. They spend a minimum of nine weeks and a maximum of eighteen weeks discovering whether the selected occupations actually match their personal suitability and preference.

During the workshop sessions, they also learn more about the structure and contents of dual training in Germany and specifically within the occupations they have chosen, and prepare for the demands of vocational school.

Company-based phase to test out the preferred occupation

Participants opt for a training occupation on the basis of the experiences they have gained during the workshop sessions. They then complete a company-based programme phase at a company in order to test out this occupation further. They spend a minimum of four weeks and a maximum of eight weeks at the company, during which time they apply the competences previously acquired in operational practice. They experience work processes at first hand and are able to familiarise themselves with the company. By the same token, the firm also has the opportunity to meet potential trainees.

Imparting of occupationally related language and specialist knowledge

During the workshop sessions, participants receive intensive language and specialist language teaching. This language knowledge is further enhanced during the subsequent company-based phase.

Part-time model is available

Refugees may also complete the Career Orientation Programme on a part-time basis. This ensures, for example, that the scheme is also open to both women and men with childcare responsibilities. Participants are also eligible for support with the organisation of childcare arrangements.

Support throughout the whole of the measure

All participants benefit from robust support that is tailored to meet their individual needs. Support workers provide them with regular verbal feedback and with written documentation of learning progress. These support staff also ensure placement in training or in a further measure as the case may be. Another additional option open to participants is coaching via the so-called Senior Expert Service (SES). This assistance is provided by specialists in the various fields who are now in retirement.

If no direct transition to training is possible, participants can undergo further preparation for this step via a further measure (such as introductory training or a company-based practical placement).

2. Projects within the scope of the Educational Chains Initiative

Ein Teilnehmer schneidet ein Stück Holz zu.

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The initiative "Graduation and continuation – Education chains up to the vocational training qualification” Supports young people with the completion of schooling, vocational orientation, obtaining an apprenticeship placement and successfully concluding vocational education and training. The Educational Chains Initiative was established by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in 2010.

Some of the vocational orientation projects within the Educational Chains Initiative are specially directed at refugees at vocational schools. These projects are presented in the “Educational Chains Projects” section of the website. Projects financed via federal funding are implemented in conjunction with the federal states. The structuring of these projects takes regional facts and circumstances into account.

Competence assessment procedures and practical workshop activities are normal components of all projects, and these elements are the same as those used in the Vocational Orientation Programme (BOP).  Two further aspects are the imparting of language knowledge and personal support from suitably qualified socio-pedagogical staff. Some projects supplement vocational school teaching by providing a practical vocational orientation element, whereas other projects constitute holistic integrative provision.

3. Refugees in the Vocational Orientation Programme (BOP)

Eine Schülerin sägt ein Stück Rohr welches in einem Schraubstock eingespannt ist.

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Many young refugees and migrants attend general schools in Germany. This means that they will also take part in the “Vocational Orientation Programme” alongside their German classmates.

Although the standard Vocational Orientation Programme has not been specifically designed with refugees in mind, project staff will, of course, address the particular needs of this group of young people. The “Refugees in the Vocational Orientation Programme” (BOP) section of this website describes experiences with young migrants in general schools.