Dual vocational education and training (VET) plays a major role in Austria. To maintain the attractiveness of this education pathway both for companies and for young people, training contents need to keep pace with the requirements of the economy. This demands that the training ordinances and curricula of part-time vocational schools are revised regularly. The 2017 apprenticeship occupation package (Lehrberufspaket), comprises eight modernised apprenticeships, focusing also on setting up a new framework for digitisation.
Support for young people to gain advanced qualifications (beyond compulsory schooling) has been a key objective of the Austrian youth-related policy agenda since end of the 1990s, starting with the introduction of supra-company apprenticeship training. In mid-2016 the Training up to the age of 18 schemes was adopted, marking a major development.
The Austrian master craftsperson qualification is an important higher VET qualification, with objectives of specialist competence, company management and apprenticeship training. A survey of graduates shows that these objectives are indeed achieved in business.
High youth unemployment rates, skilled labour shortage, skills mismatches, and difficulties in the transition from education to the labour market have all raised interest in dual VET programmes (), both at European and Member State levels.
() Dual training is characterised by alternating school-based and company-based training stages.
From the school year 2015/16, all colleges of higher vocational education (BHS, five-year vocational pathway at the upper secondary level) in Austria have been using a new form of the matriculation and diploma exam (Reife- und Diplomprüfung) (). This new form has its legal basis in the 2010 amendment to the School Education Act and in the 2015 amendment to the examination regulation.
() Double qualification for senior positions in business and general access to higher education at the same time.
The federal act (NQR-Gesetz) on the national qualifications framework (NQF) entered into force on 15 March 2016 and officially established the NQF in Austria. It also marked the end of an extended development process on defining the key points of the NQF, involving a wide range of stakeholder groups. The NQF law now provides a clear basis for allocating qualifications.
For several years, European institutions have stressed the importance of vocational education and training (VET) for the employability of (young) people, for economic competitiveness and growth, and for broader social challenges, in particular social cohesion.
The Austrian apprenticeship training system is seen as IVET provision that meets the requirements of the labour market and aids smooth transition from training to employment. Although Austria has low youth unemployment, many challenges still have to be overcome, such as the high number of apprenticeship dropouts and of candidates who fail in the final exam.
Up to September 30, 56 356 applications for asylum had been filed in Austria in 2015, compared to 17 010 in 2014 (cf. Asylstatistik 09/2015). In the federal capital Vienna (which is the most populous Austrian province), three projects are currently aiming to make the education and labour market integration of refugees easier.