How to Get a 'Bildungsgutschein'?

What is a 'Bildungsgutschein'?

A 'Bildungsgutschein' (education voucher) is your ticket to a certified training course. Usually, the voucher covers all the costs of the training. You can take a course to enhance your skills in a certain career direction and improve your chances to get your dream job. So it is not only your way out of unemployment but might be also a way to a new career path. The voucher is either issued by the Jobcenter or Agentur für Arbeit (Employment Agency). The purpose of a Bildungsgutschein is to equip jobseekers with valuable, in-demand skills that will help them find a job. It’s important to note that, while studying with a Bildungsgutschein, you will still be entitled to receive your unemployment benefits.

Who is eligible for a 'Bildungsgutschein'?

In order to obtain a training voucher from the German job center, you’ll need to fulfil certain criteria. You may be eligible for a Bildungsgutschein if you belong to one of the following categories:

  • You are currently employed but facing the possibility of unemployment
  • You are currently unemployed and want to re-enter the job market
  • You require further training or retraining in the absence of a relevant vocational qualification
Your local Jobcenter or Employment Agency will ultimately decide if you are eligible for a Bildungsgutschein. Before you can seek advice from the Jobcenter, you need to be resident in Germany and to have completed the official registration process ('Anmeldung' in German). If you’ve got both of these boxes ticked, you’re ready to start the application process! Let’s take a look at that in more detail now.

How to apply for a 'Bildungsgutschein'?

So you’re either unemployed or soon to be unemployed, resident in Germany and in possession of your Anmeldebescheinigung (proof that you have completed the official registration process). You can now see if you’re eligible for a ‘Bildungsgutschein'. Schedule an appointment with your local agent (Agentur für Arbeit or Jobcenter)!
First things first, you need to make an appointment with your local agent (Agentur für Arbeit or Jobcenter). If you haven’t been in touch with them before, you can find your local center simply by searching online, e.g. “Agentur für Arbeit Berlin” or “Agentur für Arbeit near me”. Once you’ve made an appointment, you’ll be assigned an advisor. They will act as your designated contact person for all further appointments. How to prepare for your appointment at the Agentur für Arbeit
Once you’ve got your appointment, you need to show your advisor at the job center how you could benefit from a training voucher—so it’s important to come prepared. It helps if you already have a particular course in mind that you would like the Agentur für Arbeit to subsidize. This way, you can explain the benefits of the course in detail and present a good case for why you should receive a training voucher. The course you have chosen should have a vocational identification number (Berufskennzahl in German, or BKZ) and a measure number (Maßnahmennummer). You can get these numbers from the educational institution providing the course. We’ll explore the kinds of courses you can take with your Bildungsgutschein a little later on. Whichever course you’ve got your eye on, it helps if you can demonstrate some kind of continuity between your professional background and the course you intend to take. If there is no obvious link, you can focus on the benefits of the course itself, and how it will improve your career prospects. Highlight the kinds of opportunities you’ll be able to access once you’ve taken the course, and explain why you want to enter into this field. You might come prepared with job ads and statistics to show that there is plenty of demand for the skills you hope to learn using your Bildungsgutschein. What should you bring to your job center appointment? Aside from a well-thought-out case for your desired course, there are a few things you should bring with you to your job center appointment. In terms of documents, make sure to have an up-to-date copy of your CV to hand, together with the aforementioned proof of registration in Germany (Anmeldebescheinigung) and some form of ID, such as your passport or ID card. There’s no guarantee that the Agentur für Arbeit advisors will speak English, so if you don’t speak German, you may want to bring a German-speaker with you to your appointment. So, just to recap, here’s your Agentur für Arbeit / Bildungsgutschein appointment checklist:

  • Personal ID (passport, ID card)
  • Proof of registration in Germany (Anmeldebescheinigung)
  • Up-to-date CV
  • Information about the course you want to take, including job ads and employment stats
  • The vocational identification number (Berufskennzahl) and measure number (Maßnahmennummer) for your chosen course
  • A German-speaker / translator if necessary
The Agentur für Arbeit is not legally obliged to grant you a ‘Bildungsgutschein'; it’s decided on a case-by-case basis. However, it is their mission to get you back into the job market, so if you come well-prepared for your appointment, the odds are very much in your favour.

What courses are available with a 'Bildungsgutschein'?

Now you know what a Bildungsgutschein is and how to apply for one, let’s consider what kinds of courses are available. Kursnet is an online database of all courses that can be taken using a Bildungsgutschein—and there are approximately 400,000 courses to choose from! You can quickly search for relevant courses via the search box. You can find everything from German language courses to marketing, office management, accounting, and beyond. Your 'Bildungsgutschein' can also be used to learn cutting-edge tech skills. If you want to train for a high-paid job in a rapidly-growing industry, consider using your voucher to train yourself up and land a job in tech.

How will a 'Bildungsgutschein' help you land a job?

The idea behind the training voucher is to enable jobseekers to learn new skills—skills that will improve their employment prospects and help them re-enter the job market. It is therefore important to choose a path that both interests you and is likely to open up some good opportunities. Perhaps you’ve been out of work for a while and are keen to get back into your previous career. In this case, you could use your 'Bildungsgutschein' to update your skillset. If you are looking for a complete career change, your 'Bildungsgutschein' can help with that, too. In the tech field especially, there is an ever-growing demand for developers, designers, technicians and so on. So learning these skills is certainly going to make you more employable.

Studying with a Bildungsgutschein: What next?

Once you’ve received your training voucher from the job center, you’ll need to take it (or send it off) to the educational institution running your chosen course. Once they have filled out the relevant information, you’ll need to bring the completed Bildungsgutschein back to your advisor at the Agentur für Arbeit. Then you’re ready to go! After completing the course, the organization you studied with might help you to land a job or an internship. At ReDI School, we support you with finding the right connection to advance your career. Through our huge partner network and a 1:1 mentorship your are not only supported with your network but also individually by professionals!

With friendly support from CareerFoundry - extracts taken from this article