Workers in Germany will soon be able to take one-year funded educational leave

Workers in Germany will soon be able to take one-year funded educational leave

Germany’s labour minister has announced that the country will dramatically expand its policy whereby workers in Germany can take Jobcentre-funded leave to study.

Labour minister announces educational leave expansion

Germany’s labour minister Hubertus Heil has announced that the country will follow in the footsteps of Austria and expand its policy on workers being able to take funded leave from their jobs in order to study.

Currently, in 14 of Germany’s 16 federal states, workers are entitled to a period of between five and 10 days per calendar year, which they can take off work and use to attend educational courses. Apart from Saxony and Bavaria, where the policy is not in place, most of Germany’s population have the opportunity to take the paid leave, though only 2 percent choose to do so.

By expanding the policy to all states, the SPD hopes to make educational leave seem more attractive. What's more, under Heil’s new policy, which is set to be implemented in the coming weeks as part of the Continuing Education Act, the available leave period will be extended to one year.

Workers in Germany will be able to take one year educational leave

In Austria, once it has been agreed with their employers, workers are permitted to take a year off work in order to complete an educational course. “This can also be organised as part-time study over the course of two years,” Heil added, speaking to the dpa.

In Germany the scheme will be funded at the same rate as unemployment benefits, meaning that studying employees will receive 60 percent of their standard income, and 67 percent if they have a child

According to Heil the broader Continuing Education Act, which will also include expanding funding for apprenticeships and internships, will cost the German government 771 million euros between 2023 and 2026. This investment is expected to be offset by tax revenues created by additional employment. 

Educational leave could help alleviate German worker shortage

The hope is that the new policy will help plug Germany’s present and looming worker shortage. “Many companies are desperate for workers and skilled workers,” Heil said. Already short of skilled workers, Germany is currently biting its nails as baby boomers reach retirement age, with officials trying to figure out how to reckon with what could soon become an even greater shortage of working-age people. 

Heil sees the SPD policy as an opportunity to turn this around, which will start by giving more options to the 45.000 Germans who leave school without a diploma each year. “Deutschland braucht nicht nur Master, sondern auch Meister” (“Germany doesn’t just need Masters graduates, but also craftspeople”), Heil added, punning on the English and German-language term for postgraduate study.

Thumb image credit: Nina Unruh /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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