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    Version 2023 - Drafted by Kurt Schmid, Senior researcher at ibw Austria - Member of Cedefop Community of apprenticeship experts for Austria

    1Scheme history

    Q1. When was the scheme introduced?
    Long history (before 2000)
    Recently introduced (between 2000-2012)
    New pathway (after 2012)

    The current framework was established in 1969. It however harks back to a tradition of training in the crafts system for centuries.

    Q2. How did the apprenticeship scheme originate?
    Traditional craftsmanship (master-apprentice relation) to prepare apprentices for the occupation
    School-based VET track by including more work-based learning to supply skilled workforce to match labour market needs

    The dual apprenticeship scheme shows a long tradition harking back to the medieval guild system. It has since then been the main pathway of establishing young people within the crafts occupations and also expert positions within the industries.


    Q3. Does the legal basis define the minimum and maximum age limits for enrolment of the target group of this scheme?
    Minimum and maximum age limits defined
    Minimum age limits defined only

    Minimum age is 14 years (yet 9 years of compulsory schooling have to be fulfilled). [1]
    No maximum age defined.

    [1] Minimum age for apprentices is regulated in the Law on Child and Youth Employment Act (Kinder- und Jugendlichen-Beschäftigungsgesetz 1987, version of 28.01.2019) in § 2 (1a)

    Q4. What is the average age of learners in practice?
    Between 15 and 18
    Between 18 and 24
    Above 24

    Almost 60% of beginners are 15 to 16 years old (Dornmayr & Nowak 2022, p. 33).
    Source: Dornmayr H. and Nowak S. (2018). Lehrlingsausbildung im Überblick 2022. Strukturdaten, Trends und Perspektiven. ibw-research report No. 212.,pdf [accessed 16.02.2023].


    Q5. How many learners are enrolled in this scheme?

    2021: 107,593 were enrolled in the apprenticeship scheme by 31.12.2021
    [1] Chamber of Commerce: Lehrlinge nach Sparten: 2001-2021…

    [accessed 16.02.2023]).


    Q7. Are the qualifications included in the National Qualification Framework (NQF)?
    There is no NQF

    In the eight-level Austrian National Qualifications Framework (NQF) it is at level 4 [1].

    [accessed 29.01.2019].

    Q8. Is the scheme included in the ISCED 2011 mapping?

    Programme 354 in ISCED 2011 mapping.

    Q10. Which is the type of qualification obtained through the apprenticeship scheme?
    Formal VET qualification (which does not indicate the pathway)
    Formal VET qualification (which indicates the pathway)
    Formal apprenticeship qualification (journeyman, etc.)

    The apprenticeship certificate (Lehrabschluss) is legally regulated.

    Q11. Does the scheme provide direct access to higher education?

    Direct access to higher education is possible at level (ISCED 2011 level) 55.
    Direct access is also possible to level 66 for universities of applied science (Fachhochschulen) if the study field corresponds to the apprenticeship programme and the applicant passed positively the entrance procedure at the university of applied science.

    Access to HE programmes can be acquired by taking the exam called Berufsreifeprüfung (BRP) during or after the apprenticeship training. In 2008, the 'apprenticeship with the matriculation certificate' scheme (Lehre und Matura) was introduced; this enables apprentices to acquire the Berufsreifeprüfung (BRP) parallel to their apprenticeship training.
    Source: Cedefop's VET in Europe Database:

    Q12. What is the typical duration of the apprenticeship programme?

    2-4 years [1]
    For each individual apprenticeship occupation, the Ministry of Economy issues a training regulation, which also regulates the duration of the training. The usual duration of an apprenticeship is between 2 and 4 years. There are scenarios where a prolongation of the pre-defined duration is possible:
    In case an apprentice chooses to accomplish the apprenticeship diploma plus certificate of secondary education (Berufsmatura), the apprenticeship can be prolonged by a maximum of 18 months for that purpose. But prolongation of the apprenticeship is not mandatory. The certificate provides general access to higher education.
    With the integrative (inclusive) IVET scheme (IBA in German), the legislator has created a flexible model for people at disadvantage in the labour market. There are two possibilities of integrative IVET, from which one is a prolongation of the apprenticeship by one year, in exceptional cases by up to two years and the other is the acquisition of a partial qualification where only a part of an apprenticeship occupation or of several occupations is taught. [2]
    [1] Vocational Training Act (Berufsausbildungsgesetz, BAG): § 6
    [2] Vocational Training Act (Berufsausbildungsgesetz, BAG): § 8b


    Q13. Is there any organization at the national level with roles in co-ordinating the scheme?

    The Federal Advisory Board on Apprenticeship (BBAB Bundes-Berufsausbildungsbeirat) essentially governs apprenticeship training [1] although its role is legally defined as being one of an adviser to the ministries (“of economy” as well as “of education”). BBAB is composed of an equal amount of member from the social partners (Austrian Economic Chambers, Chamber of Labour). By unanimous voting, it defines the basic design and almost all aspects of apprenticeship training (esp. of in-company training).

    [1] Vocational Training Act (Berufsausbildungsgesetz, BAG): § 31

    Q14. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives, sectoral councils (if existent), in shaping apprenticeship content, as per regulation?
    Role in designing qualification
    Role in designing curricula
    No role

    The social partners play a particularly important role in the governance of the apprenticeship training system. The social partners are essentially in charge of taking decisions about what in-company curriculum and/or competence profile a qualification for an apprenticeship occupation is based on and they exert a decisive impact on the structure and content of apprenticeship training via their work in relevant advisory councils (Bundesberufsausbildungsbeirat, BABB; Landesberufsausbildungsbeiräte, LABB).

    Q15. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives in implementing the apprenticeship scheme, as per regulation?
    Role in final assessment of apprentices
    Role in accreditation of companies
    Role in monitoring of the in-company training
    No role

    The social partners (and especially the Chamber of Commerce in their regional apprenticeship offices) have considerable administrative tasks and responsibilities:
    •    accrediting companies (see Q36)
    •    monitoring the in-company training
    •    organising practical part of the final apprenticeship exam
    •    doing essentially all administrative documentation with respect to training companies and in-company trainers
    •    providing information and giving support to companies about apprenticeship training
    The Quality Management in Apprenticeship (Qualitätsmanagement Lehrlingsausbildung, QML) initiative was launched in 2013 by the social partners. Its goal is to ensure that even more young people complete an apprenticeship and pass the apprenticeship-leave examination – without lowering the level of the exam. QML builds on a set of annually evaluated indicators of apprenticeship dropouts, the number of apprentices who (do not) sit for the final exam as well as the number of apprentices who (do not) acquire the apprenticeship certificate.

    Q16. What are the main roles of key state actors?

    Roles of Social Partners are described in Q18 to Q 20.

    The Federal Ministry of Economy and Labour is politically responsible for the training company component of dual VET. It enacts all respective ordinances. Most of its tasks are forwarded to the Chamber of Commerce (see Q18 to Q20).

    The Federal Ministry of Education is politically responsible for the part-time VET schools (including teacher employment) as well as designing the dual VET school curricula. It enacts all respective ordinances.

    The Public employment service (PES) supports apprenticeship training by offering vocational orientation and guidance as well as matching tools for applicants and training vacancies. PES fosters inclusion of certain target groups into apprenticeship training by offering financial incentives.

    5Training at the workplace

    Q17. Is it compulsory to alternate training between two learning venues (school and company)?

    In-company training is a compulsory part of the scheme, as per regulation.

    Q18. Is the in-company training defined as minimum share of the apprenticeship scheme duration?
    Yes, equivalent or more than 50% of scheme duration
    Yes, between 20% and 50% of the scheme duration
    Yes, less than 20% of the scheme duration
    No, no minimum share is compulsory

    Circa 75-80%
    Details for each apprenticeship profession are defined in the framework curricula at national level for the part-time vocational school.  

    Q19. Is there a distinction between the training time and working time for the period spent at workplace, as per regulation?
    Yes, the legal framework makes this distinction
    No, the legal framework makes no distinction
    Q20. What is the form of alternation of training between workplace (company) and school?
    Every week includes both venues
    One or more weeks (less than 1 month) spent at school followed by one or more weeks at workplace
    One or more months (less than 1 year) spent at school followed by one or more months at workplace
    A longer period (1-2 years) spent at school followed by a longer period spent training at workplace
    Various – depends on agreements between the school and the company
    Not specified

    The following organisation forms of teaching at part-time vocational schools exist:
    •    all year round, i.e. at least on one full school-day or two half school-days a week;
    •    by block, i.e. for at least eight weeks continuously;
    •    seasonally, i.e. in block form at a particular time of the year.
    The variety of organisation forms is due to consultation between the business sphere and those responsible for school education and takes account of the individual economic and regional sectors’ needs.

    Q22. Is the company hosting apprentices required by regulation to follow a training plan at the workplace?
    Yes, the training plan is based on the national/sectoral requirements for the in-company training
    Yes, the training plan is agreed at the level of school and company
    No, is not required formally

    The amount of training at the workplace, the requirements in terms of equipment and suitability of the trainers etc. are regulated by law.
    An Austrian-wide training regulation (Ausbildungsordnung) exists for every apprenticeship.
    It includes the job profile (Berufsbild) – a type of curriculum for the company-based part of training, which lays down the minimum knowledge and skills to be taught to apprentices by companies. The competence profile (Berufsprofil), which is also part of the training regulation, formulates in a learning outcome-oriented manner the competences apprentices acquire by the end of their training in both learning sites.

    Q23. What are the requirements on companies to provide placements, as per regulation?
    Have to provide a suitable learning environment
    Have to provide a mentor / tutor / trainer

    Companies that want to train apprentices are obliged, before recruiting them, to submit an application for determination of suitability for apprenticeship training (request for declaration) to the respective competent apprenticeship office of the Federal Economic Chamber. Local competence rests with the apprenticeship office of the province where the training company has its seat. The apprenticeship office is obliged by law to examine in collaboration with the Chamber of Labour whether the company meets the prerequisites for apprenticeship training [VTA § 3a] If that is the case, the company will be issued a so-called “declaration”, certifying that the company is entitled to recruit apprentices.
    Prerequisites for apprenticeship training:
    •    Fulfilment of legal conditions: the company must be entitled pursuant to the Trade, Commerce and Industry Regulation Act to carry out the activities in which the apprentice is to be trained. Apprentices cannot only be trained by trade and craft enterprises, but also by members of the liberal professions, such as pharmacists, architects, lawyers, civil engineers, etc., and by associations, administrative offices and other legal entities.
    •    Fulfilment of corporate conditions: The company needs to be equipped and managed in a way that it is in a position to impart to the apprentice the knowledge and skills included in the occupational profile. Those enterprises that cannot fully impart this knowledge and these skills have the possibility to train apprentices within the framework of a training alliance.
    The company size is not decisive for apprenticeship training. Every entrepreneur - also a one-person company - can train apprentices if it is guaranteed that they are assisted appropriately. In addition, a sufficient number of professionally and pedagogically qualified trainers (5 apprentices per part-time trainer or 15 apprentices per full-time trainer) must be available in the company.
    There are not learning venues other than the education / training provider and the training company foreseen. In case a company cannot provide the full equipment for an apprenticeship, it is obligatory that an alliance of companies do so [VTA § 2a].
    Frequently, the authorised apprenticeship trainer (e.g. the company owner) at the same time acts as the apprentices' trainer. He or she may, however, entrust another competent employee with this task. The success of company-based apprenticeship training is mainly determined by the trainer’s professional competence and pedagogical (teaching) skills.
    The majority of trainers train their apprentices on a part-time basis alongside their regular work. But there are also full-time trainers and full-time training supervisors in many large enterprises.

    Q24. What are the formal requirements regarding workplace trainers/mentors/tutors? What is their profile?

    The work of the IVET trainer not only requires certain previous professional qualifications but also proof of knowledge and skills related to vocational pedagogy and law. Candidates have to take the IVET trainer examination, which is one module of the master craftsperson examination, to assess their knowledge and skills. The IVET trainer examination is waived upon successful completion of a forty-hour IVET trainer course. Some qualifications or exams (e.g. successful completion of a foreperson course) are treated as equivalent to the IVET trainer examination or IVET trainer course.

    IVET trainers are registered at the Chamber of Commerce (I.e. more precisely at the regional apprenticeship offices, Lehrlingsstellen)

    A sufficient number of professionally and pedagogically qualified trainers (5 apprentices per part-time trainer or 15 apprentices per full-time trainer) must be available in the company (see Q29).

    Q25. Are there any sanctions on companies that do not provide training to apprentices at the workplace?

    Sanctions exist for those training companies not fulfilling their obligations:
    •    to register an apprenticeship contract in time
    •    to grant the apprentice the time required to attend vocational school, or
    •    to prompt the apprentice to attend school regularly, or
    •    not to use the apprentice for non-professional activities, or
    •    to observe the fixed quantitative ratio in accepting apprentices (see Q36),
    •    to entrust a suitable trainer with training duties, or
    •    to lodge a complaint in accordance with para. 9 (which defines the responsibilities of the trainer) in time or
    •    to assure all measures needed to provide supplementary training (e.g. a training alliance)
    Committing an administrative offense is fined with up to € 1,090, in the cases of b, d and f; however, they may be fined with at least € 145, and after repeated offenses with a fine of at least € 327 to € 2,180.
    Companies who are not allowed to train but nevertheless train apprentices may be fined with up to € 3.270.

    6Contract and compensation

    Q26. What is the status of the learner?
    Only student
    Only employee
    Apprentice is a specific status (student and employee combined)

    Apprentice is a specific status as defined by the law (BAG), i.e. he/she is an employee and a learner as well.

    Q27. Is there any written arrangement between the learner and company, required as per regulation?

    The apprenticeship contract is signed by the apprentice and the training company. In case of underage apprentices, the apprenticeship contract must also be signed by his or her legal representative.
    The apprenticeship contract must be concluded in writing. Standardised forms can be obtained from the Apprenticeship Offices of the economic chambers in the individual federal provinces.
    The apprenticeship contract must include the following details:
    •    the name of the occupation in which apprenticeship is conducted;
    •    the beginning and end of training;
    •    details regarding the people authorised to train apprentices at the workplace; and
    •    the trainer related to the apprentice;
    •    note concerning compulsory attendance of part-time vocational school;
    •    periods of training held within the framework of a training alliance with other companies or educational institutions;
    •    amount of the apprenticeship remuneration;
    •    day on which the apprenticeship contract is concluded
    Source: Vocational Training Act (Berufsausbildungsgesetz, BAG): § 12 (3)

    Q28. What is the nature of the written arrangement?
    Apprenticeships are an ordinary employment contract
    Apprenticeships are a specific type of contract
    Another type of formal agreement, not a contract

    Apprenticeship contract is a specific type as it combines employment and qualification/training, which stipulates that the apprentice has to attend compulsory part-time vocational school.
    Entitlements are regulated under labour law: for example, the apprentice is entitled to 5 weeks of vacation per year.
    The payment of sick pay is regulated in the Vocational Training Act.
    The provisions of the Child and Youth Employment Act must be maintained for apprentices up to the age of 18 years.

    Q29. Where is the contract or the formal agreement registered?
    At the school
    At the Ministry of employment
    At the chambers
    At the Ministry of education

    The apprenticeship contract must be submitted for recording purposes as fast as possible, at least within three weeks after the beginning of the training, to the Apprenticeship Office “at the Economic Chambers at the province level, which work on behalf of the Ministry of Economy. The Apprenticeship Office will then examine the data of the apprenticeship contract and the training enterprises’ suitability.  The recording of the apprenticeship contract is a prerequisite for the apprentice's later admittance to the apprenticeship-leave exam.

    Q30. Do apprentices receive a wage or allowance?
    Yes, all apprentices receive a wage (taxable income)
    Yes, all apprentices receive an allowance (not a form of taxable income)
    Apprentices receive a reimbursement of expenses
    No form of compensation is foreseen by law

    Apprentice remunerations are taxable. However, they are usually so low that they do not reach the lower limit of taxation. Social insurance contribution is detracted from the remuneration.
    Its amount is specified by collective agreements and ranges between some EUR 420 and some EUR 2,450 gross a month (14 times a year) depending on the apprenticeship occupation and year. The remuneration increases with every apprenticeship year until, in the final year, it totals an approximate average of 70-80% of the corresponding skilled worker's wage. The reason for this is that the apprentices’ share in productive work increases with every year, which means they contribute more to the training company’s productivity every year [1].
    [1] IBW Austria, income range based on desktop research [16.02.2023].

    Q31. How is the apprentice wage (taxable income) set?
    By law (applying for all)
    By cross-sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
    By sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
    By firm-level collective agreements or individual agreements between apprentice and company

    The apprenticeship remuneration's amount is laid down for each individual apprenticeship occupation in collective bargaining agreements at national sectoral (or sometimes at company) level.
    Where no collective bargaining agreements exist, it is necessary to agree on the apprenticeship remuneration in the apprenticeship contract individually.

    7Financing and incentives

    Q32. Who covers the cost of the wage or allowance of the apprentice?

    Apprentice remuneration covers the time spent in company and in the part-time vocational school. The training enterprise bears the costs of company-based training, whereas the costs of school-based education (part-time vocational school) are financed by public funds.
    Additionally, financial subsides for companies are financed by the Austrian insolvency remuneration fund, a fund that is financed entirely by companies themselves (see Q13).

    Q33. What are the sources of financing of the direct costs for the in-company training part of the apprenticeship scheme?
    Single employers hosting apprentices
    Sectoral funds

    The training enterprise bears the costs of company-based training, whereas the costs of school-based education (part-time vocational school) are financed by public funds. Since in-company training covers 75-80% of the apprenticeship scheme duration, by far the greatest part of costs of vocational training is borne by enterprises.

    Q34. Are there any financial incentives for companies that offer apprenticeship places?
    Yes, subsidies
    Yes, tax deductions
    Yes, other incentives
    No financial incentives

    Since 2016, every training company gets a direct public subsidy for each apprentice. This basic subsidisation is linked to the apprenticeship wage and gradually reduced over the apprenticeship years. More concretely, training companies get back 3 times a monthly apprenticeship wage in the first training year, twice during the second year and one monthly apprenticeship wage for the third (and fourth) training year. The basic rationale behind this design is to compensate training companies for the low productivity of apprentices in their initial years.
    Additionally, training companies may get “criteria-based subsidies” in the form of grants [1]. These incentives are earmarked to…
    •    foster quality e.g. through coaching, building training alliances, providing extra preparation for the final apprenticeship examination (FAE) or the qualifications of trainers, and/or
    •    address specific target groups and/or occupations e.g. by employing apprentices from supra-company scheme, by training girls in in occupations typically dominated by boys (ie max. 30% share of girls), or providing training for inclusive/integrative programmes etc.
    Incentives mentioned so far are financed by the Austrian insolvency remuneration fund, which is financed entirely by companies themselves (0.35% of lump sum of wages; 0.2% of it are earmarked for direct subsidisation of training companies). In essence, it is a compulsory training fund which redistributes the levy of all companies to the ones that train apprentices.
    Additionally, training companies get indirect financial subsidies by:
    •    waivers in the area of non-labour costs, i.e. employers do not have to pay their part of social security contributions for apprentices for sickness, unemployment and accident insurance
    •    tax deduction, i.e. charging the training expenditures lead to a reduction of the companies’ taxable profit).
    In some sectors and/or regions additional training funds exist:
    •    In the construction sector a third supra-company learning site (BAUAkademien) is financed by compulsory levies for all companies in the sector since 1982.
    •    In western Austria (Bundesland Vorarlberg) a voluntary training fund exists in the electro- and metal industry (VEM). All participating companies voluntarily pay in a levy of 2.4‰ of the lump sum of wages. Training companies get a one-time bonus for each of their apprentices who positively succeed in a skills competition.
    In Austria, also apprentices themselves may get subsidies. These are financed from funds of the labour market policy budget, i.e. the Public Employment Service (PES). [2]
    [1] Companies have to apply for these criteria-based subsidies at the local apprenticeship offices. They have to proof their expenses and get them partly reimbursed up to a certain amount:….
    [2] For details see….
    Source Schmid Kurt (2019): Financial Incentives for Companies to Engage in VET: Options, Pros & Cons. DC dVET Discussion Note

    For more information on how this scheme is financed, see also Cedefop's Database on financing apprenticeships in the EU:…

    Q35. Does the wage or allowance of the apprentice cover both the time spent at school and in the company?
    No, it covers only the time spent in the company

    Apprenticeship remuneration also covers time spend in part-time vocational school.

    Q36. Are there any incentives for learners?
    Yes, grants paid to learners to top up their remuneration
    Yes, grants paid to learners related to other costs (travel, food etc.)
    Yes, recognition of prior learning / fast-track opportunities
    Yes, other types of incentives

    Learners may receive financial means according to some “criteria-based subsidies”, e.g for outperforming success in final exams or for participating in international mobility.

    “Older apprentices” (age 18 and older) get some higher remuneration.  

    Graduates from upper secondary who start an apprenticeship enter training in year 2 (with corresponding apprenticeship remuneration).

    Other additional financial means are offered by companies on a voluntary basis, e.g. for attracting talented applicants into dual VET.