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The ProfilPASS System


In addition to formal assessment methods, Germany has developed supplementary methods aimed at recognition of competences acquired in non-formal and informal settings. Instruments such as the ProfilPASS (BMBF, 2008) have been developed to record individuals’ training, learning and work biographies.

Between 2002 and 2012, the German Federal Ministry of Education and the EU funded the development of ProfilPASS. In 2006, a national ProfilPASS Service Centre was set up at the German Institute for Adult Education – Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning (DIE). It offers information and service to users, educational institutions and counsellors and is responsible for quality assurance.

ProfilPASS instruments are:

  1. the ProfilPASS for adults (since 2006)[1];
  2. the ProfilPASS for young people (since 2007), intended for youth from age 13-14 upwards and valid in schools at lower secondary level[2];

ProfilPASS users are mostly people who are transitioning: job seekers, individuals keen to re-enter the labour market, immigrants, unqualified workers, people from marginalized groups, people who are endangered by unemployment, students transitioning from education to work or individuals who dropped out of education and training courses previously. In addition, entrepreneurs can use it to sourceemployees.

Procedures and processes

ProfilPASS is a developmental instrument for the documentation of competences and abilities gained in non-formal and informal settings through vocational training, voluntary work or leisure time activities. ProfilPASS is a way of empowering individuals and making them aware of their personal strengths. Its efficacy is based on the assumption that many individuals can estimate the value of their competences through critical reflection on their own lives and evaluation of their own potential. It is a formative method based on user self-assessment and supported by professional guidance on a one-on-one basis or in groups. Persons interested in using the ProfilPASS can find a counsellor either by searching on the ProfilPASS website or by contacting a local dialogue centre in their region. Usually, they pay for counselling privately, including the folder. The local employment agency (Arbeitsagentur) or other publicly funded projects geared to bring people back into employment sometimes cover course participation costs.

The ProfilPASS system embeds two interconnected elements:

  1. the ProfilPASS folder (ProfilPASS-Ordner); and
  2. professional ProfilPASS guidance supported by trained advisors (ProfilPASS-Beratung)

A. The ProfilPASS folder is a portfolio that identifies and documents an individual’s competences in a biographical and systematic manner. This process is accompanied by professional and qualified guidance. The assumption is that individuals can widen their perceptions and identify their competences objectively only with support from experts.

The ProfilPASS folder[3] is made up of four main sections:

Section 1 ‘My life – an overview’, containing individual biographies and a reflection on competences gained through experiences in school, work and life.

Section 2 ‘My activity fields – a documentation’, containing individual interests, activities and priorities.

Section 3 ‘My competences – a conclusion’, containing a competence review.

Section 4 ‘My aims and next steps’, containing goal setting, life planning and evaluation on a four-level scale (levels A, B, C1 and C2)[4].

People usually attend a consultation session on a one-to-one or group basis. In these sessions, ProfilPASS counsellors support individuals through a process of reflection to realize and specify their abilities and to set future goals.

B. Qualified ProfilPASS counsellors support the ProfilPASS process. The ProfilPASS Service Centre of the German Institute of Adult Education – Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning (DIE) coordinates advisor training at the national level. The Service Centre supports local dialogue centres and counsellors (BMBF, 2008). Counsellors can work in educational institutions or as freelancers. Nationwide ProfilPASS dialogue centres disseminate the concept and organize the process in their region. By cooperating with counsellors. they promote the prevalence of the ProfilPASS system[5].

A precondition for becoming a ProfilPASS counsellor is either a formal counselling qualification or vocational experience supplemented with further education in the field of counselling. Counsellors also need to undertake a 3-day preparatory training in the methodology of documenting competences, delivered by certified ProfilPASS multipliers. After completing the training, counsellors receive a certificate that is valid for two years. They then go through a re-certification process by documenting the practice of their counselling.

Outcomes and ways forward

More than 200,000 people have used ProfilPASS since 2006, of which half were adults (74,000) and the other half young people (89,000). More than 8,000 people are qualified counsellors (Beratende), although not all of them offer counselling with the instrument. Currently, thirty-seven ProfilPASS dialogue centres (Dialogzentren) and about thirty-six disseminators (Multiplikatoren) promote the ProfilPASS-system within their region (Schrader and Winther 2016).

In line with the EU-funded project ‘Knowing interests showing skills’, the ProfilPASS and the counsellor training curriculum has been adapted and translated into English, French, Spanish, Greek and Slovenian.[6] In Bosnia and Herzegovina it is known under the name ‘Pasoš kompetencija’.

Periodical evaluations of the system are used as a kind of monitoring system at different levels and from different perspectives such as the users, counsellors, the national service team and dialogue centres (Bosche et al. 2015).

The ProfilPASS folder can be ordered in a bookshop or through the publishing house W. Bertelsmann Verlag. In future, users can download a ProfilPASS PDF from the ProfilPASS website.


Bosche, B., and Seusing, B.  2014. Der ProfilPASS in Unternehmen: ein Leitfaden für die Praxis. http://www.die-bonn.de/doks/2014-kompetenz-01.pdf (Accessed 29 April 2016).

Bosche, B., Goeze, A. and Hülsmann, K. 2015. Beratungsspezifische Professionalitätsentwicklung. Aktuelle empirische Ergebnisse zu ProfilPASS-BeraterInnen in Deutschland und Österreich. In: Magazin erwachsenenbildung.at., 26. http://erwachsenenbildung.at/magazin/15-26/meb15-26.pdf (Accessed 29 April 2016).

CEDEFOP. 2010. European Inventory on Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning: Country report Germany. https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2011/77458.pdf

CEDEFOP. 2014. European Inventory on Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning: Country report Germany. http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2014/87053_DE.pdf (Accessed 18 January 2016).

Germany. Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung. 2008. Status of Recognition of Non-formal and Informal Learning in Germany within the Framework of the OECD Activity ‘Recognition of Informal and Non-formal Learning (RNFIL)’. Bonn.

Hülsmann, K., Kruse, N. and Seidel, S. 2015. Zwei, die sich ergänzen: ProfilPASS für junge Menschen und Berufswahlpass in der Berufsorientierung. Handreichung mit Erfahrungen und Anregungen aus der Praxis für die Praxis. Online-Erstveröffentlichung in der Sammlung texte. online. http://www.die-bonn.de/doks/2015-berufswahl-01.pdf (Accessed 18 January 2016).

ReferNet. Cedefop Thematic Analysis. 2006. Accumulating, Transferring and Validating Learning. Report on Germany.  http://www.refernet.de/media/a13_refernet_thematic-analysis_08.pdf (Accessed 18 January 2016).

Seidel, S., Hülsmann, K., Reinshagen, G., and Walgert, E. 2014. ProfilPASS für junge Menschen: Einsatz in der Schule.  http://www.die-bonn.de/doks/2014-berufsberatung-01.pdf (Accessed 29 April 2016).

Schrader, J. and Winther, E. 2016: DIE Jahresbericht 2015. http://www.die-bonn.de/docs/DIE_Jahresbericht_2015_weboptimiert.pdf


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