The JOBSTARTER plus funding programme was created to strengthen dual vocational education and training in Germany. It primarily supports small and medium-sized enterprises. The Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training runs the program.

The majority of the 300 state-approved vocational training occupations are taught through dual training: trainees gain practical experience in training organisations under actual working conditions and learn the theoretical knowledge required for their profession in the state vocational schools. Training ordinances provide nationwide standardised high quality standards. After two to three years, the trainees complete an examination set by a chamber, which is composed of employers’ and employees’ representatives as well as vocational school teachers.

Training is the ideal opportunity for any company to secure its required experts and position itself advantageously for the future when it comes to staff. This is particularly true for small and medium-sized companies, and even more so for small and micro companies. However, more and more small and micro companies are withdrawing from training. On the one hand, they frequently lack the resources to advertise training offers and/or to perform the training. On the other, young people are often unaware of the advantages of training in a small or micro enterprise, such as short routes to the boss or the option to assume responsibility for tasks at an early stage.

For this reason, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been utilising “JOBSTARTER” since 2006 and “JOBSTARTER plus” since 2014 to fund projects that convince micro, small and medium-sized companies in particular to participate in training and that support them with training-related topics. The objective of the programme is to secure new skilled workers, improve regional training structures and, in light of a declining rate of training companies, to preserve the training capacities and willingness of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). BMBF has funded around 600 projects to date.

Concrete offers for companies

A central component of the project funding is external training management (EXAM), which supports the companies before and during the training. In the course of external training management, JOBSTARTER plus projects advise medium-sized, small and micro companies on fundamental questions. Can I provide training at all? And if so, how? The projects make the companies aware of control instruments and, if necessary, develop individual support offers. They help businesses get started with training, increase their commitment to training, and provide training successfully. EXAM is at the heart of all JOBSTARTER plus projects and comprises support services for companies from the start of training until the final examination.

JOBSTARTER plus projects

  • Advise companies on recruiting skilled professionals
  • Support trainers with obtaining their authorisation to conduct training
  • Perform industry, career and employer marketing to increase the attractiveness of dual training
  • Support companies with initiating and completing internships
  • Help companies acquire and select candidates
  • Support companies with formalities
  • Show companies existing support services in the region
  • Offer support with the content of training
  • Act as a contact point for crisis intervention and mediation
  • Initiate and coordinate part-time training and group training
  • Develop additional qualifications and advise on implementing them

In addition, JOBSTARTER plus projects make the networks of regional actors and their offers transparent and usable for companies. The projects are also expanding the networking. Together with the regional actors, they develop strategies and concrete approaches to be able to offer services that perfectly fit the needs of the companies. The main aim here is to strengthen the companies’ commitment to training and the training quality.

Current thematic focus of the project funding

There is currently a strong need to lead the companies towards the digital transformation. The lack of qualified staff is a major obstacle here – alongside high investment requirements and demands on IT and data security. The existing staff need to receive further training. However, it is also important to adapt the methodological and didactic design of the training to allow trainees to develop the required skills.

JOBSTARTER plus projects therefore create transparency regarding the support offers available from existing regional initiatives and programmes relating to digitalisation and develop and test specific advisory services for training and further training. Some projects also develop group training as well as regional, industry-related networks.

Implementation of the programme

The JOBSTARTER plus programme is implemented in Division 4.4 “Strengthening VET” at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB). Four regional offices in the north, south, east and west of Germany support BIBB with implementing the JOBSTARTER plus programme. They perform an important bridging function between the responsible division at BIBB and the VET actors at national and regional level. The success of the programme is also founded on support from the experts of the JOBSTARTER Monitoring Committee. It consists of representatives from the umbrella organisations of the economy, trade unions, the federal states, various federal ministries, the Federal Employment Agency, and academia.

Since 2006, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been publishing funding announcements in the scope of the JOBSTARTER (2006–2013), JOBSTARTER CONNECT (2009–2014) and JOBSTARTER plus (since 2014) programmes. The funding guidelines for the individual funding announcements set different thematic priorities, each of which is adapted to the current challenges on the training market. The executing programme office selects the projects to be funded in agreement with BMBF and the Monitoring Committee.

Political background

JOBSTARTER plus is financed through funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the European Social Fund (ESF). JOBSTARTER plus was launched in 2014 in the scope of the ESF funding period 2014–2020 and thus replaced the JOBSTARTER programme that had been running since 2006. The thematic priorities for JOBSTARTER plus are derived, among other things, from the Alliance for Initial and Further Training (2015–2018), which the Federal Government sealed in December 2014 with umbrella organisations from German business, trade unions, the Federal Employment Agency and the federal states. In the JOBSTARTER plus programme, around 600 projects with a total volume of EUR 108 million have been funded in five funding rounds.

JOBSTARTER plus is organised within the context of