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Employee development made easy!

Kinga Bartczak

Education voucher – Education premium – Educational leave

If you want to survive in today’s “war of talents” as a small or medium-sized company, you have to reach deep into the bag of tricks of employee development. In this context, the possibility of further education is not only an issue with the emerging awareness of the so-called “Generation Y”. Nowadays, the salary is still crucial for many employees, but the possibility to continuously develop within one’s professional position is becoming increasingly important. Since not every company has a lavish budget for further training measures, I would like to present three funding options to you in the following, with which you can train your employees in a targeted manner and move your company forward.

Please take into account that any information is without guarantee. Regional peculiarities as well as individual and personal circumstances can lead to different assessment bases, which is why blanket statements are generally excluded.

1. education check North Rhine-Westphalia

Since 2006, the Ministry of Labor, Integration and Social Affairs of North Rhine-Westphalia (MAIS) has been promoting the further training of employees from small and medium-sized enterprises with the so-called “Bildungsscheck” funding program. The focus here is on unskilled and semi-skilled workers, employees without vocational qualifications and those returning to work who are not supported by the Federal Employment Agency. The Bildungsscheck NRW is financed by the European Social Fund (ESF; 50%) as well as by state funds (50%) and is divided into an individual and a company support measure.

The individual education voucher

In principle, employees and those returning to work (including those on parental leave), unskilled and semi-skilled employees, employees without a vocational qualification, older employees aged 50 and over, employed immigrants, temporary employees and part-time employees are eligible for funding, taking into account that a taxable income of max. 30.000,- EUR in case of single assessment (joint assessment max. 60.000,- EUR) may not be exceeded. With the exception of self-employed persons, salaried (co-)owners and employees in the public sector, the education voucher is guaranteed across all sectors, whereby the size of the company may not exceed 249 employees. The education voucher covers about 50% of the course costs, with a maximum of 500 euros. Moreover, it can be issued individually within a period of 2 years.

The company education voucher

In the case of the company training voucher, the group of people eligible for support is limited exclusively to employees. Again, the self-employed, salaried (co-)owners and public sector employees are excluded from receiving the education voucher. As with the individual education voucher, the company size is max. 249 employees, whereby here the employer is free to apply for up to ten education vouchers for its employees within 2 calendar years. The company education voucher also covers approx. 50% of the course costs, whereby the maximum amount in this case is also limited to max. 500 euros limited. To apply for the education voucher, a personal interview at a local counseling center is required in advance, as it is only issued for a limited period of time.

The application requirements may vary here from time to time. Often, they will ask for ID, income tax assessment, the company’s business number, and two different comparative quotes for the course to be funded and a course description (content, prerequisites, duration).


2. the federal education premium program

If you have taken advantage of an education voucher and are interested in another funding opportunity in the same calendar year, you have the option of applying for the so-called education bonus. Since 2008, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has been supporting employees with continuing professional development through the education premium. The target group is primarily employees and the self-employed who have not been able to afford further training to date. To apply for the education premium, you arrange a counseling interview in advance at an education premium counseling center near you and usually receive the premium voucher directly after the interview. The education premium basically consists of the premium voucher and the continuing education savings (savings voucher) and can be applied for every two calendar years.

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  • The premium voucher can amount to up to 500 euros, whereby the event fee may not exceed 1000 euros (incl. examination costs). In principle, employees (including those on maternity or parental leave), self-employed persons / start-ups, employees or self-employed persons who receive supplementary benefits under SGB II can apply for the premium voucher. Prerequisites are a weekly working time of at least 15 hours, the minimum age of 25 years and no exceeding of the annual taxable income of 20,000 euros (or 40,000 euros for jointly assessed persons).
  • With the continuing education savings program, you have the opportunity to use the employee savings allowance for your continuing education, regardless of your annual income. Here you can withdraw the saved credit from your account without losing the employee savings allowance. All those who have a subsidized savings account in accordance with the German Capital Accumulation Act (Vermögensbildungsgesetz, VermBG) can use the continuing education savings program. After the voucher has been handed over to you, you can discuss all further details of the financing with your financial service provider(building society, bank or insurance company).
  • If you are considering applying for the education premium, I would recommend combining the premium voucher with the savings v oucher. Thus, the former allows you to pay the event fee, while the continuing education savings allows you to pay all other costs.

3. employee promotion with the NRW educational leave

An educational leave is a subsidized measure in which the employee is released by his employer for the purpose of further education. In this case, the employee’s salary continues to be paid in full, with the employee bearing the costs of the further training measure.

As of a company size of 10 employees, an entitlement to educational leave can generally be examined. In this case, the claimant must have worked in the company as an employee for at least six months and has a maximum entitlement of up to five days per calendar year. The prerequisite for the recognition of an educational leave is the existence of the educational institution for at least one year. 2 years, as well as proof of a seal of approval recognized by the Ministry.

Basically, it must be taken into account that each federal state has its own “Law on the release of employees for the purpose of professional and political further education – Employee Further Education Act (AWbG for short)”. Whether a claim exists and what rights as well as obligations both employer and employee have can be read in this law(example NRW). Furthermore, in addition to a detailed guide to educational leave, there is also the possibility of obtaining information by telephone via the service centers of the individual state governments as well as in person.

Not received enough information yet?

In next week’s second part of my employee development and continuing education series, you’ll learn how you can promote your employees in the skilled trades sector, what benefits the education voucher offers you, and what development loans and scholarship opportunities are available for students, for example.

About the author

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Kinga Bartczak advises, coaches and writes on female empowerment, new work culture, organizational development, systemic coaching and personal branding. She is also the managing director of UnternehmerRebellen GmbH and publisher of the FemalExperts magazine .

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