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.

The mother-tongue integration support scheme StartWien has provided information sessions since mid-September 2015. These are held twice a week in cooperation with adult education centres and aim to provide orientation through basic information about important topics (including education, health and living) in the respective mother tongue (with focus on Arabic, Farsi/Dari). The sessions address asylum seekers as well as people who have been granted asylum or subsidiary protection.

Compulsory education in Austria that lasts from the age of six to 15 is also obligatory for children of this age group who seek or have been granted asylum or subsidiary protection. As part of so-called Jugend Colleges (youth colleges) relevant education and training will be offered to young people (aged 15 to 21) who arrived in Vienna recently. Following a phase in which their interests and previous qualifications will become clearer through needs-oriented assessment, these young people will be prepared for school-based education or a vocational training programme. All students need to attend German language classes but they can then choose among different subjects. Career guidance and periods of work placement help their decision on the education or training path they want to pursue. Social pedagogue support will also be available. The periods of study in these colleges, which are open to new entrants every month, will differ depending on the young people’s previous qualifications. The education providers will have the final say on which contents they will teach and how they will organise these colleges. A total of 1 000 college places will be financed by the European social fund (ESF) and funds provided by the Vienna City Administration.

Asylum seekers have very restricted access to the labour market in Austria and only when they are recognised as refugees or granted subsidiary protection do they get unrestricted access. By the end of September 2015, around 19 000 recognised refugees and people who have been granted subsidiary protection were registered with the public employment service (AMS), two thirds of them in Vienna. AMS Vienna has launched a pilot project called Kompetenzencheck (competence check) that aims to promote their fast integration into the labour market. The focus is on helping them recognise their existing and/or desired qualifications. The competence check has been designed as a course of ten hours. It lasts for five weeks and includes one-on-one coaching. Language support is currently provided in Arabic, Farsi, Russian and French.

More info:

StartWien (in English)

Asylstatistik 09/2015 (in German)

Kompetenzencheck (in German)