Who will pay for my retraining?


Who will fund my retraining? This is one of the primary questions that future retrainees will ask themselves. Few people can afford the monthly cost out of their own pocket. The good news is that there are at least 6 government agencies that could potentially be the right contact for your funded career transition. Financial benefits such as transitional allowances and subsidies differ in amount, sometimes considerably, so it makes a difference who pays for your retraining.

Below, you'll learn under what circumstances each payer may be responsible for you, the consequences of choosing the "wrong" one, and two possible alternatives to government funding.

Where to apply for subsidized retraining?

Most people think of the employment agency and the pension insurance when it comes to financed retraining. However, there are several possibilities. The responsibility can be duplicated, but then one service provider has a special responsibility.

These agencies will cover the cost of retraining:

  • The pension insurance
  • The professional associations
  • The statutory accident insurance (DGUV)
  • The employment agency
  • The vocational promotion service of the German Federal Armed Forces (BFD)
  • The Jobcenter/ the ARGE
  • The employer
  • Or you can finance the retraining yourself.

Below you will find detailed information on all these funding agencies and how you can get retraining financed by them. Important: If you have applied to the incompetent body, then this has no disadvantages for you. Unfortunately, however, you cannot rely on applications being forwarded between the job center and the employment agency, for example. Therefore, if you are in doubt, take action yourself and apply again.

When does the pension insurance pay for the costs?

The pension fund (DRV) will pay for a change of profession if you can no longer work in your profession for health reasons and have been paying contributions for at least 15 years. There may be exceptions, but this is the principle. For a subsidy, it makes no difference whether the retraining is required because of physical illness or for psychological reasons. The health problems must be so severe that it is close to an occupational disability or would lead to it in the foreseeable future. The pension insurance is not responsible, if also a financing over the accident insurance or a professional association can come into consideration. Can I get a retraining financed by the pension insurance?

When does the statutory accident insurance cover the costs of retraining??

A subsidized retraining through the (German) Statutory Accident Insurance (DGUV) is possible for you if the change of occupation is necessary due to an accident at work or an occupational disease. Whether the accident insurance pays for the retraining does not require that you are a member of this insurance company. The contributions are only paid by the employer.

This also includes impairments caused by a commuting accident to and from the workplace. It is often unclear what kind of occupational disease must be present, i.E. Do I already get paid for retraining because I have back pain at work?? In the case of unfortunately common ailments, such as back problems, cardiovascular diseases etc. There is almost never an occupational disease according to § 9 SGB VII. However, there is a chance that the pension insurance or the employment office will pay for the occupational support measure.

Who gets paid by the employers' liability insurance association for the change of occupation?

The professional associations are responsible for financing your retraining under the same conditions as the statutory accident insurance and additionally require that you belong to an occupational group with a professional association. So for example frequently the case with handicraft occupations. The same applies here as in the above explanations on occupational diseases. When do I receive payment for retraining from the employers' liability insurance association??

Who does the employment office finance retraining for??

The employment agency will bear the costs of retraining via an education voucher if you meet the following criteria:

  • You have been unemployed for less than a year, you are looking for work or you will soon lose your job in an occupation that is no longer in demand.
  • You are entitled to ALG1 benefits.
  • If the retraining is to be financed because of illness or health problems, then the pension insurance, professional association or accident insurance must not be primarily responsible for you.

Unfortunately, the subsidies of the employment agency are limited to training occupations. As a rule, it is not possible, for example, to have a course of study paid for by means of an education voucher. This is the case even if it is a former apprenticeship profession that can now be learned mainly at a university (for example, midwife or speech therapist). Retraining through the employment agency (2021)

Who does the BFD support with a vocational retraining measure??

Retraining through the Bundeswehr Vocational Training Service (BFD) is only possible for members of the armed forces. This is a parallel system of vocational promotion and integration of members of the armed forces in the civilian labor market.

When will the job center finance retraining for me??

If none of the agencies mentioned so far will pay for your retraining, then the Jobcenter is your point of contact. The job center has a kind of catch-all function here. For funding you must be entitled to Hartz4 benefits. Retraining can be considered if your vocational training no longer meets the current requirements of the labor market. Here you can find more information about the possibility of a subsidized retraining through the Jobcenter/ ARGE (2021).

Can my employer support me through a company retraining program??

It is always conceivable to have the retraining financed by the employer. There are very different constellations. This is how an employer can decide to hire an applicant who is not yet a good fit, but whose other qualities make him or her fully convincing. However, since a required qualification is missing, the employer pays for retraining. This usually takes place on a part-time basis, i.E. With direct involvement in practical business processes and, for example, theory lessons at evening school.

Another option would be to finance retraining for an existing employee who wants to change to another profession and whose existing industry knowledge can thus be retained for the company. In fact, employees only have to bear part of the costs of retraining, because the employment agency offers to contribute to the costs under certain conditions.

How to finance a retraining without employment office or job center?

There is also the possibility that you pay for your retraining yourself and do not depend on a state subsidy. This is a very challenging project, but one that will be worthwhile for you and will greatly increase your confidence in your own strengths. In addition to the training salary, you can apply for a housing allowance as a rent subsidy, apply for subsidy programs or use an educational loan to cover the costs (especially living expenses). We have a comprehensive article here for you on how you can reorient yourself professionally independently of an education voucher: Self-finance retraining without an education voucher (2021)

What happens if I apply to a body that is not responsible for my retraining??

Even if you do not yet know for sure who will pay for your retraining, you can still do no wrong. If you mistakenly wanted to receive funding for retraining through the pension insurance, for example, but do not meet the requirements there, then applying to the wrong funding agency is not disadvantageous for you. There are only different consequences depending on whether you have already applied for retraining. As a rule, the application is either rejected or even forwarded from the incompetent authority to the competent authority. This is the rule in the relationship between the employment agency and the job center, as well as between pension insurance and accident insurance and the employers' liability insurance association.

Nevertheless, you should not rely on the fact that the individual agencies will act in your sense despite lack of competence and, in case of doubt, make another application to the responsible cost unit.

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