Germany announces new labour force integration initiatives for foreign students and graduates.

In a joint announcement with Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has launched a pair of new initiatives designed to boost the retention of foreign graduates of German universities and to attract foreign degree holders to live and work in Germany.

The first programme is called FIT – or the “Promotion of International Talent for Integration into Studies and the Labour Market” programme. Beginning in spring 2024, it will fund up to 70 projects at German universities designed to provide additional career supports for foreign students at “various phases of their studies”. Eligible universities must apply for funding, which the programme will provide up to a limit of €1 million per project through 2028, for initiatives in the following areas:

  • Measures to prepare international students to study in Germany
  • Measures to ensure the academic success of international students
  • Measures to increase the employability of international students in the German labour market
  • Career transition supports for international students

Commenting on the announcement, Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger said, “For a large number of international students, the good prospects of remaining in Germany later in their careers has already been a key factor in deciding in favour of Germany as a place to study in the past. With the [the new transition support initiatives], we want to provide international students with tailored support during their studies and in their transition to the German labour market. After all, we urgently need more bright minds and hard-working hands for growth and prosperity in our country.”

Alongside those student-facing supports, DAAD and the Ministry of Education and Research have also launched Profi plus, or the “Academic Adaptation Qualification for the German Labour Market” programme. It is aimed at foreign graduates holding degrees from institutions outside of Germany and is designed to help those graduates “in adapting their qualifications to the requirements of the German labour market.” As with the FIT programme, universities must apply for Profi Plus funding, which will support up to 25 projects with funding of up to €700,000 each through 2028. Also in parallel with FIT, Profi plus will support new services designed to ease the transition to work in Germany and to boost the employability of foreign degree holders.

DAAD President Dr Joybrato Mukherjee added, “German universities are demonstrably highly attractive beacons for the immigration of skilled labour from all over the world. With this initiative, we are expanding the opportunities for our member universities to qualify and support international talent during their studies, at graduation and during their transition into the German labour market. In this way, we are strengthening the integration of international students at universities and in our society. At the same time, we ensure that young people from all over the world have better career opportunities in Germany after successfully completing their studies and contribute to alleviating the shortage of skilled workers.”

Germany is indeed an increasingly popular study destination, with foreign enrolment reaching a new record level for 2022/23 and with nearly 370,000 international students enrolled in German higher education during that academic year.

The new programmes follow close on the heels of a DAAD white paper from earlier this year which called for expanded career transition supports for foreign students. “In Germany, we have been heading towards an ever-increasing gap in skilled workers on the labour market for several years. At the same time, the Federal Republic is becoming increasingly popular as a place to study,” Dr Mukherjee said at the time. “We need to think about both developments together and show international students more effectively and in greater numbers the path to a professional career in Germany. They are highly qualified and well-integrated, and we should make more strategic use of their exciting potential as skilled workers in Germany.”

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