Overview of funding opportunities for further training

Table of Contents
  • In Germany, there are more than 10 funding opportunities for further training. We’ll give you an overview of these funding opportunities for further training, explaining each step by step and their requirements.

  • For each program, we’ll show you who the program is aimed at, what requirements you need to meet and what you can get funded and how much.

  • With our tips and tricks, we’ll make sure that nothing stands in the way of your funding.

Our world and economy are in a state of flux: digital transformation, structural change and a shortage of skilled workers. If there’s one thing companies need, it’s savvy people. Existing job fields are changing. Around 25 percent of current job profiles are at risk of digitalization and the introduction of new technologies. 

Social change is reaching almost all industries and posing challenges for business. Our working world is becoming more digital every day – project management and communication tools, working-from-home initiatives, initial projects with artificial intelligence. To make yourself future-proof, you need to think about tomorrow today and get fit for the world of work 4.0. To support this goal the German government has established several funding opportunities for further training that you can apply for. 

Overview of funding opportunities for further training in Germany. These are 12 programs that you should know.

Funding opportunities for further training: Who, what and how much?

Basically, the federal and state governments in Germany will refund your costs, partially or complete, for your continuing education if you take it at a certified educational institution. Mostfunding opportunities for further training are aimed at the unemployed, employees in small and medium-sized companies, graduates or older citizens. The state has set itself the goal of improving your chances on the job marketreintegrating you into working life or preventing you from losing you job.

If you want to get more information or apply for further training, the first step is often to go to the employment office or job center. Get advice from your case worker and then approach your contact person in the personnel department if you are employed or get more information from a training provider of your choice. Just make sure that the provider is certified.

Banner for free download of the checklist "How does the education voucher application work?

If you have your eye on a certified training program, you can get reimbursed for your costs. Depending on the program you will receive/ get refunded:

  • Training costs
  • Continuation of salary
  • Reimbursement of travel expenses
  • Childcare costs
  • Accommodation and meal costs
  • Costs for the aptitude test

Grab your chance now and let the state give you with some financial support! We are happy to consult you on the topic of funding opportunities for further training and how StackFuel’s courses can help you with your career goals. Book your free consultation here.

Top 12 support programs in Germany

1 Qualification Opportunities Act (Qualifizierungschancengesetz)

The Qualification Opportunities Act is available to you if you want to make yourself fit for the world of work 4.0. The most important basic requirement is being currently employed.

It doesn’t depend on your age, qualifications or the size of your company. The qualification opportunities act is particularly aimed at you if you are employed and want to reorient or develop yourself within your company. Are you particularly affected by structural change and threatened by a job loss in the near future, or do you work in an occupation where there is a shortage of skilled workers? Then you can also benefit from the qualification opportunities act.

Depending on the size of the company, up to 100 percent of training costs and up to 75 percent of wages can be reimbursed. Since October 1, 2020, there has also been a transformation subsidy, which increases the subsidy for further training costs and wage subsidies by 5-20% for all company sizes under certain conditions. Continue reading here for more information.

For you to receive funding to continue education under the qualification opportunities act, you have to meet additional conditions. Your continuing education must take place at a certified external educational institution. The measure needs to comprise more than 120 units, i.e., teaching units of more than 45 minutes. In addition, the funding measure needs to represent a future-oriented qualification. As for you: your last further education or original training must have taken place more than four years ago. Otherwise, there is no sufficient need to update your skills.

2 Education voucher (Bildungsgutschein)

The education voucher is, as the name suggests, a written commitment where the employment agency or job center provides you with credit for a specific continuing education program. A clear advantage for you: you don’t incur any costs, and the entire measure is covered up to 100 percent.

The education voucher applies primarily to job seekers and the unemployed, but also to people who are facing unemployment. This also includes employees who want to keep their job. In the case of the latter group, it is advantageous for you that you receive continued payment of your wages during the entire training measure.

Three things are especially important for you: Your further education may only take place at a further education provider certified according to AZAV, such as StackFuel. The regional scope is especially important here. Because the employment office or job center tells you in which city or region you can redeem the voucher. Time is also of the essence. The education voucher must be redeemed within 3 months, otherwise it expires and you have to apply for it again.

Do you want more information about the education voucher? Learn more in this article on how to apply and what to know.

3 Education bonus (Bildungsprämie)

The education bonus is also a kind of voucher, but different from the education voucher. Your further education or retraining can be promoted individually or in parallel to your job if you have a low income. The goal is to strengthen your competencies and skills that you need for a current or future job role.

The education bonus is made up of two parts to partially reimburse you for your course or exam fees: the bonus voucher funds your participation in a professional development course. The savings voucher is relevant for you if you have a subsidized savings balance according to the Capital Accumulation Act.

You can apply for the bonus voucher if you are employed for at least 15 hours per week and your annual taxable income does not exceed 20,000 euros (40,000 euros for jointly taxed people). Additional plus: You can also claim a bonus voucher if you are on parental or care leave. However, please note that the bonus voucher only covers 50 percent of your training costs, up to a maximum of 500 euros. You can apply for one premium voucher per year. To do this, you need to go to a counseling center, which will then also issue you the education bonus.

4 Activation and placement voucher (Aktivierungs- und Vermittlungsgutschein)

The activation and placement voucher, abbreviated in German as AVGS, promotes individual further training measures to support your (re)entry into the job market. It can also involve three different offers:

Banner for free download of the checklist "How does the education voucher application work?

The AVGS is available for training seekers and job seekers threatened by unemployment as well as unemployed people according to SGB III §45. According to the legislator, job seekers threatened by unemployment are also university graduates, people returning to work, self-employed people and employees in transfer companies.

The AVGS is also a voucher. The prerequisite is that the measure takes place with an approved provider that you can choose yourself. If this is the case, up to 100 percent of the costs are settled directly with the employment agency or the job center. The benefit for you: there are no costs for you. Under certain circumstances, it’s even possible for you to have your travel and childcare costs covered.

Important: You will definitely need a written notice of approval, which must be issued to you before you can participate in the respective measure. Make an appointment with your personal advisor at the employment agency or job center. If you meet the requirements, they will issue the voucher.

Note: The AVGS can be limited in time and region – similar to the education voucher. On the one hand, this is to ensure that you acquire your new skills promptly and to avoid long journeys or additional costs.

5 Zukunftsstarter

The Zukunftsstarter program supports measures to prepare you for a approved vocational qualification. These include courses to prepare for the external examination or to acquire partial qualifications or basic skills.

The program is aimed at young adults aged 25 and over:

  • Low-skilled job seekers or employed people without a vocational school diploma

  • Low-skilled people who have not been working in a semi-skilled or unskilled job or in their main profession for at least four years
  • People returning to work and those re-entering the workforce

There are numerous possibilities for you. Basically, the costs for further education or retraining will be covered. In addition, travel and childcare costs, accommodation and living costs are also subsidized. If your measure is part-time, your company can receive a wage subsidy for the training-related downtime and a lump sum for social security contributions.

6 Aufstiegs-BAföG

The Aufstiegs-BAföG, formerly the Meister-BAföG, is jointly financed by the federal and state governments and is a combination of grant and loan under the Upgrading Training Assistance Act (AFBG).

The program supports vocational upskilling training in the non-academic sector. This includes master craftsman coursesspecialist or technician training or other preparatory courses with a comparable qualification.

You will receive funding if you take part in a course that prepares you for an advanced vocational training exam on a full or part-time basis. This course can also take place directly at a university of applied sciences.

Good to know: There is no age limit. Even if you dropped out of your studies or are a high school graduate without having completed your initial course, you can still receive advanced training through the AFBG if you can demonstrate sufficient professional experience. If you already have a bachelor’s degree or a comparable university degree, you can also apply for AFBG funding.

In addition, you are also eligible as a foreigner if you have your permanent residence in Germany, have certain residence titles or a permanent residence permit and you have been living legally in Germany for at least 15 months and are gainfully employed. This also includes vocational training.

Regardless of your income and assets, you can receive the full amount up to a maximum of 15,000 euros to finance your course and examination fees. You will receive 40 percent as a grant and the remaining amount as a low-interest bank loan from the KfW (Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau).

Tip: If you submit an application, you can have 40% of the loan amount reimbursed if you pass the exam. If your sponsorship is a full-time measure, you can also receive a contribution toward living expenses.

7 Retraining bonus (continuing education bonus) (Umschulungsprämie)

Would you like to do further training to help you successfully complete your apprenticeship? Under certain conditions, you can receive a retraining or continuing education bonus.

Participants in an apprenticeship that began after 01.08.2016 and is set for a training period of at least two years can receive funding for further training if it leads to the completion of the apprenticeship. If you have successfully taken or passed the intermediate or final examination before a chamber, for example the Chamber of Industry and Commerce or Chamber of Crafts, as part of your retraining or training, you can receive a bonus of 1,000 or 1,500 euros. To do this, you have to prove that you have successfully passed the exam to the Federal Employment Agency or your job center, for example, with a copy of your certificate.

Important: Unfortunately, examinations at other educational institutions can’t be awarded.

8 Further education scholarship (Weiterbildungsstipendium)

If you would like to gain further professional qualifications after successfully completing your vocational training, you can receive support from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

The further education scholarship supports professional, in-service qualifications and further education, even in-service studies can be supported under certain circumstances. The scholarship requirements are a completed vocational training course and an age limit of 24 years.

In addition, at the time of your application you must either be employed with a weekly working time of at least 15 hours a week or be registered with the employment agency as a job seeker. If this is the case, in addition to the further education grant, subsidies can also be paid for your travel costs, accommodation costs, work equipment or examination costs.

9 Rehabilitation grant (Rehabilitanden-Förderung)

Do you have a disability or are you returning to work after a long illness? Then your further training can be subsidized under certain conditions by the rehabilitation grant.

If you can no longer practice your main profession, for example, due to occupational disability or illness, your integration into the labor market is supported by the statutory pension insurance, the statutory accident insurance or the employment agency. In most cases, the costs for further training and retraining are covered in full. The prerequisite for receiving this funding is a qualified consultation with the responsible institution, which will evaluate your case individually and coordinate the next steps with you.

10 Digital now – investment support for SMEs (Digital jetzt – Investitionsförderung für KMU)

Expertise in digital technologies determines how competitive and future-proof companies are. To enable SMEs to successfully exploit the potential of digitalization, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is supporting small and medium-sized enterprises with the “Digital jetzt – Investitionsförderung für KMU” program, among other things for the qualification of their employees.

Before the start of your company’s training measure, your company must submit an application for subsidies to the BMWi or the project management organization commissioned by it. The application must describe the digitalization project and explain the type and number of training measures. As an individual company, you can then receive a maximum grant of 55,000 euros, and as an applicant in a value chain, a maximum grant of 100,000 euros.

Important: Your company must be able to prove that it has a permanent establishment in Germany in order to receive the grant.

11 Tax subsidies

You haven’t found the right funding opportunity yet? Regardless of support programs through the Employment Agency or initiatives by ministries, all employees can deduct the costs of further training from their taxes.

Further education and retraining are considered an investment in your professional future. If these measures are necessary to secure your job against unemployment, the costs can be deducted as income-related expenses. Participation fees, learning materials or even travel expenses are recognized. If the measures are directly related to your job, the costs are usually taken into account in full. Otherwise, you can deduct income-related expenses as a proportion.

12 Funding through state and federal programs

In order to improve employability or create jobs, further training measures for skill development in your company can be funded by other state or federal programs. However, measures for individual professional development, for example to improve the skill profile or secure a job, can also be subsidized through programs like these.

The nature and design of these programs vary from state to state. However, the prerequisite for taking advantage of the subsidy in each case is a primary residence in the respective federal state. An overview of available federal and state subsidy programs can be found in the subsidy database of the BMWi.

Free training & funding consultation

StackFuel is happy to provide you with free, non-binding advice on your funding options for professional development. StackFuel is certified according to AZAV and has several offers for you to expand your skills in the areas of digitalization, data science and artificial intelligence.

Seize the opportunity now and arrange a free consultation with us.


Julia Kazubek
Julia Kazubek
Julia is Director of Marketing at StackFuel. Lifelong learning is part of her everyday business in marketing. True to her motto "Knowing how to live life", she devours technical literature on growth hacking, leadership and marketing in her free time or takes advantage of one of the many cultural offerings in her hometown of Berlin.

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