In February 2023, the Minister for Education welcomed the 10 000th apprentice into Erasmus+ Mobility since the programme’s establishment. Yet, mobility stays abroad are still the exception in apprenticeship training compared to stays by other VET learners or students from higher education institutions. The ‘Apprenticeship without Borders’ initiative aims to change this.

Starting point
Despite existing funding instruments such as Erasmus+, as well as guidance and support services, there are still some inhibiting factors leading to fewer apprentices with international mobility experiences compared to other learners. In 2020, learners in full-time VET schools accounted for 72% (3 707) of approved outbound mobility in the VET sector, apprentices for 20% (or 1 038), and trainers and skilled workers for 8% (419). The share of apprentices among all upper secondary learners (including academic secondary schools) is around 36%.

A study conducted by ibw Austria – Research & Development in VET in 2022 identified mainly structural obstacles as factors inhibiting mobility stays abroad: the young age of apprentices or the large number of stakeholders that need to be involved and whose interests must match (training companies, apprentices, parents, part-time vocational schools).

The goal of the initiative
Against this backdrop, the Apprenticeship without Borders initiative was launched in December 2022 with the goal of doubling the mobility stays of apprentices by 2027, starting from the 2020 figure of around 1 000 apprentices. 

The package of measures
The Austrian Agency for Education and Internationalisation (OeAD), which is responsible for handling Erasmus+ mobility, joined forces at the end of  2022 with the Ministry of Labour and Economy (BMAW), the Ministry of Education (BMBWF) and the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) to put together a package of measures to promote the international mobility of apprentices.

To achieve this goal, the partners of the initiative defined five focal points:

  • use of increasing Erasmus+ budgets and creation of new opportunities for apprentices to spend time abroad, particularly higher individual support as well as extended opportunities for a stay abroad after completion of the apprenticeship-leave exam;
  • joint information strategy of BMBWF, BMWA, WKO and OeAD to improve awareness of the benefits of stays abroad and to eliminate information deficits among apprentices, their parents, training companies and schools;
  • communication tailored to the target group;
  • better networking of all stakeholders involved, both nationally and internationally;
  • content monitoring, support and further development through thematic monitoring as well as simplification of administration.

Communication tailored to the target group
The core of the initiative is an information campaign aimed at providing apprentices as well as training companies and part-time vocational schools with details about the possibilities and advantages of a stay abroad and the support available. For this purpose, at the end of 2022 the website Lehre ohne Grenzen(Apprenticeship without borders) was set up as a landing page addressing the various stakeholder target groups with video messages of testimonials. A media kit with posters and video clips is also provided to encourage young people and companies to spread the message of ‘Apprenticeship without Borders’ via social media. 

Read more (only in German):

Please cite this news item as: ReferNet Austria; Cedefop (2023). Austria: mobility initiative for apprentices. National news on VET

News details

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ReferNet Austria