The German Employment Agency, called the Agent für Arbeit, may support foreigners in Germany to find a job through the employment instrument of the AVGS.

It’s just an abbreviation, the AVGS. It stands for „Aktivierungs- und Vermittlungsgutschein“. Ultimately, it’s a piece of paper, a voucher that you can redeem e.g. at MyJobGermany. It covers up to 100% of the cost of the 1:1-Career Program „ALIGN“ without having to pay for it yourself. And this is possible, even though you have not yet worked in Germany. Does that sound too good to be true? 💐

Well, let’s be honest. It’s much more of a painless process if you find a job quickly on your own!

Please don’t even get the idea, that the Employment Agency is some kind of a ‚charity organization‘ that generously wants to or can solve everyone’s job problems.😁 No, for sure it’s not. However, there are circumstances in which the Employment Agency can give you a financial jump start.

In this article I explain:

I recorded a podcast episode on the topic of AVGS and the Career Guiding Program 1:1, which you‘ re welcome to listen to:

About AVGS and Agentur für Arbeit

The activation and placement voucher (AVGS), known colloquially as the AVGS voucher, is a document issued by the Agentur für Arbeit, the German employment agency and the municipal job center. It’s intended to enable job seekers and people threatened by unemployment to (re)enter working life.

Topic #1: Support of the Agentur für Arbeit for the unemployed

The Employment Agency is a federal institution. It is financed mainly by an insurance model: Employees pay a certain monthly contribution from their wages („unemployment contribution“) and if they ever became unemployed they would receive both financial and counseling support.

Usually, the Employment Agency deals with people who have lost their jobs. For unemployed people, it pays financial unemployment benefits for up to 12 months to help them pay their rent and living expenses.
In addition, the Employment Agency provides counseling. This is done by the so-called employment agents („Arbeitsvermittler“) or personal contact persons („persönliche Ansprechpartner“), as they’re called.

These representatives suggest suitable vacancies and offer advice on the best and quickest way to find a job again. One Arbeitsvermittler, as I’ve heard, may have up to 300 unemployed unemployed persons to manage. Also, they may decide that unemployed persons who have not completed any training or who have given little thought to their further qualifications over the years may (or have to) take part in further qualifications to enhance their job fitness.

There are only 12 months left to find a job. If this does not succeed, then the unemployed person must see how he/she earns his/her living somehow. In any case, the unemployment benefit ends after this period of one year.

Topic #2: Support for people seeking work

Anyone is free to do whatever he or she wants, it’s up to the individual to have a job, don’t have a job, or look for one – in principle, this is nobody’s business. Especially not an official authority.

But, if a person wants advice on how to best find a job, the Agentur für Arbeit is a go-to.

Nobody living in Germany is excluded from this right.

If you have not worked in Germany before and decide to ask the agency for advice, you must register as a job seeker. The official term, or label, is „arbeitssuchend“.

Topic #4: The job role of a „Persönlicher Ansprechpartner“

If you register at the employment agency you’ll be assigned to a fixed representative, the Arbeitsvermittler or Persönlicher Ansprechpartner. Let’s take a practical look at what an Arbeitsvermittler needs to consider at work.

Obviously, the goal of an Arbeitsvermittler is to get his unemployed customers into a decent jobs within 12 months.

The Arbeitsvermittler have a certain, defined budget they can spend on promotion or supporting services to their customers. So he has to decide to use his budget in the best way. Therefore, he might recommend further training to low-skilled people, because this will significantly increase their employability. But the skilled ones, he might feel it’s sufficient to give them some advice.

Next, he would think about how to support his customers who seek a job but do not get financial transfers. Again, the intensity with which he takes care of this type of customer depends on how much working time is left and what budget he still has. Or what priority management has given to certain types of job seekers.

Topic #5: Customer Target Group: Spouses and Moms/Dads

One target group that is very strongly promoted is women after the family phase. Most often in Germany, the women take care of the children, while the fathers continue in their jobs. Most often women quit their job after giving birth to a baby, or they decide not to return to their previous employer.

It is politically desirable to support wives and moms in particular in re-entering the labor market after the baby and family phase.

Sadly, this isn’t so much a sign of the advancement of women or even equal rights. No way! It’s simply due to the fact that we have too few well-trained experts in the job market. That’s the only reason, to be honest.

Well, let’s look at the bright side: Women and moms are a focus group that every Arbeitsvermittler will pay extra attentive consideration to.

For instance, this could be the coverage of costs for a refresher or extension of her professional qualifications, if she’s low qualified. Or, if she’s qualified but has diffiulties in finding a job on her own, an individual 1:1 job coaching. This would give the woman the opportunity to find her way back into work, given her lack of flexibility in terms of time and space.

First-hand report from Rinara (Trailing Spouse)

My husband has a blue card. But, what about me?

My husband was at the office all day and I was off. When I was brand new in Germany, I walked around the city all day by myself, bored and looking at all the places. Then I started a language course. One day I bumped into a neighbor who recommended that I take a job coaching program with Nicola. That’s how I heard about the AVGS. Nicola introduced me to a lot of things and made me re-position myself professionally. Today I work in marketing in an IT company and speak German all day. I got the contact through Nicola. By now I really enjoy my life in Germany.
Rinara (31 years, 2020)

AVGS to obtain „Job Coaching“

The average Arbeitsvermittler of the Agentur für Arbeit has a large number of customers, from 100 or 300 persons, and she or he has to take care of, coordinate and manage their status.

If the Arbeitsvermittler feels that a special consultant is needed for one of the customers, he may assign a consultant or service provider to attend to his customer and provide job coaching services.

The billing for such an outsourced service is settled via the AVGS. Now, if you imagine that your employment agency pays a job coach in bills and coins, it’s not like that. The AVGS is simply a sheet of paper. Or in other words, it’s a voucher that you can use to cash in your winnings.

AVGS is a optional service („Kann-Leistung“)

For people looking work, there is no legal entitlement to intensive support by the Arbeitsvermittler or Contact Persons at the Agentur für Arbeit. I’d say, that if things go badly, you may be limited to an informational phone call about where to find job offers 😳.

But, it can also go very well. 👌 If the Arbeitsvermittler comes to the conclusion that a person needs intensive support, or that it makes sense to support this person, or even that an financial investment in this person by AVGS is necessary, important, or justified.

I’m sorry to be so vague about this!

However, to my knowledge, it is indeed that vague.

Not every international person who moves to Germany will receive intense support. In the case of Rinara, a former client of mine, it was different. Because, she was already living in Germany, she was with her husband, who had been send from his Indian empoyer to that German client company.

Basically, the AVGS is an optional benefit („Kann-Leistung“ in German). In other words, the employment agency may or may not decide to grant an AVGS. In Rinaras case, her Arbeitsvermittler wanted to support her and he understood how difficult it was for her to find her own way in the job market as she had no knowledge about how to align to the German job seeking procedures. But again, she had very good arguments to win the Arbeitsvermittler over.

AVGS Beneficial Factors for Approval

Since 2014, when I started working intensively with international professionals, I have worked with very many clients. Many of them have received an AVGS, even if they have not yet worked in Germany.

As I pointed out above, there is no legal entitlement to an AVGS. 😥

Accordingly, there is no official list of criteria that are legally valid. 😥

It is much more up to each personal contact person („Persönlicher Ansprachpartner“) at the Agentur für Arbeit to evaluate the circumstances and come up with a decision. Last but not least, it is also a matter of approving investment in the person seeking advice. This has to be very well-grounded.

But there’s hope 😄 For sure ⭐️

From my professional experience, I have learned that more often people receive a voucher for professional coaching 🎉 who meet one or more of the following criteria 🎉:

AVGS for ALIGN, the new Career Guiding Program (1:1)

The more of the above mentioned criteria apply to you, the more likely you are to be approved for an AVGS.

If you want to learn more about whether you are suitable for the ALIGN Career Guiding Program of MyJob Germany with Nicola, how the collaboration will take place, and what results you will achieve, please schedule a free consultation with me, Nicola. I’m happy to give you all the details and will explore if the program is a good fit your you. Please select a convenient date and time:

Benefits and Content of the ALIGN – Program

ALIGN is a Guiding Program that is tailored for individuals. It contains 4 core modules, each of them has quite a few guiding sessions. Taking part provides you with an orientation and understanding of how the German job market works. You’ll learn how you fit into the broad picture and how you need to communicate your strengths, your qualifications and how you may benefit an employer.

Often, my clients have found a job at the end of the Program. It may take 2 or 3 months, with 2 or 3 online sessions each work.

My former client Rinara from above realized that she needed to upskill to meet the requirements of employers. Once she made up her mind what her professional life should look like in 5 years, I could match her with a marketing lead of an IT company. She started with a part-time job and was soon offered a full-time position.

Topics of the 4 core modules of ALIGN

The One-to-One Guiding Program ALIGN offers a tailored approach to exploring the job market, and creating application papers in the German language or English language. We support in analyzing job offers, applying to companies, and preparing winning employers in the interview. On top of it, we practice the German language you need for the daily job and legal issues you need to know. Please schedule a call with me, so we can find out if the program is a good fit for you.

Take a glimpse of what we’ll cover in the sessions:

Self-marketing approach, positioning of the participant, creation of market-oriented application documents, and a short profile. We’ll create winning application papers, CV, and cover letters and explore your competencies and how to transfer them to the German markets.

We search and identify possible employers or industries, examine your opportunities and requirements for possible job profiles. We search for jobs, create a strategy for approaching companies and test the approach. We’ll check your social media profiles and make sure, that everything fits into the overall story of yours.

Together, we finalize applications depending on which strategy is in focus. Direct search, the hidden job market, or direct approach to employers. You practice interviews and gain routine in your self-presentation.

Deepening of language skills, motivation for independent further language acquisition, technical language, Language comprehension, behavioral security during the probationary period.

AVGS, which Germans benefit from it

Unemployment is currently very low in Germany. In March 2022 the germanywide unemployment rate is at 5,3 percent, in spite of the Corona situation.

So the question is, what kind of people are jobless and are often supported in their job search with an AVGS for activation and placement by a consultancy?

Let’s take a look at who in Germany has the greatest risk of becoming unemployed. In purely statistical terms, these are people who have no vocational training or have not developed in their careers over many years, or have special needs regarding working time, health, or other personal aspects. Another aspect that grows the risk of unemployment is when you’re stuck in a region and town due to personal reasons. The imbalance between regions within Germany can be significant.

But it’s a sad fact, that German employers have a tendency to be very picky. They shy away from people they feel are somehow not reliable, not qualified or don’t fit their company. This leads to a phenomenon in Germany which is called „Langzeitarbeitslosigkeit“ (long term unemployment), which refers to persons being longer on the job search than 12 months. They face extremly huge difficulties in finding a job, although it’s proven by statistics that they try very hard to find a new job opportunity.

When I was still woking at my old employer, a long time before I would start my own venture specializing with MyJobGermany, I led a team of consultants. We had cases like this, most of them have been looking for a job for longer than 12 months.

People who are „langzeitarbeitslos“ don’t get financial support from the Agentur für Arbeit anymore. They are shifted to the municipal job centers that ensure for only the lowest minimum subsistence of the person is provided.

AVGS, how qualified is the average ‚Job Coach‘?

For many years, working for my previous employer, I had a team of 10 consultants. When I was in search of a new employee, with management, I looked to identify those capable of working with the above target group of people.

The task of a JobCoach is to work with clients. No experience in consulting companies, concept or project management, or recruiting is a must. Often, I, and management, sought out career changers who were good at working with people, were empathetic, and could work according to the concept. Academic training was not mandatory; many had backgrounds in social pedagogy with a focus on social work.

This worked very well for most of our clients: we held regular case discussions, brainstormed strategies to help the clients to find a job, reviewed application papers, and hold mock interviews. As a senior manager, my colleagues handed me the cases they found difficult. Later, after that, I turned my focus to foreign academics. Eventually, I quit to focus solely on global professionals seeking a job and life in Germany.

MyJobGermany is specialized on guiding Internationals

In my work with international academics, I have found that it is not so much the qualifications that are the sticking point, but the self-marketing, the creation of winning profiles and application packages as well as a story to tell the German employer as well as scaling the applications.

I’m just telling you all this stuff about the German labour market system to help you understand our system and how you may fit in. My guess is, you’ve already experienced how difficult it can be to get positive feedback from German employers. Or maybe how it’s like to be lost in all the information what to do and what not do do to make a career in Germany.

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