In the fight against the growing shortage of skilled workers, Austria is focusing on innovative VET programmes for new target groups. With the Dual Academy, a programme has been created that aligns traditional apprenticeship training specifically with the needs of holders of the upper secondary (matriculation) certificate. Following a successful pilot phase, this programme will be rolled out across Austria from September 2022.


Currently, about 75% of all compulsory school leavers in Austria opt for a VET programme to continue their education pathway. Nevertheless, the continuing decline in the number of young people due to demographic change has made the shortage of skilled workers a massive problem in almost all parts of the economy. The aim is therefore to attract new target groups to dual VET through new programmes that are attractive in terms of content and structure. The focus is particularly on young adults who have acquired a higher education entrance qualification, hardly any of whom have so far decided to take up a dual VET course.

The Dual Academy programme (DA)

In 2018, the Upper Austrian Economic Chamber started to pilot the Dual Academy (DA) programme. Following the pilot phase that has also been running in some other provinces, this training scheme has been further developed based on the findings of an evaluation accompanying the pilot.

The DA combines work-based learning in a company with education at a vocational school, a combination which offers further educational opportunities to acquire social, digital and international skills. The programme includes the preparation of a practical project and a mandatory stay abroad. Depending on the regular duration of the integrated dual VET, the DA lasts between 2 and 3 years.

Why is this programme attractive for people with a general higher education entrance qualification?

  • credits are granted for prior general education. This shortens the duration of this training by one year;
  • most of the training takes place in the company and learners immediately apply what they have learned. This aims to attract particularly those who prefer practical work-based learning to more theoretical classroom learning;
  • in the final year of training, participants are integrated into the work process as fully fledged skilled workers, enabling a smooth transition from training to the labour market;
  • attractive income opportunities already available during the training;
  • recognised, quality-assured degrees.

The DA professional qualification was assigned to NQF level 5 in April 2022. This means that this qualification is on the same level as degrees from colleges for higher vocational education, and one level above traditional apprenticeship diplomas (EQF level 4).

Austria-wide rollout 

Since September 2022, the DA has been rolled out across Austria in 13 professional fields under the responsibility of the Ministry of Labour and Economy. It is planned to introduce additional programmes in the future on an annual basis. In the medium term, the DA is to be established as a regular part of the Austrian education system, to provide graduates of academic secondary schools (AHS) with an attractive and practice-oriented alternative to general higher education.

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Please cite this news item as: ReferNet Austria; Cedefop (2022). Austria: new apprenticeship programme to attract highly qualified learners. National news on VET