What is the difference between Jobcenter and Agentur für Arbeit / Arbeitsamt in Germany?

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If you are currently unemployed or looking for a new job in Germany, you should be familiar with the difference between Jobcenter and Agentur für Arbeit / Arbeitsamt and know which functions the two agencies play 

The difference between Jobcenter and Agentur für Arbeit / Arbeitsamt in Germany lies in their services. Although both agencies provide a nationwide service, the employment office deals more with compulsory benefits resulting from an existing professional activity while the Jobcenter provides basic services. Read below to get a more in-depth understanding of the differences.

difference between Jobcenter and Agentur für Arbeit

What services do the Jobcenters in Germany offer?

The Jobcenters in Germany are institutions that look after recipients of unemployment benefit II (“Hartz IV”).

The term Jobcenter refers to the joint facilities (gE) of the Federal Employment Agency (BA) and a municipal agency (e.g. a city). Through this cooperation, the job centers provide citizen-friendly services from a single source.

What services do the Jobcenters in Germany provide?

  • They guarantee the livelihood of jobseekers financially through basic security.
  • They look after the recipients of unemployment benefit II ( “Hartz IV” ) and put them in touch with potential employers.
  • They promote integration measures and professional training.
  • You support your customers with special problems, for example with addiction help, debt counseling, or psychosocial support.

The Federal Employment Agency (BA) and the municipal bodies responsible for the job centers are financially responsible for various basic security benefits:

  • The BA secures the subsistence of the recipients of Alg II (standard benefit). It pays the contributions to statutory health and nursing care insurance. It also provides funds for integration into the labor market.
  • The municipalities assume, among other things, the rent and the operating costs for housing for those in need of help. They also work with institutions that, for example, provide on-site childcare facilities.

In addition to the joint facilities, there are job centers with approved municipal providers (zkT). You are solely responsible for the basic security of jobseekers.

The legal basis for the work of the job center is the Social Security Code II. It primarily regulates the basic security for job seekers and their communities of need. Employable people can receive basic security for job seekers.

The Jobcenter gets its order from the Federal Employment Agency (BA) – and from the city

So that’s why there are job centers: They bundle the money from the Federal Employment Agency (BA) for living and the money from the municipalities for housing. The job centers get their tasks partly from the BA and partly from the municipalities. That’s why they used to be called ARGEn. That stood for working group SGB II and meant working groups of federal and local authorities. 

This division of tasks also explains why your measures are paid for by the BA and why there are no uniform upper rent limits. The BA is responsible for employment promotion and your municipality determines which rental costs it pays.

The Jobcenters in Germany are not responsible for people in need who are neither able to work nor part of a community of need. Here the support comes in the form of social assistance from the social welfare office. The legal basis for this is the Social Security Code XII.

difference between Jobcenter and Agentur für Arbeit

What services do the employment offices in Germany offer?

The former employment office is now officially called the Federal Employment Agency and is often referred to as the employment agency. The employment agency fulfills comprehensive tasks relating to the job and training market for citizens and companies. 

The most important tasks are the placement of apprenticeships and jobs, careers advice, and the promotion of vocational training. Anyone who becomes unemployed also applies to the Federal Employment Agency for unemployment benefits. To ensure that all these services work well, there is a dense network of employment agencies throughout Germany.

Employment agency gets its order from the Ministry of Labor

The Federal Employment Agency (BA) is there to implement what the ministry has decided. It is a service provider that implements things in the labor market and training market for the Ministry of Labor. For other tasks, the ministry has other institutions such as pension insurance, etc. However, the BA has a particularly long list of responsibilities, for example:

  • Mediation of training and jobs
  • career counseling
  • Vocational training and integration of people with disabilities
  • Benefits to maintain and create jobs and compensation benefits
  • Labor market and occupational research
  • Labor market observation and labor market statistics
  • Child benefit (as a family fund)

Put simply, the ministry gives the BA tasks and the BA implements them and reports to the ministry on how the situation is developing. That is the reason why the current labor market statistics always come from the employment agency and not from the job centers. The BA officially has the task of keeping these statistics.

How can the employment agency specifically help you?

Your local employment agency will advise you on all questions relating to the choice of study and career. For example, there is the Career Information Center (BIZ). Here you will get – just like in a large library that has specialized in professions – suggestions for work and training opportunities that you may not have thought of yourself. Thick folders with job information, but also computer terminals with self-assessment tests and industry dossiers help you to get an overview of the many options. 

In addition, there are “pilots” with the BIZ team in the information jungle, who help with finding and understanding. After all, information events on a wide variety of professions are held again and again in the BIZ.

Individual careers advice from the Employment Agency

The Federal Employment Agency also offers personal counseling sessions to help you on your way to work or studies. If you are still at school, there may well be consultation hours with a careers adviser. Otherwise, you can also arrange a counseling appointment on the website of the Employment Agency. Events for smaller groups or entire classes are also offered.

In such a conversation, the Federal Agency helps, for example…

  • in the orientation for the time after the end of your school or study time.
  • by answering questions about individual professions or courses of study.
  • through information about the job or training market.
  • when applying for a degree or an apprenticeship.

Help through Berufenet

The employment agency can also provide you with interesting information from home or on the go: you can use the ” Berufenet ” Internet database to find training and job descriptions for all occupations that exist in Germany. Practical: the keyword search from Berufenet. 

Just type in an industry that interests you – for example, “media” – and the computer will spit out a list of all the relevant professions. Click on a profession and you will get a comprehensive description: What entry requirements do I have to meet? How does the training work? How much can I earn there? What prospects do I have after the training? Are there similar jobs that might suit me better? The Berufenet answers these and many other questions.


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