Long out of the job: Are professional qualifications valid forever?

Anyone who has been out of work for a longer period of time still has a degree on paper.

Long out of the job: Are professional qualifications valid forever?

Anyone who has been out of work for a longer period of time still has a degree on paper. Some employers still consider you unskilled. But there are ways to get back to work.

When looking for suitable staff, Silvia Müller (name changed) is now flexible. That must be her. There is also a lack of trained employees in your industry. She is the managing director of a forwarding and logistics company.

"A dispatcher left us for personal reasons and we needed support fairly quickly," she says. That's why she hired someone who is considered a so-called career returnee. These are people who have learned a trade but have not worked in it for many years.

The reasons for this can be varied. The most common are child care, caring for relatives, unemployment. And they mostly affect women. Silvia Müller knew that her new dispatcher had an idea of ​​what a freight forwarder was all about because of the training. "That's why we took the opportunity to build up someone who has a basic knowledge base".

But the reality is somewhat different. "If customers have not worked in their trained profession for more than four years, we assume that they are alienated from their profession with a reduced level of knowledge," says Vanessa Thalhammer from the Federal Employment Agency. Depending on the individual case, this makes mediation less likely.

This coincides with the experience of Alexander Bredereck. The specialist lawyer for employment law is of the opinion that someone who takes a longer break practically has to start from scratch. Many employers would only hire trained specialists as unskilled if the professional experience was too long ago. According to Bredereck, they determine the period themselves.

Nevertheless, the following applies: "There is no expiry of professional and academic qualifications in Germany. They are valid for life," says Robert Schweizog, who until recently held the position of Managing Director for Education and Skilled Workers at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) in North Rhine-Westphalia held.

"If the validity were limited, that would have to be regulated in the Vocational Training Act. But it's not." At the same time, he qualifies that a certificate is not proof that the professional skills are still available. Rather, it merely shows that they were present at the time of the test.

Up until a few years ago, freight forwarder Silvia Müller gave preference to applicants who were on the job or who had only briefly interrupted their careers. With her newly hired dispatcher, she therefore paid particular attention to his social skills and motivation. And how quickly he can acquire the knowledge again.

For them, whether qualifications should have a limited validity depends on the profession. "I think that a driver who has learned how to operate, load and unload the vehicle, such a professional qualification is, in my view, longer valid than a commercial one". A lot is currently changing in this area technologically, structurally and legally.

Jasna Rezo-Flanze, further education consultant at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Cologne, is responsible for professional qualifications that are valid for life. However, you shouldn't rest on your laurels. For them, an apprenticeship is like a house. "If you don't work on it, it will expire." Many job descriptions are changing rapidly, mainly because of digitization.

She recommends looking after a longer break to see what has changed in the meantime. "You can find out a lot from current job advertisements or get advice directly. Then you can find out what is required".

There are also jobs that require further training. That says the President of the Association of German Labor Lawyers (VdAA), Michael Henn. Specialist lawyers like him, for example, would have to undergo 15 hours of further training in their area of ​​law every year. Without this evidence, the title "Fachanwalt für Arbeitsrecht" (Specialist Lawyer for Labor Law) would be withdrawn.

If you are unsure whether the skills you have learned are still sufficient after a long break in your job, you can apply for support. Support local chambers of commerce and employment agencies, for example with an education check or an adjustment qualification.

It helps to bring the knowledge from the learned profession up to date and increases the prospect of returning to the old job.

But even if that works, companies need financial, human and time resources to retrain returnees. According to Robert Schweizog, they don't always have a choice because of the shortage of skilled workers. Companies are giving people returning to work more opportunities, even if they have to invest first.

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