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General themes

VET in Austria has the following main features:

  • VET ranks high; about 70% of each age cohort opt for a VET path at the end of compulsory education ([1]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
    http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8127_en.pdf
    ).
  • early leaving is comparatively low at 7.3% in 2018 and a ‘safety net’ for young people has been in place for many years. In 2017, the training obligation until age 18 was introduced: all young people who are not in education and training, or in a job, must participate in mainstream school-based programmes, apprenticeships or other recognised training;
  • school-based VET and apprenticeships (dual track training) coexist. They cover nearly all economic sectors and lead to different qualification levels (either EQF 4 or 5).
  • there is a variety of VET programmes at tertiary level and for adults.

Distinctive features ([2]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8127_en.pdf
):

  • the broad range of available VET programmes is not only reflected in the various types of training and qualification levels but also in the fields of study, which include business, engineering, tourism, fashion, design, arts, and agriculture. Programmes can be adapted to regional economic contexts and skill needs, and allow learners to develop their strengths and talents in the best possible way.
  • all programmes at upper secondary level, whether school-based or dual-track, combine VET with general education and theory with practice. Work-based learning is central to VET, particularly in apprenticeships where learners spend 80% of their training time in a company. School-based VET is also practice-oriented, including learning in workshops, labs, training restaurants and practice firms, complemented by mandatory work placements in companies. Project and diploma assignments as part of the final exam of the five-year VET programme (EQF 5) are often set by companies or carried out with their collaboration. Many teachers have experience in business and industry, which, for certain areas, is also an admission requirement;
  • much attention is paid to the acquisition of key competences (e.g. team work, digital and entrepreneurial skills). At least one foreign language is mandatory − in some study fields (such as tourism) up to three − and is also used as a working language at several schools. Competence-orientation is a key principle in VET;
  • the number of apprentices (within the dual VET-track) being trained is driven by company demand. On completion of compulsory education, young people apply for apprenticeship places in companies and conclude a training contract with them. Apprentices are also assigned to the respective school-based programme, which is mandatory;
  • many VET programmes are offered outside the formal education system. A diverse range of institutions offers continuing training and progression opportunities to complement or upgrade people’s initial qualifications.

Despite its wide recognition, VET faces several challenges:

  • basic skills: OECD-PISA results in recent years suggest that the share of learners with low achievement in reading literacy and maths is comparatively high. Companies tend to point to young apprentices’ basic skills gaps. This drives the current government’s goal that no young person should leave compulsory education without having achieved basic competence levels in reading, writing and maths. 
  • early leaving from education and training: early leaving rates from education and training have been comparatively low and a ’safety net’ for young people has been in place for many years. What used to be an offer became a training obligation until age 18 in 2017: all young people who are not in post-compulsory education and training, or in a job, must participate in mainstream school-based programmes, apprenticeships or other recognised training until the age of 18.
  • value of non-formal training: Austria has a relatively segmented education system; permeability is limited, particularly between non-formal and formal programmes at higher levels. Public perception of formal and non-formal qualifications is not the same. The national qualifications framework (NQR) is expected to provide a new perspective on them, as assignment to NQF levels is based on learning outcomes, irrespective of the institutional context in which they were acquired.

Data from VET in Austria Spotlight 2017 ([3]Cedefop (2017). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8114_en.pdf
).

Population in 2018: 8 822 267 ([4]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

The continuous increase in the size of the population since the mid-1980s is mainly due to the growing influx of foreign nationals, rising particularly sharply in recent years. Overall, roughly 16% of the Austrian population are foreign nationals ([5]Cedefop (forthcoming). Vocational education and training in Austria: short description. Luxembourg: Publications Office.).

It increased since 2013 by 4.4% mainly due to migration ([6]NB: Data for population as of 1 January. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019]). According to the projection of Statistics Austria, based on assumptions on fertility, mortality and migration, the population will continue to grow to nine million people by 2022, to over 9.3 million by the year 2030 and to 9.53 million people by 2040 (+8% compared to 2018) ([7]Statistics Austria (2018). The Austrian population will grow to 10 million inhabitants by 2080; labour force increases by 5%. Press release 11.903-214/18 published on 22.11.2018.
http://www.statistik.at/web_en/statistics/PeopleSociety/population/119618.html .
).

The demographic development reveals that the population is ageing, as in many other EU countries. In 2015 only 18.5% of the Austrian population were aged 65 years or older; the share of this population segment in the population overall is expected to increase to over 29% by 2060.

The old-age dependency ratio ([8]Old-age-dependency ratio is defined as the ratio between the number of persons aged 65 and more over the number of working-age persons (15-64). The value is expressed per 100 persons of working age (15-64).) will also continue to rise. In 2016 the number of people aged 65 and above, in relation to the 15 to 64 year-olds, was still slightly more than one to four (27.4%); projections show this ratio reaching about one to two by 2060. This means there will be less than two people in employment for every pensioner ([9]Cedefop (2018). Vocational education and training in Austria: short description [unpublished working paper].
).

 

Population forecast by age group and old-age-dependency ratio

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The demographic structure and dynamics in Austria – mainly driven by migration and an aging society – will have an impact on available resources as well as on the demand for education ([10]Oberwimmer, K. et al. (2019). Nationaler Bildungsbericht Österreich 2018, Band 1 [National education report, Volume 1]; Das Schulsystem im Spiegel von Daten und Indikatoren [Education in facts and figures], p. 25.
https://www.bifie.at/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/NBB_2018_Band1_v3_final.pdf
).

Because of migration, support structures (such as classes in German) have been created for the acquisition of German as a foreign language (language of instruction) and measures have been taken to make it possible for migrants to complete VET programmes: these include transition courses, the ‘b.mobile’ programme ([11]See
https://www.wko.at/site/fachkraeftepotenzial/b_mobile.html
) of the Austrian economic chambers.

The demographic development towards an ’aging society’ will have an impact on the education sector. In order to keep pace with the (future) requirements of the economy, lifelong learning (LLL) will become imperative. Therefore it is/will be necessary to encourage participation of older employees in further and higher qualification (VET) programmes ([12]Cedefop (2018). Vocational education and training in Austria: short description [unpublished working paper].
).

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the Austrian Economy: 99.6% of all enterprises are SMEs. Around 330 000 such enterprises employ nearly two million people (2016) ([13]Austrian Institute for SME Research (2019). KMU-Daten 2016 [Key figures on SMEs, 2016].
https://www.kmuforschung.ac.at/zahlen-fakten/kmu-daten/
).

87% of them are micro-enterprises with fewer than ten employees. 11% are small enterprises employing between ten and 49 people, around 2% are medium-sized enterprises with 50 to 249 employees. Overall more than 1.9 million people are self-employed or work in dependent employment in Austrian SMEs. This means that SMEs provide work to around two thirds of the entire workforce. The share of large enterprises in the total number of Austrian companies is only 0.4%. But they employ roughly one third of all employees. Especially for SMEs – and particularly for micro and small enterprises – vocational education and training (VET) that is properly differentiated and adjusted to current and future requirements is very important because these companies, as a rule, do not have their own in-house HR (development) and research departments ([14]Cedefop (2018). Vocational education and training in Austria: short description [unpublished working paper].
).

Since the 1960s, the Austrian economy has undergone fundamental changes. In 1960, agriculture and forestry still boasted an 11% share in the gross value added. The services sector, at around 42%, was behind the manufacturing sector (47%). In the 1970s, structural change started and continues today; it has led to a shrinking of the primary and secondary sectors to the benefit of the tertiary sector. Today more than 70% of the value added is created in this sector, which also employs around 70% of the workforce. In response, new specialisations and qualifications have been introduced in the education sector (mainly in wholesale and retail trade, tourism, healthcare) to meet the requirements of the economy. In addition, increasing attention is being paid to teaching key competences, which play a major role in the services-oriented economy ([15]Cedefop (2018). Vocational education and training in Austria: short description [unpublished working paper].
).

The most important manufacturing sectors (by turnover 2017) and export sectors of the Austrian economy with the dominance of SMEs are ([16]WKÖ- Austrian Economic Chamber (2018). Statistical Yearbook 2018.
http://wko.at/statistik/jahrbuch/2018_Englisch.pdf.
):

  • energy supply;
  • machinery and motor vehicles;
  • metals and metal products;
  • electrical and electronic equipment;
  • food and feed;
  • petroleum, chemical and pharmaceutical products;
  • plastic, glass, wood, paper products.

In terms of foreign trade, tourism, environmental technology, construction and infrastructure, creative industries, training and the service sector are strong sectors ([17]WKÖ-Austrian Economic Chamber (2019). Österreichische Exportwirtschaft 2019/2020 [Austrian foreign trade 2019-20], S. 12f.
https://www.wko.at/service/aussenwirtschaft/oesterreichische-exportwirtschaft.pdf [accessed 23.5.2019].
).

In Austria around 200 professions are regulated ([18]See
http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/regprof/index.cfm
); they require a specific professional qualification when accessing or exercising them. Certificates/diplomas are generally very important, although for most jobs they are not a formal requirement.

Total unemployment (2018): 4.3% (6 % in EU-28); it increased by 0.9 % percentage points compared to 2008 ([19]Source: Eurostat, une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2008-18

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series; low reliability for ISCED 5-8, age 15-24.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Unemployment differs strongly for persons with low-, medium- and high-level formal education.

In 2018 the unemployment rate of persons (aged 25-64) without an upper secondary qualification was 10.9%, almost three times higher than of persons with at least upper secondary education (3.8%) and even higher than of people with tertiary education background (3%).

Younger people (aged 15-24) with no or lower formal qualifications are especially affected by significantly higher unemployment risks and rates. However, in 2018, Austria had the sixth lowest unemployment rate (13.9%) in an EU-28 comparison (21.9%) among young people (15 to 24 year-olds). This is particularly due to the varied VET programmes offered at the upper secondary level ([20]Cedefop (forthcoming). Vocational education and training in Austria: short description. Luxembourg: Publications Office).

The employment rate of 20 to 34 year-old VET graduates increased from 86.3% in 2014 to 88.6% in 2018; it is 8.1 percentage points above the EU 28-average (80.5%) ([21]Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

 

Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The employment of 20-34 year-old VET graduates of ISCED levels 3 and 4 increased to 88.6% (+2.3 pp) between 2014 and 2018 ([22]NB: Beaks in time series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

This is due to the wide range of vocational programmes at upper secondary level, which make it possible for graduates to enter the labour market directly ([23]Cedefop (2018). Vocational education and training in Austria: short description [unpublished working paper].
).

The employment rate and the change between 2014 and 2018 in the employment rate of 20-34 year-old VET graduates at ISCED levels 3 and 4 is higher compared to that for all 20-34 year-old graduates (2014: 83.5%, 2018 84.5%) ([24]NB: Breaks in time series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

In 2018 more than half of 25 to 64 year-olds (52.6%) acquired a qualification in an education programme at ISCED Level 3 or 4, i.e. an apprenticeship diploma or a qualification from a school for intermediate vocational education or a general secondary school. This also reflects the importance of the upper secondary sector within the Austrian education system.

About one third of the population (32.7%) between the ages of 25 and 64 years completed a tertiary education programme, also including ‘short programmes’ (ISCED 5) below the bachelor degree, such as the qualification obtained at a five-year school-based VET programme or at an industrial master college.

But many programmes aiming at vocational further and higher qualifications (such as the engineer qualification, the financial accountant qualification, qualifications obtained in the police force) are offered outside the formal education system and are not included in ISCED ([25]Cedefop (2018). Vocational education and training in Austria: short description [unpublished working paper].
).

The share of the population with no or low-level qualifications (ISCED 0-2) is significantly lower (14.7%) compared to the EU-28 average (21.8%), and the share of the medium-qualified (52.6 % at levels 3-4) significantly higher (EU-28: 45.7%). The shares of the high-qualified (ISCED 5-8) are almost balanced (AT: 32.7%, EU-28: 32.2%).

Population (aged 25 to 64) by highest education level attained in 2018

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011. Low reliability for ‘No response’ in Czechia, Iceland, Latvia, and Poland.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_pgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].
 

For more information about VET in higher education in Austria please see the case study from Cedefop's changing nature and role of VET in Europe project [25a]Cedefop (2019). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 6: vocationally oriented education and training at higher education level. Expansion and diversification in European countries. Case study focusing on Austria. Cedefop research paper; No 70. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/austria_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study.pdf

In Austria nearly 70% of all upper secondary education VET learners (ISCED level 3) are enrolled in vocational programmes compared to 47.2% in the EU-28 average (2017) ([26]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8127_en.pdf
).

This is primarily due to the high attractiveness and inflow of approximately 40 % – a relative constant rate since the mid- 1990s – of an age cohort to the apprenticeship training in Austria.

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower secondary

upper secondary

post-secondary

not applicable

68.6%

100%

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of initial VET learners from total learners at upper secondary level (ISCED level 3), 2017

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Around 70% of each age cohort opts for a VET programme at the end of compulsory education ([27]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8127_en.pdf
). There are more male learners in these programmes (80% choose a VET programme) than female ones (70%) ([28]Dornmayr, H.; Nowak, S. (2018). Lehrlingsausbildung im Überblick 2018 - Strukturdaten, Trends und Perspektiven [Apprenticeship overview 2018: structural data, trends and perspectives]. Vienna: ibw research report; No 193.
https://ibw.at/bibliothek/id/481/.
).

Education choices of females and males in IVET differ:

  • young males are traditionally overrepresented in apprenticeship training (77 %) with the main focus on technical trades and crafts. They also favour technical branches in school-based VET;
  • young females generally prefer school-based VET with commercial, economic, social, healthcare and pedagogical programme orientation.

In Austria the share of early leavers from education and training – 18 to 24 year-olds, who have not graduated from upper secondary level and are currently not in education and training – has further decreased from 8.8% in 2009 to 7.3% in 2018. The national target of 9.5% in 2020 has already been passed and is clearly below the EU-28 average (10.6%) with the European benchmark of less than 10% for 2020.

This relatively favourable figure in comparison to the EU-28 is attributed to the wide and differentiated range of education and training programmes after compulsory schooling, especially apprenticeship training and the VET school sector.

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_14 [extracted 16.5.2019] and European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/info/2018-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stability-convergence-programmes_en [accessed 14.11.2018].

 

Austria has already achieved, even exceeded, the EU benchmark for lifelong learning of 15%, reaching 15.1% in 2018. The Austrian government in 2011 upgraded the national target for adults aged 25 to 64 years to take part in lifelong learning to 20% by 2020 ([29]https://www.qualifikationsregister.at/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Strategie1.pdf).

LLL participation is generally higher among women than men and is clearly above the EU-28 average (11.1%) ([30]Cedefop (2018). Vocational education and training in Austria: short description [unpublished working paper].
).

Especially in an aging society, lifelong learning (LLL) will become imperative to keeping pace with the (future) requirements of the economy. Encouraging participation of older employees in further and higher qualification programmes is essential ([31]Cedefop (2018). Vocational education and training in Austria: short description [unpublished working paper].
).

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training.
Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

 

Adults in education and training by age group

Source: National data (Statistics Austria, Micro Census – Labour force survey).

 

According to the labour force survey, around 400 000 people between 15 and 19 were in education and training (IVET) in 2016. Just below 430 000 people aged 20 to 29 were in IVET or CVET; more than 590 000 people at the age of 30 and above participated in an education and training programme.

Structure of the Austrian education system:

  • kindergarten or preschool education (ISCED 0);
  • primary level (ISCED 1);
  • lower secondary level (ISCED 2);
  • upper secondary level (ISCED 3-4);
  • post-secondary non-tertiary level (ISCED 5);
  • tertiary level (ISCED 5-8).

General compulsory schooling starts at the age of six and lasts nine years. To promote equality of opportunity and employability, a training obligation up to the age of 18 has been established after completion of compulsory schooling; this means that young people are obliged to take part in a training programme or attend an educational measure up to the age of 18.

  • primary level (four years, learners aged 6 to 10): before entering the four-year primary school, half-day attendance at nursery school/kindergarten is obligatory. For children with special educational needs (SEN) integrative classes are set up at primary school or there are specific special needs schools which are geared towards the education requirements of individual types of disability;
  • lower secondary level (four years, learners aged 10 to 14): at this education level learners can choose to follow general secondary education offered at the academic secondary school (AHS) or at the new secondary school (NMS). In these school types, the learners with SEN can either attend integrative classes or the fifth to eight grade of a special needs school. To switch from primary school to NMS or the lower cycle of AHS, learners need a positive final certificate of the fourth class of primary school; for entering the lower cycle of AHS, additional performance requirements (such as specific marks in the main subjects) and possibly an entrance examination are foreseen;
  • upper secondary level (one to five years, learners aged 15 to 19): the first school year of upper secondary education is, at the same time, the final year of compulsory education. Compulsory education ends after attendance of nine school years; there is no separate compulsory school certificate. At the upper secondary level, learners can choose between general and (pre-)vocational education programmes. Many of these programmes support direct entry to the labour market, provide access to post-secondary programmes and/or lead to the tertiary sector either directly or upon acquisition of higher education entrance qualifications;
  • post-secondary and tertiary level (different durations; learners aged 19+): higher VET programmes (which aim to provide further and higher qualifications, especially for holders of initial VET qualifications), many of which are organised in cooperation with work-based learning in companies, are offered in the formal education context (schools and universities) but also the non-formal context (outside schools in adult education institutions). Higher education programmes, which lead to Bologna qualifications and are primarily academically oriented and designed as pre-professional, are offered at universities, universities of applied sciences and university colleges of teacher education;
  • education outside the formal education system: many adult education establishments provide programmes for personal and professional continuing education. There are also programmes which make it possible for adults to acquire qualifications in the formal education sector. For the unemployed and those threatened by unemployment, programmes are offered as part of active labour market policy.

At secondary level, learners can choose from various pre-VET and VET options in different occupations/ sectors:

  • different types of one- or two-year pre-VET (Polytechnische Schule, PTS, ISCED 341; berufsbildende mittlere Schule, BMS, ISCED 351): learners acquire general education, key competences and basic vocational skills preparing them for further school-based VET, apprenticeships and simple jobs on the labour market;
  • three- to four-year school-based VET (berufsbildende mittlere Schule, BMS, ISCED 354, EQF 4): learners strengthen their general education and acquire the respective occupational competences and qualifications to perform medium-level jobs. Those who complete an add-on programme or take the Berufsreifeprüfung (exam for people whose initial VET does not automatically qualify them for entry into higher education) also obtain general access to higher education studies;
  • five-year school-based VET (berufsbildende höhere Schule, BHS, ISCED 354-554, EQF 5): combining theory and practice, these programmes offer high-quality occupation-related training while strengthening learners’ general education. They lead to double qualifications for senior positions in business and general access to higher education at the same time (Reife- und Diplomprüfung);
  • apprenticeships (dual track training) (ISCED 354, EQF 4) in some 200 occupations and trades for learners from age 15 onwards, after compulsory education. They lead to qualifications at medium level. Graduates can progress to qualify, for instance, as master craftsperson or, following additional exams, access tertiary level training in a related field. By completing the Berufsreifeprüfung or an add-on programme they can also obtain general access to higher education;
  • training for occupations in the health sector: access to programmes preparing for care and medical assistant professions (ISCED 351 and 353) and other occupations in the health sector (ISCED 351) requires completed compulsory education, being of minimum age, and/or a specific qualification. Training to become a specialist and general care nurse (ISCED 454) is being upgraded to bachelor level. This process will be completed by 2023.

VET at post-secondary level

The introduction of ISCED-2011 has had the result that a series of VET programmes which had formerly been classified as ‘post-secondary, non-tertiary’ are now considered as ‘tertiary’. Due to this change in classification, the number of post-secondary programmes is now reduced while the number of tertiary programmes has risen. ISCED Category 4 basically only comprises schools for healthcare and nursing (ISCED 454). However, the programme to become a specialist and general care nurse offered in this school is being upgraded to a bachelor programme at universities of applied sciences. This process will be completed by 2023, so no VET programmes at ISCED level 4 will be provided in the future.

VET at tertiary level

At tertiary level (ISCED 5 to 8) a wide range of VET programmes are offered. These are provided at higher education institutions, in particular by universities of applied sciences and university colleges of teacher education.

  • Bachelor and master programmes provided at the universities of applied sciences (FH, ISCED 665 / 767) are offered both as full-time and also as part-time in the evening (with extended overall programme duration). A period of work placement is a mandatory part of the bachelor programme curriculum. The programmes are completed with an academic thesis followed by a final exam. Successful completion of an FH master’s programme entitles graduates to access subject-related PhD courses at university.
  • Teacher education programmes offered by university colleges (PH, ISCED 665) aim to train compulsory school teachers for the type of education selected in a four-year bachelor programme. These PH programmes focus on imparting knowledge and skills related to teaching and didactics as well as their application in school life. There are practical teacher training phases within the bachelor programme as well as an induction period, a one-year phase in which graduates teach at a school under the supervision of a mentor.

Tertiary VET is also provided in special schools or in adult learning centres. This includes add-on courses (Aufbaulehrgänge) and post-secondary VET programmes (Kollegs), which both lead to the same qualification as offered by the five-year school-based VET programme at secondary level. There are also special schools offering the industrial master programme (Werkmeisterschule) and the building craftsperson programme (Bauhandwerkerschule). Preparation for the master craftsperson examination (Meisterprüfung) is offered by master craftsperson schools (Meisterschulen) within the formal education system or by adult learning centres, which are not considered to be part of the formal system.

Learners can acquire qualifications in one of the 200 legally recognised apprenticeship programmes with different area specialisations (construction, electro, information technology, wholesale and retail) offered at ISCED 354 level (EQF 4). Apprenticeship training takes place at two places of learning: in the training company and at vocational school. A prerequisite for taking part in an apprenticeship is the successful completion of nine years of compulsory education. Learners need to find themselves an apprenticeship place in a company to be able to access this programme. Once a training company is found, leaners need to sign an apprenticeship agreement with the authorised apprenticeship trainer, which is recorded by the apprenticeship offices (Lehrlingsstellen).

There is an Austrian-wide training regulation (Ausbildungsordnung) 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. The social partners are essentially in charge of taking decisions about what in-company curriculum and/or competence profile 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.

At the end of the apprenticeship period, every apprentice can take the apprenticeship-leaving examination (LAP), comprising practical and theoretical parts. The apprenticeship qualification can also be acquired via a so-called exceptional admission. For this purpose, relevant periods of professional practice and attendance of relevant course events are credited as a substitute for formal apprenticeship training.

Following successful completion of the LAP, graduates have various progression options, such as taking the master craftsperson exam for a skilled craft. Access to HE programmes can be acquired by taking the exam called Berufsreifeprüfung (BRP) during or after the apprenticeship training. For many, an apprenticeship also forms the basis for a self-employed career. Almost 40% of managers in the business sphere have completed an apprenticeship.

The increasing tendency for young people to want to acquire a professional qualification, preferably in apprenticeship training, combined with the fact that the willingness of companies to train apprentices has decreased, has led to the expansion of supra-company training (ÜBA, Überbetriebliche Berufsausbildung). Originally conceived as a temporary education offer until entry to a regular, company-based apprenticeship, ÜBA was incorporated as an equivalent part of dual VET in 2008. Now it is possible for young people who do not find a company-based apprenticeship post or have not been accepted by a VET school to spend the entire duration of the training in an ÜBA, which is funded publicly through Public Employment Service Austria. The school-based part of apprenticeship training is provided at the regular vocational school.

The heterogeneity of people interested in dual VET has also resulted in the establishment of inclusive VET in 2003. Inclusive VET is mainly intended for young people who, at the end of compulsory schooling, have special educational needs and have not graduated from lower secondary level. It can be implemented in two variants, either the training period can be extended by one or two years, or only selected competences of an apprenticeship are taught (partial qualifications). Partial qualifications are supported by vocational training assistance (Berufsausbildungsassistenz). This advises and supports the training companies and young people before and during the training.

A relevant apprenticeship training scheme has also been set up for especially talented young people who find learning easy: 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 and to attend preparatory courses and complete partial exams free of charge. Since 1997 they have also had the option to complete the entire BRP after obtaining their apprenticeship diploma ([32]Tritscher-Archan, S. (2016). Vocational education and training in Europe – Austria. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports. http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2016/2016_CR_AT.pdf).

Learn more about apprenticeships in the national context from Cedefop’s European database on apprenticeship schemes: http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/apprenticeship-schemes/scheme-fiches

The responsibilities for VET at the upper secondary level are widespread: pre-vocational schools and most of the mainly school-based VET programmes are under the responsibility of the education ministry. This ministry is responsible for tasks such as preparing important school legislation, elaborating framework curricula, selecting, paying and providing further training for teaching staff, and maintaining schools.

The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for building and maintaining five-year school-based VET programmes in agriculture and forestry and for selecting and paying teachers at these schools. The costs for teachers at three- to four-year VET schools of agriculture and forestry are shared equally by the Ministry of Agriculture and the provinces.

The education directorates in the provinces are responsible for enforcing school legislation, including quality assurance, school supervision and education control.

The competences for dual VET are within the spheres of the Ministry of Economy, which is responsible for the legal bases and content of the company-based part, and the Ministry of Education, which is responsible for the complementary school-based training (curricula, selection of staff).

The social partners are also involved significantly in the governance structure of apprenticeship training (designing the training regulations, carrying out the assessment procedures).

The funding of the company-based part of apprenticeship training is taken on by the training companies; State subsidies are also available. The school-based part is funded by the Ministry of Education. The costs of paying teachers are shared with the provinces. The Ministry of Agriculture and the provinces are responsible for dual VET in agriculture and forestry.

The health ministry is responsible for the legal basis of programmes in the healthcare sector. The provinces pay the teachers who are employed in these training establishments. Their construction and maintenance is also largely taken on by the provinces on behalf of the Federation.

For VET ([33]Cedefop (2018). Vocational education and training in Austria: short description [unpublished working paper].
) at the upper secondary level, the education ministry is responsible for paying teachers and providing further training for teaching staff, and maintaining schools.

The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible for building and maintaining five-year school-based VET programmes in agriculture and forestry and for selecting and paying teachers at these schools. The costs for teachers at schools of agriculture and forestry are shared equally by the Ministry of Agriculture and the provinces.

The funding of the company-based part of apprenticeship training is taken on by the training companies; State subsidies are also available. The school-based part is funded by the Ministry of Education. The costs of the paying teachers are shared with the provinces. The Ministry of Agriculture and the provinces are responsible for dual VET in agriculture and forestry.

Teachers in programmes in the healthcare sector are payed by the provinces. The construction and maintenance of the training establishments is also largely taken on by the provinces on behalf of the Federation.

The funding of CVET depends on what type of training is attended. In most cases, the costs of CET are borne by the participants and/or companies. There are, however, a number of measures (such as educational leave) and financial subsidies (in the form of grants and tax relief) in order to (partially) cover expenses. All these initiatives aim to serve as incentives to take part in CET in order to improve the companies’ economic situation and strengthen the CET participants’ position in the labour market.

Model calculation: Comparison of the public expenditure for IVET, per learner/apprentice for one year (2016)

Programme

Costs per person/apprenticeship place and year (in EUR)

Total public expenses per person/ apprenticeship place and year (in EUR)

Dual VET (company and VET school)

VET school: 4 927

State subsidies: 1 548

6 475

Supra-company training (training in a state-funded workshop and at VET school)

VET school: 4 927

PES: 12 018

Province: 1 148

18 092

School-based VET programmes

10 660

10 660

Source: Dornmayr/Nowak 2018 ([34]Dornmayr, H.; Nowak, S. (2018). Lehrlingsausbildung im Überblick 2018 - Strukturdaten, Trends und Perspektiven [Apprenticeship overview 2018: structural data, trends and perspectives]. Vienna: ibw research report; No 193.
https://ibw.at/bibliothek/id/481/. For more information on the model calculation, see p. 95ff.
).

VET has the following types of teacher:

  • general subject teachers (in school-based VET programmes, including VET schools of apprenticeship training);
  • VET-subject teachers (in school-based VET programmes, including VET schools of apprenticeship training;
  • IVET trainers (in-company trainer in apprenticeship training);
  • trainers (in adult learning centres).

Teachers

The training of teachers ([35]For detailed information about the training of teachers and trainers in Austria, see Eurypedia:
https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/teachers-and-education-staff-1_en and
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers
) changed when the Federal Act on the New Teacher Training Scheme came into force in July 2013. Since then, all teachers have been trained as part of tertiary bachelor and master programmes (ISCED 6 and 7) at universities and university colleges of teacher education.

The study offer for teachers at secondary level comprises the following two programmes:

  • teacher training programme for secondary general education programmes (ISCED 2 to 5): this programme qualifies graduates to teach learners aged between 10 and 19 years old in the general education subjects offered at a secondary level programme;
  • teacher training programme for secondary VET (ISCED 2 to 5): this programme qualifies graduates to teach learners aged between 14 and 19 years old in the VET subjects or packages of subjects of secondary VET chosen in the study programme.

 

All teacher training programmes require a one-semester introductory and orientation period (Studieneingangs- und Orientierungsphase or StEOP).

The master programme can be completed immediately after the bachelor programme. In any case, new teachers are accompanied by a mentor in their first year of service (one-year induction year). From 2029 it will no longer be possible to complete the master programme on a part-time basis.

IVET trainers:

As well as having a minimum age of 18 years, an IVET trainer needs to furnish proof of certain qualifications. This proof can take the form of the IVET trainer exam, the IVET trainer course, or a substitute for exam or course attendance (such as the master craftsperson exam, or completion of the industrial master college). Most IVET trainers carry out their training as part of their main work but larger companies often have full-time trainers.

IVET trainer courses are offered by the adult education establishments of the social partners. In 40 periods of instruction completed with an expert interview, they aim to impart the necessary pedagogical, psychological, training plan-related and training method-specific as well as legal knowledge and skills required for the training of apprentices. The course contents are the same as those of the IVET trainer exam.

CVET trainers:

There are no regulations on the required qualifications of trainers in adult learning centres/CVET provider institutions, though relevant know-how in the subject they teach is essential. In many cases these are individuals who practise a profession and impart relevant specialisations. Commercial and technological courses, for example, are taught by practitioners from business, and language classes by native speakers. Didactic skills are not required, but people with teaching practice are preferred. Trainers mainly exercise their profession in a self-employed capacity.

CPD for teachers:

According to the new Service Code (Dienst- und Besoldungsrecht) ([36]See
https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Dokument.wxe?Abfrage=BgblAuth&Dokumentnummer=BGBLA_2013_I_211
), all teachers – irrespective of the school at which they teach and which subject they teach – are obliged to undergo further development measures to improve their profession-oriented competences. By order they are required to attend in-service training events for up to 15 hours per school year while there are no lessons. In-service training programmes may be connected with absence from teaching only if in the significant interest of the service.

CPD events are primarily offered by university colleges of teacher education (PHs). Teachers can register for these events via the system ‘PH-Online’ in order (depending on the duration of the event) to be granted leave by the school management or the school supervision to attend this event.

CPD measures are financed by provincial funds. These funds are provided directly to the provider establishment so that participation is free of charge for the teachers.

CPD for trainers:

There is no CPD obligation for IVET trainers. However, CPD programmes are offered at adult education establishments; in some cases, in-house CET programmes are also available. In recent years so-called IVET trainer colleges (Ausbilderakademien) and IVET trainer forums have been set up in most Austrian provinces with the aim of providing CPD specifically for IVET trainers. For the most part they are coordinated by the regional economic chambers in cooperation with the respective chamber’s CET institution. Most of them offer certification in various stages. They also promote experience exchange and networking between IVET trainers. The latter is also the goal of regional and sector-specific get-togethers for IVET trainers.

The Economic Chamber funds measures related to the CPD of IVET trainers in their interaction with apprentices, such as pedagogy, didactics, personal development, diversity. A prerequisite for support is minimum participation of eight hours. The funding covers 75% of the course fees but no more than € 1 000 per trainer and calendar year.

Existing VET programmes are regularly developed, updated and adjusted to guarantee that VET is business- and labour-market-oriented. One major goal of this adjustment process is to achieve congruency between VET and employment as well as between qualification supply and demand, attempting to appraise future developments at an early stage and respond to them. In Austrian VET there are different anticipation processes that lead to curriculum adjustments. Major stakeholders in this process include the social partners, which can frequently support coordination between educational provision and qualification requirements and/or make statements on curriculum drafts. The outcomes of various analyses of qualification requirements are also considered in this process.

Mechanisms and processes to anticipate qualification requirements

The most important include:

  • skill needs studies: these are mostly conducted for specific sectors and industries (e.g. timber, IT), but also for regions (such as federal provinces) and education programmes (certain specialisations of colleges for higher vocational education, dual VET, etc.). The main beneficiaries of these studies are stakeholders in these sectoral/regional areas as well as staff responsible for the curriculum and other areas in the VET pathways that are of relevance for the specialisations;
  • skills barometer of PES Austria (AMS-QB) ([37]See
    http://www.ams.at/qualifikationsbarometer
    ): this online system, which was set up in 2002, summarises current and foreseeable labour market trends and qualification requirements and makes them accessible to the general public in a structured format via the internet. The AMS-QB uses existing written data (e.g. from skill needs studies) and information gathered in interviews with experts from the various occupational areas. Contents refer to the whole of Austria, and they are complemented by summary information presented for every province and analyses of job ads;
  • ’New skills’ activities: in 2009 a standing committee on news skills was founded at PES Austria. This committee, in which relevant ministries, the social partners and their CET provider establishments are represented, functions as advisory board for PES Austria in questions concerning the design of education offers within active labour market policy and the activities to be undertaken to identify future skills needs. Since the committee’s foundation, roundtable discussions have been held in which company experts from various vocational areas (such as HR) and education experts (e.g. representatives of providers) have discussed and exchanged information about current and future skills needs/trends. This should give providers a first-hand picture on skills requirements of the economy to be able to design or adjust their offers adequately. Besides these roundtable (group) discussions, one-to-one/in-depth expert interviews (mainly with key companies of a vocational area) have also been conducted. Other New skills activities have included presentations and information events, to inform learners, employers and CET interested people about skills requirements and trends. Since 2018 the New skills activities have focussed on the subjects ’digitalisation’ and ’Industry 4.0’.

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([38]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast) and European skills index ([39]https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/indicators/european-skills-index).

In the following, the processes during the development of curricula are presented for various VET programmes.

School-based VET

The educational objectives and content of VET schools at the upper secondary level are laid down in framework curricula. They are issued by the education ministry. Although the acquisition of professional competences has always been a key goal of VET, competences have been defined explicitly in the curricula since 2012 as a result of the development of the national qualifications framework and its orientation towards learning outcomes. The competence-oriented curricula specify the knowledge and skills that learners have acquired by the end of their training and which qualify them to act appropriately in different situations at work. As well as subject-related competences, interdisciplinary competences are also listed as they are considered of major importance in Austrian VET.

Initiatives towards curriculum reforms and/or the introduction of new subjects/area specialisations are launched by the education establishments themselves or by the Ministry of Education. In so-called curriculum steering groups and working groups, teachers and experts of the Ministry of Education, in collaboration with representatives of the economy, prepare draft curricula for the respective subjects. As well as a number of other institutions, the social partners also receive the drafts to issue their statements. In the implementation of the framework curricula, schools are entitled to change the number of lessons of individual sub-jects autonomously within a given framework or develop their own focuses, taking account of (regional) economic requirements.

Special curricula can be established for individual school locations as school pilot projects to be able to respond swiftly and flexibly to current developments such as in technology, society or on the labour market.

Dual VET (apprenticeship)

The training content for every apprenticeship occupation is laid down in training regulations (for the company-based part) and curricula (for the school-based part). The Ministry of Economy issues the in-company curriculum and the competence profile (the activity description formulating the competences which apprentices need to have acquired by the end of their training at the company and vocational school) as part of the training regulation. The initiative to modernise existing and develop new in-company curricula/competence profiles (new apprenticeship occupations) is usually launched by companies or the social partners. The Federal Advisory Board on Apprenticeship (BABB) – which comprises social partner representatives and advises the Ministry of Economy in dual VET issues – also introduces proposals or prepares expert opinions about possible reforms. The specific designing of in-company curricula/competence profiles, and the orientation towards current and future qualification requirements, is generally conducted by BBAB subcommittees or the education research institutes of the social partners, mainly ibw Austria – Research & Development in VET. Framework curricula for vocational schools within the framework of apprenticeship training are designed in a similar way to those for school-based VET. Framework curricula are laid down in analogy to company-based training.

Programmes at universities of applied sciences (UAS)

The initiative to modify existing or introduce new fields of study at UAS frequently comes from the business sphere. For the curriculum, which is prepared by a development team, an application for accreditation needs to be submitted to the Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria (AQ Austria). An important part of this application is proof that the economy has a demand for graduates and the planned degree programme can expect demand from potential participants. This proof can be furnished, for example, in the form of needs and acceptance analyses. The accreditation of a degree programme is granted for a maximum of six years by the Ministry of Education following a decision by AQ Austria. During that time it is possible to make necessary adaptations by submitting change applications. Upon expiry of this period, it is necessary to submit an application for reaccreditation, which follows the same rules as the initial accreditation.

Continuing vocational education and training (CVET)

CVET finds it easiest to adjust programmes to skills requirements and to respond to the economy’s needs most quickly. Providers often cooperate with professional organisations and companies to tailor their offers to needs. They also use the information from skills needs analyses and the results of the New skills activities.

Quality assurance in VET is a highly differentiated and permanent process.

The regular updating of curricula and training plans is a major part of quality assurance and many other measures are taken to maintain the attractiveness of VET among learners and companies and to safeguard the recognition of the qualifications.

The VET Quality Initiative (QIBB) for school-based VET ([40]See
http://www.qibb.at
) was introduced in 2004, setting up the framework conditions in a way that successful teaching and learning is guaranteed. For this purpose, processes have been defined and instruments introduced which enable systematic planning, observation, documentation, evaluation of and reflection on the quality of procedures and results ([41]With the Education Reform Act (Federal Law Gazette, I No 138/2017
https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Dokumente/BgblAuth/BGBLA_2017_I_138/BGBLA_2017_I_138.pdfsig), in force since autumn 2017, new regulations regarding quality assurance at schools have been introduced. This act foresees the establishment of a monitoring system which comprises quality management and resource controlling. QIBB is to be merged with SQA, the quality management system of general education schools, and further developed. First results of this extensive reform are to be expected for 2020.
).

Another major element of quality assurance at five-year school-based VET programmes is the partly standardised final examination, which was introduced in the school year 2015/16. It consists of standardised exams in the language of instruction (most often German, but also Slovene, Croatian and Hungarian), in applied mathematics and in a foreign language (English, French, Italian or Spanish). The assignments for these exams, as well as the duration and time of their implementation, are laid down centrally for the whole of Austria. The uniformly defined exam assignments and assessment criteria mainly aim to ensure the objectivity and reliability of the exam results and promote the transparency and comparability of the final exam.

In dual VET, many quality-assuring measures are carried out in addition to the regular adjustment of apprenticeship occupations to economic and technological developments. These measures include the accreditation of training companies: every company that wants to train apprentices is obliged to undergo an accreditation process. This consists of an examination by the apprenticeship office with the cooperation of the Chamber of Labour to check if the company meets the legal and corporate prerequisites for apprenticeship training to teach the knowledge and skills foreseen in the competence profile.

In 2013 the Ministry of Economy set up a clearing office for apprenticeship-leaving examinations at ibw Austria – Research and Development in VET ([42]See
http://www.ibw.at [accessed 23.4.2019].
). This office’s main task is to safeguard a uniform quality standard by examining the assignments of the apprenticeship-leaving examination, the evaluation guidelines and proposed solutions for compliance with the respective examination regulation, subject-related correctness, practical relevance and didactic quality. The apprenticeship-leaving examination is organised by the apprenticeship offices and is taken before a board of examiners. This ensures that training and validation are separated, which significantly contributes to objectivity and quality assurance.

Also in 2013 the quality management in apprenticeship training initiative (QML) was launched by the social partners with the objective of reducing the number of apprenticeship dropouts and increasing the success rate in apprenticeship-leaving examinations. The QML builds on annually evaluated indicators of apprenticeship dropouts, the number of those who (do not) attempt to take the apprenticeship-leaving examination as well as (un)successful apprenticeship-leaving exams. In the case of apprenticeship occupations where the dropout rate or the failure rate in the apprenticeship-leaving examination are relatively high, more in-depth analyses are carried out jointly with the competent sectoral representations to find the reasons as far as possible and take related measures (such as adapting the in-company curricula, improving career guidance, and measures to support apprentices including private tutoring or coaching, IVET trainer courses, and supporting materials for training companies).

Quality-assurance measures are also taken in the post-secondary and tertiary sectors, as in the definition and implementation of master craftsperson and proof of competence examinations. The main basis for this is formed by the European guidelines on quality assurance in higher VET ([43]UEAPME (ed.) (2018). European guidelines on quality assurance in higher VET.
https://www.ibw.at/bibliothek/id/356/
), which have been developed in analogy to the Standards and guidelines for quality assurance in the European higher education area (ESG) with substantial involvement of Austria.

Validation of non-formal and informal (prior) learning is a topic gaining international importance. In Austria, major importance is traditionally attached to formal education qualifications from the school-based, dual and higher education sectors. However, learning also increasingly takes place outside formal education in adult learning institutions, on the job, and within the framework of voluntary activities. Rapid changes on the labour market – due to technology and globalisation – require a formal pathway to be followed by the need to learn, brush up and deepen existing knowledge. To promote competence acquisition outside the formal education context and encourage lifelong learning, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, published a strategy to validate non-formal and informal learning in 2017 ([44]See
https://bildung.bmbwf.gv.at/euint/eubildung/vnfil.PDF [accessed 20.4.2019].
). This strategy introduces a framework for the further development, coordination and network formation of existing validation approaches. The goal is to promote quality and foster trust as well as enhance visibility and access to validation offers.

There are various incentives for VET learners (or their families) irrespective of the type of education and training they have chosen ([45]For more information about funding in education, see Eurypedia:
https://eacea.ec.europa.eu/national-policies/eurydice/content/funding-education-1_en
):

  • for learners who have reached full legal age and attend a school or HE institution, family allowance is prolonged and still granted until their 24th birthday; in certain cases this entitlement can be further prolonged;
  • learners for whom family allowance is received may apply to a public transport authority for free transport on the route between their home and school/training company (Schülerfreifahrt); in this case, they need to pay a flat-rate contribution of EUR 19.60 a year. Where no public means of transport is available, they may apply for a school or home commuting grant;
  • required school textbooks are provided to learners free of charge;
  • the Schooling Allowances Act (Schülerbeihilfengesetz) ([46]See
    https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung.wxe?Abfrage=Bundesnormen&Gesetzesnummer=10009531
    ) provides for the following three types of allowance:
  • school allowance is granted to learners from grade 10 onwards who attend an upper secondary programme and are in need of financial support;
  • boarding school and travel allowance (Heim- und Fahrtenbeihilfe) are offered to learners from grade 9 onwards, in case that they cannot stay in their parents’ house because the school location is too far away. Financial need must also be proven. The basic amounts of school allowance and boarding school allowance are EUR 1130 and EUR 1380 per year; they can be increased or reduced depending on financial needs. Travel allowance is EUR 105 per year. A further extraordinary allowance may be granted in cases of ‘social hardship’;
  • special allowance is granted to learners, who have been working for at least one year and for the last six months before their final exam, where they stop working to prepare for the exam.

In IVET, the following financial incentives are available for apprentices ([47]See
https://www.wko.at/service/bildung-lehre/Lehrlinge.html
):

  • apprentices can apply for state funding for attending a preparatory course for the apprenticeship-leaving examination (up to 100 % of the course fees);
  • the second or third attempt to sit the apprenticeship-leaving examination is free of charge (no examination fees or material costs);
  • language courses and foreign work placements organised within the Erasmus+ programme are part-funded by the state (EUR 15 per day).

Attending CVET programmes is financially supported (directly and indirectly) by the state, the provinces or municipalities. The social partners provide the following funding as do individual companies:

  • provinces and municipalities, as well as social partners, provide funding for course fees in various forms (education cheques, educational accounts, education vouchers). Preferred funding target groups are employees, young people, and those at a disadvantage on their respective regional labour markets;
  • companies often partly fund the CVET activities of their employers by providing direct funding or allowing their employers to attend courses during paid working hours;
  • PES Austria finances skills training and retraining measures within the framework of active labour market policies;
  • PES Austria is also responsible for the education leave scheme. Any employee who has been employed within the last twelve months for a minimum period of six months may take educational leave. During this, IVET or CVET as well as language courses may be attended, resumed or completed both in Austria and abroad. Written proof must be furnished that education measures of at least 16 to 20 weekly hours have been taken. During the leave period, subsidies are granted to the level of the unemployment benefit that the employee would get in the event of unemployment. There is a minimum and a maximum daily rate, depending on prior earnings;
  • employees have the possibility to write off costs as expenses for occupationally relevant CVET measures when filing their tax returns at the end of each year.

In 2008 a new funding scheme was introduced for training companies offering apprenticeship posts. This scheme is not only intended to increase the number of apprenticeship posts offered but also improve the quality of training. Within this funding scheme, there are various types of support ([48]See
https://www.wko.at/service/bildung-lehre/Gesamtuebersicht_Foerderarten_lehre.html
):

  • basic support (Basisförderung): every training company is entitled to basic support. This comprises three gross apprenticeship remunerations in line with the collective agreement in the first apprenticeship year, two in the second year, and one each in the third and fourth years. The training company can apply for basic support at the end of the respective apprenticeship year;
  • training alliances and additional VET courses: subsidies also cover inter-company and supra-company VET measures and the acquisition of competences which go beyond the in-company curriculum. Attending a preparatory course for the apprenticeship-leaving exam can also be funded;
  • apprenticeship for adults: the training of adults (18+) is funded if they are paid as unskilled workers, i.e. more than apprenticeship remuneration.
  • companies where apprentices pass the apprenticeship-leaving exam with good results or distinction can also apply for grants;
  • subsidies are also available for CET measures for IVET trainers;
  • financial means are also available for measures taken for apprentices with learning difficulties (such as tutoring courses).

Other benefits cover non-wage labour costs:

  • there are reduced rates for the company’s health insurance contribution for apprentices (3.35 % instead of 7.65 %) and for the unemployment insurance contribution (2.4 % instead of 6 %);
  • the contribution to accident insurance for apprentices is waived throughout the entire apprenticeship.

Public Employment Service Austria (AMS) also runs apprenticeship post support schemes designed to integrate problem groups into the labour market. Companies receive a flat-rate grant towards the costs of an apprenticeship. The grant includes the following categories of apprentice:

  • young women in apprenticeships with a low proportion of women (below 40%)
  • disadvantaged apprenticeship post seekers (young people who have mental or physical disabilities or emotional problems, learning deficits, or who are socially maladjusted)
  • adult apprentices (18+) with qualification/employment problems (e.g. dropouts)

In CVET, training providers can also receive subsidies in order to be able to offer courses free of charge. Two initiatives are relevant in connection to vocational training:

  • adult learning initiative ([49]See
    https://www.initiative-erwachsenenbildung.at/initiative-erwachsenenbildung/was-ist-das/
    ): financed by national and ESF means, the aim is to enable young people and adults to acquire basic skills (reading skills, basic skills in German or in another language, mathematical and digital skills) and the compulsory schooling qualification free of charge.
  • apprenticeship training and HE entrance exam ([50]See
    https://bildung.bmbwf.gv.at/schulen/bw/bm/index.html
    ): from autumn 2008 apprentices can attend preparatory courses for the Berufsreifeprüfung (HE entrance examination for graduates of NQF level 4 VET qualifications) and take the four partial exams free of charge.

There is considerable diversity of institutions, providers and initiatives in the field of information, counselling and guidance on learning and occupations. The main providers are the education institutions, the public employment service and the social partners. Counselling and guidance is offered at the following levels in education institutions:

(a) all schools of lower and upper secondary level offer counselling and guidance from the fifth school grade through counsellors and career guidance officers. They are available for schoolchildren and parents and provide information about possible education paths, access requirements, as well as the qualifications and entitlements to be acquired. They also give young people a basic overview of continuing education and training options. Guidance is conducted by teachers who have the relevant qualifications and who are termed, depending on the school type, school counsellor (Schülerberater/in) or education counsellor (Bildungsberater/in) and provide their counselling services in addition to their teaching activity. In the final two years of lower secondary level, career guidance is a compulsory subject totalling 32 hours a year. The aim of these lessons includes improving the learners’ decision-making competence, social skills, determination and perseverance. Short periods of work placement at companies and personal contacts with people from different occupations aim to help learners examine their career aspirations and take independent decisions;

(b) career guidance plays a particularly important role at prevocational schools as this school type is at the interface between obligatory and further schooling. Career guidance aims to inform learners and parents about regional possibilities in apprenticeship training and, in vocational guidance classes, prepares them for so-called real-life encounters (such as days of practical work experience) as well as important information events and job information fairs;

(c) in school-based VET programmes at upper secondary level (BMS and BHS) ([51]BMS (Berufsbildende mittlere Schule): school for intermediate vocational education; BHS (Berufsbildende höhere Schule): college for higher vocational education.) teachers with specialist qualifications also work as career guidance officers. Learners at BMS and BHS have already taken their first decision about their professional career. But, thanks to the good level of general education provided at schools, the entire range of professional development options is also open to them;

(d) most universities offer both psychological counselling offices and career planning centres, bodies which are within the sphere of responsibility of the science ministry. The psychological student counselling services at universities and university of applied sciences (Fachhochschule) offer general course guidance, psychological counselling, psychotherapy, aptitude diagnostics, coaching, and supervision, etc. to holders of the upper secondary school-leaving certificate and HE students. Career planning centres at universities support students on their entry into the world of work by offering one-to-one counselling, information events on topics such as job applications and CVs, as well as individualised career planning. The centres also organise seminars on areas such as presentation techniques, rhetoric and IT, as well as events such as careers fairs and company presentations;

(e) in the CET sector education counselling and career guidance is becoming increasingly important. This is particularly evident in the establishment of comprehensive education databases ([52]http://www.erwachsenenbildung.at ;
http://www.eduvista.com
), an Austria-wide platform for education counselling, and the merger of institutions to guarantee independent and supra-institutional information and guidance services. Major adult learning establishments, such as the institutions run by the social partners frequently offer their own guidance services. More than 60 career guidance centres (BIZ) of AMS offer comprehensive information about occupations, their contents and requirements, about initial education and training, CET paths, the labour market and employment options across Austria. Apart from information material in the form of brochures, information leaflets and videos, The Public Employment Service Austria (AMS) also develops information databases on occupations and on initial and continuing education and training programmes for different target groups ([53]Accessible online at
http://www.ams.at/berufsinfo
). For apprenticeship post seekers, AMS operates the online apprenticeship post platform http://www.ams.at/lehrstellen jointly with the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber.

EURES (European job mobility portal) advisors who are employed at AMS provide information about job offers and working conditions in other countries of the European Economic Area. Anyone who is interested can use the information and service offers provided by BIZ free of charge. Print media, videos and online databases are available for customers to obtain information themselves. For young people in need of career guidance there is a selection of tools (e.g. the compass for apprenticeship occupations, interest test). The advisors working at BIZ provide support in information search and are available for one-on-one counselling talks to assist in career and education decisions. BIZ also provides services for specific target groups (learners, teachers, parents) and on specific topics (career guidance, presentations of occupations, job applications, days of technology for girls). AMS offers one-on-one counselling talks for people registered as unemployed. These talks aim to match the jobseekers’ personal requirements, strengths and intentions with the situation on the labour market. There is also the possibility to take part in training programmes and courses (vocational guidance courses, training for job applications, job trials, skills training and qualification courses). In special cases, (young) women can take advantage of assistance in career choice, skills training and qualification. AMS also supports school-based information activities by means of a large number of brochures, career guidance films, occupational information and CET databases on the internet, and by organising events and trade fairs.

The different chambers offer education counselling and career guidance. The chambers of labour and trade unions provide these services mainly via their joint adult learning institutions: the vocational training institutes (bfi). They publish information material and organise information events. The counselling services of the economic chambers and their adult education institutions, the institutes for economic promotion (WIFIs), focus on IVET and CVET. These services are offered across Austria at several locations in the BIZ. With the career guidance tool ([54]http://www.bic.at) the economic chambers have their own web portal where job descriptions, VET and CVET options, tips on career choice and job applications, as well as a large variety of service materials, are offered, in some cases in several languages. The career guidance centres of the Economic Chambers provide comprehensive information material on a self-service basis and organise events geared towards the world of work, such as sector presentations, school and information events, as well as training for job applications. As well as information for groups (such as school classes), one-on-one counselling talks are also offered. The institutes for economic promotion’s career guidance officers offer individualised counselling services on the basis of comprehensive psychological testing procedures ([55]Tritscher-Archan, S. (2016). Vocational education and training in Europe – Austria. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2016/2016_CR_AT.pdf
).

Please see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

Add-on VET programmes

2-3 years

ISCED 554

Add-on VET programmes leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 554 (Aufbaulehrgänge) Add-on VET programmes provide in-depth general education and high-quality specialist training in different specialist areas including in technology, the business sphere, fashion and design, arts and crafts, tourism, agriculture and forestry as well as elementary pedagogy.
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

554

Usual entry grade

12

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

18

Usual completion age

20 to 21

Length of a programme (years)

From 2 to (mostly) 3 years

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

To access this programme, learners need to have an IVET qualification.

Is it continuing VET?

Y

The programme is accessible to adults with relevant IVET or professional experience.

Is it offered free of charge?

Y School programmes are financed by the public, school attendance is free of charge for the learners.

For schools of private provider organisations tuition fees need to be paid.

Is it available for adults?

Y

Add-on programmes lead graduates of intermediate (EQF 4) VET programmes (school-based and dual VET programmes) to the same qualification as obtained in five-year school-based VET programmes (berufsbildende höhere Schulen, BHS)

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • practice-oriented
  • learning in workshops and labs, training restaurants, and practice firms
  • mandatory work placements (except for programmes for people in employment)
  • project and diploma assignments as part of the final exam (often set by companies or carried out with their collaboration)([121]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
    http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8127_en.pdf
    )
Main providers

Most schools offering these post-secondary programmes are public schools, some are private schools with public status.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

30%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • learning in workshops and labs, training restaurants, and practice firms
  • mandatory work placements of several weeks during the summer months
  • project and diploma assignments as part of final exams that are often set by companies or carried out with their collaboration([122]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
    http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8127_en.pdf
    )
Main target groups

These programmes are mainly targeted at adults.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

The entry requirements are:

  • successful completion of initial VET (school-based or dual VET programme in the respective field);
  • VET graduates with a non-field related qualification have to attend a bridge course prior to entering an add-on course.
Assessment of learning outcomes
  • regular assessments (written, oral exams) during the school year in each subject
  • mid-term and end-of-term reports
  • HE entrance examination

If learners fail a subject (e.g. after the first year), they can take an exam at the beginning of the following year. If they fail more than three subjects, they have to repeat the entire class. If learners fail the Matura exam, they can re-do (parts of) it.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Reife- und Diplomprüfungszeugnis, i.e. HE entrance qualification and higher VET qualification (= double qualification)

The qualification is fully recognised by VET and labour authorities and highly appreciated by labour market and economy.

Examples of qualifications

After successfully completing an add-on programme, graduates can carry out higher-level tasks in the vocational field which the programme was about (i.e. in engineering, in management and service industries, in agriculture and forestry, in administration, etc.). Add-on programmes do not lead to specific professions. The qualification (Abschlusszeugnis) opens up a broad range of activities in a specific vocational field.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates:

  • obtain general access to tertiary education (studies at universities, universities of applied science and universities of teacher training);
  • can enter a range of CVET options;
  • can directly enter the labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Y

Key competences play a crucial role in all school types of the VET sector in Austria ([123]See Tritscher-Archan, S., Petanovitsch, A. (2016). Key competences in vocational education and training – Austria. Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspectives series.
https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/ReferNet_AT_KC.pdf
).

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

With the development of the National Qualifications Framework learning outcomes have been made more explicit in the curricula of all schools in the VET sector.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

Post-secVET

2-3 years

ISCED 554

Post-secondary VET school programmes leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 554 (Kollegs). Post-secondary school programmes provide high-quality specialist training in different specialist areas including in technology, the business sphere, fashion and design, arts and crafts, tourism, agriculture and forestry as well as elementary pedagogy.
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

554

Usual entry grade

12

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

18

Usual completion age

20 to 21

Length of a programme (years)

From 2 (mostly) to 3 years

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

The programmes are accessible to adults with a higher education entrance qualification.

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Kolleg programmes are financed by the public, attendance is free of charge for learners.

For programmes of private provider organisations tuition fees need to be paid.

Is it available for adults?

Y

Post-secondary VET school programmes lead graduates of general education programmes to the same qualification as obtained in five-year school-based VET programmes (berufsbildende höhere Schulen, BHS)

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • practice-oriented
  • learning in workshops and labs, training restaurants, and practice firms
  • mandatory work placements (except for programmes for people in employment)
  • project and diploma assignments as part of the final exam (often set by companies or carried out with their collaboration)([124]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
    http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8127_en.pdf
    )
Main providers

Most schools offering these tertiary programmes are public schools, some are private schools with public status.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

30%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • learning in workshops and labs, training restaurants, and practice firms
  • mandatory work placements of several weeks during the summer months
  • project and diploma assignments as part of final exams that are often set by companies or carried out with their collaboration([125]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
    http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8127_en.pdf
    )
Main target groups

These programmes are mainly targeted at adults.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Higher education entrance qualification

Assessment of learning outcomes
  • regular assessments (written, oral exams) during the school year in each subject
  • mid-term and end-of-term reports
  • diploma examination (Diplomprüfung)

If learners fail a subject (e.g. after the first year), they can take an exam at the beginning of the following year. If they fail more than three subjects, they have to repeat the entire class. If learners fail the Matura exam, they can re-do (parts of) it.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Diplomprüfungszeugnis

In combination with the higher education entrance qualification (Reifeprüfung), graduates of the post-secondary VET school programmes have the same qualification as graduates from five-year school-based VET programmes at upper secondary level (berufsbildende höhere Schule, BHS).

The qualification is fully recognised by VET and labour authorities and highly appreciated by labour market and economy.

Examples of qualifications

After successfully completing a post-secondary VET school programme, graduates can carry out higher-level tasks in the vocational field which the programme was about (i.e. in engineering, in management and service industries, in agriculture and forestry, in administration, etc.). Post-secondary VET school programmes do not lead to specific professions. The qualification (Abschlusszeugnis) opens up a broad range of activities in a specific vocational field.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates of post-secondary VET school programmes

  • obtain general access to tertiary education (studies at university, universities of applied science, universities of teacher training);
  • can enter a range of CVET options and
  • can directly enter the labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

General education subjects

Y

Key competences

Y

Key competences play a crucial role in all school types of the VET sector in Austria. ([126]See Tritscher-Archan, S.; Petanovitsch, A. (2016). Key competences in vocational education and training – Austria. Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspectives series.
https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/ReferNet_AT_KC.pdf
)

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

With the development of the National Qualifications Framework learning outcomes have been made more explicit in the curricula of all schools in the VET sector.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

Master craftsperson et al.

programmes

and qualifications

ISCED 554

Master craftsperson et al. programmes and qualifications offered at ISCED level 554. There are various programmes subsumed under this category: master craftsperson programme (Meisterschule); industrial master programme (Werkmeisterschule, WMS); building craftsperson programme (Bauhandwerkerschule).
EQF level
EQF: 6 (master craftsperson qualification); the other qualification in this VET programme category are not yet classified
ISCED-P 2011 level

554

Usual entry grade

12

Usual completion grade

13 to 14

Usual entry age

18

Usual completion age

19 to 20

Length of a programme (years)

From 1 to 2 years

Duration varies among the different specific programmes:

  • master craftsperson programmes: 1 to 2 years
  • industrial master programme: mostly 2 years
  • building craftsperson programme: mostly 2 years
  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

N

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • special tuition in theory and practice
  • instruction by experts from the specific professions/fields
  • some programmes are full-time, some are part-time
Main providers
  • CET providers of the social partners (e.g. WIFI, bfi)
  • public schools (offering also school-based VET programmes at upper secondary level)
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

60%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • learning in workshops and labs
  • focus on learning from real-work situations
Main target groups

These programmes target adults with relevant IVET qualifications plus professional practise and the intention of acquiring intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship competences.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)
  • minimum age of 18 years
  • successful completion of an initial VET path at upper secondary level
Assessment of learning outcomes
  • in industrial and building craftsperson programmes: final examination
  • graduates of master craftsperson programmes can sit the master craftsperson examination offered by Master Craftsperson Authorities
Diplomas/certificates provided

Final certificate (Abschlusszeugnis)

The qualifications are fully recognised by VET and labour authorities and highly appreciated by labour market and economy.

Examples of qualifications
  • industrial master
  • building craftsperson
Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can

  • directly enter the labour market (asset for improving in-company career options or changing companies);
  • set up one’s own company or take over a business;
  • can enter a range of CVET options;
  • on certain conditions can obtain access to a bachelor degree programmes at a University of Applied Science;
  • have access to the Berufsreifeprüfung (BRP) which grants access to higher education institutions.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Key competences play a crucial role in all school types of the VET sector in Austria ([127]See Tritscher-Archan, S.; Petanovitsch, A. (2016). Key competences in vocational education and training – Austria. Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspectives series.
https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/ReferNet_AT_KC.pdf
).

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

With the development of the National Qualifications Framework learning outcomes have been made more explicit in the curricula of all schools in the VET sector.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

Bachelor programmes

(FH)

3-4 years

ISCED 665

Bachelor programmes at Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschulen, FH) leading to EQF level 6, ISCED 665
EQF level
6
ISCED-P 2011 level

665

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

15+

Usual entry age

18+

Usual completion age

20+

Length of a programme (years)

From 3 to 4 years

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Yes and no

depending on the qualification obtained before entering a bachelor programme

Is it continuing VET?

Yes and no

depending on the qualification obtained before entering a bachelor programme

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

In general, bachelor programmes offered at Universities of Applied Sciences are financed by the public, so attendance is free of charge for the learners.

Providers of study programmes are, however, entitled by law to charge tuition fees (2019: 363.36 EUR per semester) ([130]https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung/Bundesnormen/10009895/FHStG%2c%20Fassung%20vom%2006.04.2017.pdf).

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • Bachelor programmes are research- and practice-oriented
  • a period of work placement is a mandatory part of the curriculum.
  • some are based on the dual principle, where theory and practice in enterprises alternate ([131]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
    http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8127_en.pdf
    )
Main providers

Universities of Applied Sciences

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

40 %

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • learning in workshops and labs
  • mandatory work placements
  • bachelor thesis is often set by companies or carried out with their collaboration
Main target groups

Bachelor programmes target adults with a higher entrance qualification (Matura). However, also graduates of intermediate VET programmes, which do not end with a HE entrance examination, can – under certain conditions (work experience, entrance examination) – enter bachelor programmes at UAS.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)
  • HE entrance qualification
  • work experience, if required
  • entrance examination, if required
Assessment of learning outcomes

A failed course or bachelor exam can be repeated twice. A single repetition of a study year is possible ([133]https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung/Bundesnormen/10009895/FHStG%2c%20Fassung%20vom%2006.04.2017.pdf [accessed 15.5.2019].).

Diplomas/certificates provided

A bachelor degree is given to learners who successfully completed their bachelor thesis and passed the bachelor examination.

The bachelor qualification is fully recognised by VET and labour authorities so graduates can follow further studies or enter the labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Qualifications in accordance to the specific study field.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can further progress to a master programme offered at ISCED level 767.

Destination of graduates

Information not available.

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

Master programmes

(FH)

1-2 years

ISCED 767

Master programmes at Universities of Applied Sciences (Master-Studiengänge an Fachhochschulen) leading to EQF level 7, ISCED 767
EQF level
7
ISCED-P 2011 level

767

Usual entry grade

16+

Usual completion grade

17+

Usual entry age

21+

Usual completion age

22+

Length of a programme (years)

From 1 to 2 years:

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

In general, master programmes offered at Universities of Applied Sciences are financed by the public, so attendance is free of charge for the learners.

Providers of study programmes are, however, entitled by law to charge tuition fees (2019: 363.36 EUR per semester) ([136]https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung/Bundesnormen/10009895/FHStG%2c%20Fassung%20vom%2006.04.2017.pdf).

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • Master programmes are research-oriented.
  • some programmes are based on the dual principle, where theory and practice in enterprises alternate ([137]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
    http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8127_en.pdf
    )
Main providers

Universities of Applied Sciences

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

20 %

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • learning in workshops and labs
  • master thesis is often set by companies or carried out with their collaboration
Assessment of learning outcomes

A failed course or master exam can be repeated twice. A single repetition of a study year is possible ([139]https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung/Bundesnormen/10009895/FHStG%2c%20Fassung%20vom%2006.04.2017.pdf).

Diplomas/certificates provided

Master thesis followed by a master examination before an exam commission/diploma

The Master qualification is fully recognised by VET and labour authorities and highly appreciated by labour market and economy.

Examples of qualifications

Qualifications in accordance to the specific study field ([140]https://www.abc.berufsbildendeschulen.at/vet-schools-and-higher-colleges-in-austria/)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can further progress to doctoral programmes.

Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

Post-secondary

Programme Types
Not available

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

Apprenticeships

WBL 80%

2-4 years

ISCED 354

Apprenticeship training leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (Lehrlingsausbildung)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

11 to 13

Usual entry age

15

Usual completion age

17 to 19

Length of a programme (years)

From two to four years, usually three years (two thirds of apprenticeship professions)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Apprenticeship starts after compulsory education. A prerequisite for taking up apprenticeship training is completion of nine years of compulsory schooling. About one third of apprentices complete this period by attending a one-year prevocational school.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Attendance at a vocational school for apprentices is free of charge. The training company is obliged to grant leave of absence to the apprentice for attending the programme offered at the vocational school while continuing to pay the apprenticeship remuneration. As compensation the company has the possibility to apply for public subsidies (‘basic funding’).

The training at the company is funded by the companies themselves. The young people are paid an apprenticeship remuneration by their employer; this is usually regulated in the (sectoral or company) collective agreement. As support for training companies, however, a number of public subsidies are available.

Is it available for adults?

Y

Around 23% start an apprenticeship at age 18 and above ([69]See statistics on page 23 of Dornmayr, H.; Nowak, S. (2018). Lehrlingsausbildung im Überblick 2018 [Apprenticeship overview, 2018]. Vienna: ibw. Research report; No 193.
https://ibw.at/bibliothek/id/481/
).

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • dual programmes consist of 80% workplace training in a company, 20% training in a vocational school
Main providers

Training companies (enterprises, free professions such as lawyers, and supra-company training providers on behalf of Public Employment Service Austria)

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

> 80%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

Apprenticeships as dual track training combine:

  • company-based training (80%);
  • attendance of VET school for apprentices (20%).
Main target groups

Apprenticeship training is accessible to young people and adults.

Apprenticeship training is also available for learners with special educational needs either by:

  • prolongation of the apprenticeship period by one or at maximum two years;
  • acquisition of a partial qualification.

Young people who are trained in a prolonged apprenticeship period are also obliged to attend a vocational school. The training is completed with the apprenticeship-leaving examination.

The acquisition of partial qualifications is restricted to selected competences of an in-company curriculum. There is also an obligation to follow a programme offered at a vocational school, the extent being adjusted to the individual situation of the apprentice. The final examination covers the previously determined competences. The level achieved is determined by professional experts and one member of the vocational training assistance. The partial qualification is accompanied by vocational training assistance; this aims to advise and support the training companies as well as the young people before and during the training.

Both forms of training are offered by training companies. (Young) people who do not find an apprenticeship post in a company, can complete apprenticeship training at supra-company training providers (überbetriebliche Berufsausbildung, ÜBA), which offer company-like conditions in workshops on behalf of the Public Employment Service Austria as part of active labour market policy. As for the school part, ÜBA-apprentices attend the regular VET school for apprentices.

People with migrant background made up less than 11% of all apprentices in 2017 ([70]Dornmayr, H.; Nowak, S. (2018). Lehrlingsausbildung im Überblick 2018, Strukturdaten, Trends und Perspektiven [Apprenticeship overview 2018: structural data, trends and perspectives]. Vienna: ibw. Research report; No 193
https://ibw.at/bibliothek/id/481/
).

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

The only entry requirement to enrol in apprenticeship training is the fulfilment of compulsory schooling (nine school years).

Assessment of learning outcomes

After fulfilling the apprenticeship period, apprentices normally register for the apprenticeship-leaving examination (Lehrabschlussprüfung / LAP).

This exam aims to establish whether the candidate has acquired the skills and competences required for the respective apprenticeship occupation and is able to carry out the activities specific to the occupation himself or herself in an appropriate manner.

The exam consists of a practical and a theoretical examination. Provided that the apprentice has met the education objectives of the last year of the programme offered at the vocational school, he is only required to do the practical part of the exam.

The subjects the exam covers are laid down in the national exam regulation (Prüfungsordnung) for each apprenticeship occupation ([71]See
https://www.bmdw.gv.at/Nationale%20Marktstrategien/LehrberufeInOesterreich/ListeDerLehrberufe/Seiten/liste.aspx [accessed 20.4.2019].
). If the candidate fails parts of his exam, he can retake these parts.

Diplomas/certificates provided

After passing the apprenticeship-leaving examination (Lehrabschlussprüfung / LAP) the graduate receives the apprenticeship diploma (Lehrabschlussprüfungszeugnis / LAP-Zeugnis).

It certifies that the holder has the skills and competences required for the respective apprenticeship occupation and is able to carry out the activities particular to the occupation himself or herself in an appropriate manner ([72]BMWFW (2014). Apprenticeship: dual vocational education and training in Austria: modern training with a future.
https://www.bmdw.gv.at/Nationale%20Marktstrategien/LehrlingsUndBerufsausbildung/Documents/HP_Die%20Lehre%20Englisch_2014_27%208.pdf
).

Apprenticeship diplomas are fully recognised by VET and labour authorities and highly appreciated in the labour market and economy.

All apprenticeship-leaving exams are assigned to EQF level 4 ([73]For more details, see the Austrian qualifications register:
https://www.qualifikationsregister.at/nqr-register/nqr-zuordnungen/
).

Examples of qualifications

In 2018, there were 218 state-recognised apprenticeship occupations ([74]Including 15 agricultural and forestry apprenticeships occupations. See: BMDW; WKO (2018). Lehrberufe in Österreich – Ausbildungen mit Zukunft. [Apprenticeship in Austria: training with a future ].
https://www.bic.at/downloads/de/broschueren/lehrberufe_in_oesterreich_2018.pdf
See also: ibw (2019). Lehrberufsbezeichnungen Deutsch-Englisch [Dual VET qualifications German-English].
https://ibw.at/bibliothek/id/278/
), such as brick layer, bank clerk, hotel and catering assistant or dental technician.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

After passing the apprenticeship-leaving examination, graduates can either remain in the labour market or acquire further qualifications:

  • master craftsperson or aptitude examination;
  • add-on courses (ISCED 554) (Aufbaulehrgänge) with a duration of three years that lead to the qualification of a five-year school-based VET programme (BHS);
  • higher entrance exam (Berufsreifeprüfung, BRP), which grants access to higher education programmes.
Destination of graduates

Apprenticeship training focusing on different specialist areas (construction, electronic engineering, information technology, wholesale and retail trade, etc.) aims at the acquisition of a vocational qualification at intermediate level.

For many, apprenticeship training is also the basis for a career as an entrepreneur. Around 35% of executives in business have completed apprenticeship training.

The education-related employment career monitoring (Erwerbskarrierenmonitoring, BibEr) of Statistics Austria done for the graduation year 2013/14([75]The aim of this project is to render the employment career statistically evaluable of all persons living in Austria after their leaving a formal educational institution. Especially the transition from education to the labour market represents an important chapter in the employment biography. The variety of attributes allows for analyses of various aspects of those careers at the start as well as during their further development on the labour market.
http://www.statistik.at/web_en/statistics/PeopleSociety/education_culture/monitoring_education_related_employment_behaviour/index.html
), analysed labour market status 18 months after graduation. Results show that graduates are primarily orientated to the labour market entry (compared to other education pathways):

  • 73% of the apprenticeship graduates were employed and only 5% continued in (formal) education;
  • approximately 12% were registered as jobseekers at the public employment service (AMS) ([76]For the remaining 10% no data are available. Dornmayr, H.; Nowak, S. (2018). Lehrlingsausbildung im Überblick 2018: Strukturdaten, Trends und Perspektiven [Apprenticeship overview 2018: structural data, trends and perspectives]. Vienna: ibw. Research report; No 193.
    https://ibw.at/bibliothek/id/481/See also http://www.statistik.at/web_de/statistiken/menschen_und_gesellschaft/bil...
    ).

This can be considered as positive indication of the job mobility of apprenticeship graduates due to a high labour demand for skilled workers and qualified specialists.

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

The Vocational Training Act (Berufsausbildungsgesetz, BAG) ([77]https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung.wxe?Abfrage=Bundesnormen&Gesetzesnummer=10006276) also opens access to the apprenticeship-leaving exam to those who have not completed any formal training (apprenticeship or school), providing them with the possibility of acquiring a formal professional qualification. In concrete terms, they must meet the following conditions:

  • be above 18 years old;
  • furnish evidence that they have acquired the knowledge and skills required for the respective apprenticeship occupation, such as by exercising a relevant semi-skilled or other practical activity of appropriate length or by attending a relevant course event;
  • completion of at least half of the period stipulated for the respective apprenticeship occupation is accepted as evidence if there is no other possibility of entering into an apprenticeship contract for the remaining apprenticeship period.

The 2011 amendment to the Vocational Training Act has extended access to the apprenticeship-leaving exam. The new regulation specifies that apprenticeship offices can arrange for the practical apprenticeship-leaving examination to be taken in two parts. The first part comprises identification of the exam candidate’s existing qualifications while in the second part he/she is required to prove the remaining skills. This provision applies if exam candidates

General education subjects

Y

The focus of education at vocational schools is on occupation-oriented specialist instruction (with about 65%), which also includes practical training in workshops and/or laboratories. The rest covers general subjects (such as German, mathematics) ([79]https://www.bmdw.gv.at/Nationale%20Marktstrategien/LehrlingsUndBerufsausbildung/Documents/HP_Die%20Lehre%20Englisch_2014_27%208.pdf).

Key competences

Y

The competence-oriented curricula specify the knowledge and skills that learners need to have acquired by the end of their training and which qualify them to act appropriately in different situations at work. As well as subject-related competences, related key competences are also listed which vary according to the specific apprenticeship training (e.g. team work, digital and entrepreneurial sills). At least one foreign language is mandatory in all programmes. Key competences are considered of major importance in the VET sector.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

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. Although the acquisition of professional competences has always been a key goal of VET, competences have been defined explicitly in the curricula since 2012; this is a result of the development of the national qualifications framework and its orientation towards learning outcomes ([80]Tritscher-Archan, S. (2016). Vocational education and training in Europe – Austria. Cedefop ReferNet VET in Europe reports.
http://libserver.cedefop.europa.eu/vetelib/2016/2016_CR_AT.pdf
).

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Allocation of learners at upper secondary level / 10th school grade (2016/17) ([81]Statistics Austria (2018). Bildung in Zahlen 2016/17, Tabellenband [Education in numbers: 2016/17]. Vienna: Statistics Austria.
https://www.statistik.at/web_de/services/publikationen/5/index.html?includePage=detailedView&sectionName=Bildung&pubId=509
):

36%: apprenticeship programmes;

13%: one to four-year school-based VET programmes (intermediate level);

27%: five-year school-based VET programmes (higher level);

24%: general education programme.

School-based VET programmes

1-2 years

ISCED 351

School-based VET programmes (berufsbildende mittlere Schulen, BMS), leading to ISCED 351. These programmes are offered as one- to two-year programmes, which primarily aim to provide pre-professional qualifications rather than a full VET qualification. These programmes focus on areas such as hospitality services, agriculture, nutrition, social activities, etc. They serve as preparation for certain apprenticeship trades or as bridge courses to VET programmes which require a certain entry age (e.g. health programmes which can only be accessed at the age of 17).
EQF level
Not yet assigned to the NQF
ISCED-P 2011 level

351

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

9 to 10

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

15-16

Length of a programme (years)

From 1 to 2 years

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

The compulsory E & T age is 15. Obligatory schooling covers a period of nine years (i.e. from 6 years until 15 years). One- to two-year school-based pre-VET programmes are usually attended by 14 to 16-year old learners.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

These programmes include general education, basic vocational competences and key competences which prepare learners for more specific VET pathways (at upper secondary schools or in dual training) and for simple tasks on the labour market.

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

These programmes are financed by the public, school attendance is free of charge for learners.

Is it available for adults?

Y

These programmes can also be attended by adults. However, most of the learners are between 14 and 16 when they attend these schools ([65]Statistics Austria:
https://www.statistik.at/web_de/statistiken/menschen_und_gesellschaft/bildung_und_kultur/formales_bildungswesen/schulen_schulbesuch/index.html [accessed 7.5.2019].
).

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

One- to two-year pre-VET programmes are

  • full-time and
  • practice-oriented.
Main providers

Public schools (and a few private schools)

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

20%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • practice-oriented tuition (e.g. in workshops at school, in school kitchens etc.)
  • practical experiences (e.g. work shadowing, company tours, company-based practical days)
Main target groups

Most learners enter these programmes at the age of 14. However, they are also open for adults.

People with migrant background (non-German first language) made up 27% of all school-based VET programmes learners (one to two-year programmes plus three to four-year programmes) in the school year 2016/17. ([66]BMBWF (2018). Statistical guide 2017: key facts and figures about schools and adult education in Austria. Vienna: BMBWF.
https://bildung.bmbwf.gv.at/schulen/bw/ueberblick/zahlenspiegel_2017.pdf?6mfso8
)

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

The entry requirements are

  • positive completion of the eight grade,
  • a minimum age of 14 years.
Assessment of learning outcomes
  • regular assessments (written, oral exams) during the school year in each subject
  • mid-term and end-of-term reports
Diplomas/certificates provided

School leaving certificate (Abschlusszeugnis)

The certificates of the one- to two-year pre-VET programmes are recognised by VET and labour authorities, i.e. graduates can enter further education programmes or the labour market for carrying out simple tasks.

Examples of qualifications

These one- and two-year school-based VET programmes prepare learners for carrying out simple tasks on the labour market in different areas such as hospitality services, agriculture, nutrition, social activities, etc. The programmes take place in respective schools such as Schools of Social Care Professions (Schulen für Sozialbetreuungsberufe) ([67]https://www.abc.berufsbildendeschulen.at/vet-schools-and-higher-colleges-in-austria/).

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates may progress to

  • dual VET programmes;
  • school-based VET programmes (three- to four-year programmes and five-year programmes);
  • postsecondary/tertiary VET programmes (e.g. healthcare);
  • CVET programmes;
  • training programmes within the ‘training obligation until 18’;
  • labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

These programmes include both general-education and subject-specific classes in different specialist areas.

Key competences

Y

One of the key aims of these programmes is to develop and foster key competences in all subjects and through various teaching methods (project work, open forms of teaching, etc.).

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

With the development of the National Qualifications Framework learning outcomes have been made more explicit in the curricula of all VET programmes.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Allocation of learners at upper secondary level / 10th school grade (2016/17): ([68]Statistics Austria (2018). Bildung in Zahlen 2016/17, Tabellenband [Education in numbers: 2016/17]. Vienna: Statistics Austria.
https://www.statistik.at/web_de/services/publikationen/5/index.html?includePage=detailedView&sectionName=Bildung&pubId=509
)

36%: dual VET programmes

13%: one to four-year school-based VET programmes (intermediate level)

27%: five-year school-based VET programmes (higher level)

24%: general education

Pre-VET (PTS)

1 year

ISCED 341

Pre-VET programme (Polytechnische Schule, PTS), leading to ISCED 341
EQF level
Not yet assigned to the NQF
ISCED-P 2011 level

341

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

9

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

15

Length of a programme (years)

1 year

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

The compulsory E & T age is 15. Obligatory schooling covers a period of nine years (i.e. from 6 years until 15 years). The pre-VET programme is accessible to learners from age 14.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

The pre-VET programme offers both general-education and subject-specific classes in different specialist areas. Every learner is obliged to choose one specialist area from all areas offered at the respective school location. In principle, there are six specialist areas (metal, electronic engineering, construction, wood, wholesale and retail trade/office, services/tourism), with every school being entitled to offer other specialist areas autonomously while taking the needs of the local economy into account (e.g. mechatronics, healthcare and social affairs). A mix of theoretical information and practical experiences (e.g. as part of company tours and days of company-based practice in training workshops or companies, or as part of practical work experiences in classes) aims to help learners to become familiar with the world of work and additionally provide them with targeted orientation and preparation for their future profession, which they still need to choose.

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

However, 96 % (2017) are 14 when they start the pre-VET programme ([58]Statistics Austria:
https://www.statistik.at/web_de/statistiken/menschen_und_gesellschaft/bildung_und_kultur/formales_bildungswesen/schulen_schulbesuch/index.html [accessed 7.5.2019].
).

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • one-year full-time school-based programme
  • covers theoretical teaching and practical experiences (e.g. as part of company tours and days of company-based practice in training workshops or companies, or as part of practical work experiences in classes);
  • career guidance plays a particularly important role be-cause this school type is at the interface between obligatory and further schooling
Main providers

Public schools

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

20%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • a mix of theoretical teaching and
  • practical experiences (e.g. as part of company tours and days of company-based practice in training workshops or companies, or as part of practical work experiences in classes)
Main target groups

Programme is accessible to young people and adults. People with migrant background (non-German first language) made up 33% of all learners who followed this pre-VET programme in the school year 2016/17 ([59]BMBWF (2018). Statistical guide 2017: key facts and figures about schools and adult education in Austria. Vienna: BMBWF.
https://bildung.bmbwf.gv.at/schulen/bw/ueberblick/zahlenspiegel_2017.pdf?6mfso8
).

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

For entering this programme learners need to have completed eight school years.

Assessment of learning outcomes
  • regular assessments (written, oral exams) during the school year in each subject
  • mid-term and end-of-term reports
  • if a learner fails a subject (i.e. receives a ‘not sufficient’ in the end-of-term report, i.e. performance does not meet minimum pass level) he can (voluntarily) repeat the school year to get a positive certificate. In case the learner does not repeat the school year, he has to attend another training programme until the age of 18 (training obligation until 18)
Diplomas/certificates provided

School leaving certificate (Abschlusszeugnis)

On successful completion of this programme, learners receive the certificate, which is recognised by VET and labour market authorities as graduates can enter further education programmes or the labour market for carrying out simple tasks.

Examples of qualifications

With a certificate of this pre-VET programme holders can enter the labour market to carry out simple tasks.

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can progress to

  • further education programmes at upper secondary level (general education and VET);
  • CVET programmes;
  • training programmes within the ‘training obligation until 18;
  • labour market (for carrying out unskilled work).
Destination of graduates

According to Statistics Austria (2016/17) ([60]Statistics Austria (2018). Bildung in Zahlen 2016/17, Tabellenband [Education in numbers: 2016/17]. Vienna: Statistics Austria.
https://www.statistik.at/web_de/services/publikationen/5/index.html?includePage=detailedView&sectionName=Bildung&pubId=509
), graduates choose the following options:

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

It offers both general-education and subject-specific classes in different specialist areas.

Key competences

Y

One of the key aims of the programme is to develop and foster key competences in all subjects and through teaching methods (project work, open forms of teaching, etc.) ([63]See curriculum of PTS:
https://pts.schule.at/fileadmin/Polytechnische_Schule/Lehrplan_Fachbereichsinfos/PTS_Lehrplan-2012_Auflage_2018.pdf
).

Application of learning outcomes approach

N

The curriculum is currently under revision. One aim of this curriculum reform is to introduce learning outcomes. However, also the present curriculum foresees competences which learners should acquire. Nevertheless, as a result of the development of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), which was formally introduced in 2016, competences/learning outcomes have to be defined explicitly in all new curricula.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Allocation of learners at upper secondary level / 9th school grade (2016/17) ([64]Statistics Austria (2018). Bildung in Zahlen 2016/17, Tabellenband [Education in numbers: 2016/17]. Vienna: Statistics Austria.
https://www.statistik.at/web_de/services/publikationen/5/index.html?includePage=detailedView&sectionName=Bildung&pubId=509
):

17%: pre VET programme 16%: one to four-year school-based VET programmes at intermediate level

37%: five-year school-based VET programmes (higher level)

28%: general education

2%: special needs school/inclusive education

School-based VET (BMS)

WBL 40%

3-4 years

ISCED 354

School-based VET programmes offered at intermediate vocational schools (berufsbildende mittlere Schulen, BMS) leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354. The three- to four-year VET programmes offered at intermediate vocational schools aim to impart full VET qualifications that entitle graduates to immediately exercise professional activities at intermediate qualification level/skilled worker’s level. These programmes are offered in different specialist areas, including in technology, the business sphere, fashion, tourism, agriculture and forestry and in the social sphere.
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

11 to 12

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

17 to 18

Length of a programme (years)

From 3 to 4 years

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

The compulsory E & T age is 15. Obligatory education covers a period of nine years (i.e. from 6 years until 15 years). Learners can start the three- to four-year BMS programmes at age 14, so in this case it still covers compulsory education.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

These programmes are financed by the public, school attendance is free of charge for the learners.

Is it available for adults?

Y

These programmes can also be attended by adults. However, most of the learners are between 14 and 17 when they enter these programmes. ([82]Statistics Austria: https://www.statistik.at/web_de/statistiken/menschen_und_gesellschaft/bildung_und_kultur/formales_bildungswesen/schulen_schulbesuch/index.html [accessed 7.5.2019].
)

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Three- to four-year VET programmes at intermediate level are:

  • offered full-time at VET schools;
  • practice-oriented tuition (e.g. learning in workshops and labs) in some fields;
  • obligatory work placements during the summer months,
  • in technical three and a half-year programmes; (Fachschulen mit Betriebspraktikum): obligatory work placement in the last semester ([83]BMBWF - The educational offer of technical, commerce, arts and crafts schools:
    https://bildung.bmbwf.gv.at/schulen/bw/bbs/tgkg.html
    ).
Main providers

Most of these intermediate vocational schools are public schools, some are private schools with public status.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

40%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • learning in workshops and labs
  • work placements during the summer months and in some fields also during the tuition period
Main target groups

These school-based VET programmes are accessible to young people and adults. For people in employment programmes are organised in the evening.

People with migrant background (non-German first language) made up 27% of all BMS learners (one to two years programme plus three- to four-year programmes) in school year 2016/17 ([84]BMBWF (2018). Statistical guide 2017: key facts and figures about schools and adult education in Austria. Vienna: BMBWF.
https://bildung.bmbwf.gv.at/schulen/bw/ueberblick/zahlenspiegel_2017.pdf?6mfso8
).

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

The entry requirements are

  • positive completion of the eight grade;
  • depending on previous qualifications (e.g. obtained at new secondary school or the lower cycle of academic secondary school), the desired programme type and places on offer, previous educational performance (i.e. the marks achieved in the main subjects) or an entrance examination are additional selection criteria;
  • minimum age of 14 years.
Assessment of learning outcomes
  • regular assessments (written, oral exams) during the school year in each subject
  • mid-term and end-of-term reports
  • qualification exam
  • if learners fail a subject (e.g. after the first year), they can take an exam at the beginning of the following year. If they fail more than three subjects, they have to repeat the entire class. If learners fail the qualification exam, they can re-do it.
Diplomas/certificates provided

School leaving certificate (Abschlusszeugnis)

The school leaving certificates are fully recognised by VET and labour authorities and highly appreciated by labour market and economy.

Examples of qualifications

Three- and four-year programmes for intermediate vocational education providing professional education in different specialist areas (business, technology, agriculture, social affairs, tourism, etc.) lead to professional qualifications at the intermediate level. Programmes can be offered, e.g.at :

  • Schools of Engineering, Arts and Crafts (Technische, gewerbliche und kunstgewerbliche Fachschulen)
  • Schools of Agriculture and Forestry (Land- und forstwirtschaftliche Fachschulen)
  • Schools of Business Administration (Handelsschule)
  • Schools of Management and Services Industries (Fachschule für wirtschaftliche Berufe)
  • Schools of Tourism (Fachschulen für Tourismus) ([85]https://www.abc.berufsbildendeschulen.at/vet-schools-and-higher-colleges-in-austria/
    )
Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates have the following progression possibilities:

  • add-on programmes
  • post-secondary VET courses
  • Berufsreifeprüfung: exam for people whose initial VET does not automatically qualify them for entry into higher education
  • dual VET programmes
  • subject specific CVET options (e.g. master craftsperson examination, aptitude examination, industrial master school etc.)
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

N

General education subjects

Y

The curricula and training contents focus on deepening of general education and VET at intermediate qualification level.

Key competences

Y

Key competences play a crucial role in all programme types of the VET sector in Austria ([86]See Tritscher-Archan, S., Petanovitsch, A. (2016). Key competences in vocational education and training – Austria. Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspectives series. https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/ReferNet_AT_KC.pdf
).

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Although the acquisition of professional competences has always been a key goal of VET in Austria, competences have been defined explicitly in the curricula since 2012 – which is a result of the development of the National Qualifications Framework and its orientation towards learning outcomes.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Allocation of learners at upper secondary level / 10th school grade (2016/17) ([87]Statistics Austria (2018). Bildung in Zahlen 2016/17, Tabellenband [Education in numbers: 2016/17]. Vienna: Statistics Austria.
https://www.statistik.at/web_de/services/publikationen/5/index.html?includePage=detailedView&sectionName=Bildung&pubId=509
):

36%: apprenticeships

13%: one to four-year school-based VET programmes (intermediate level)

27%: five-year school-based VET programmes (higher level)

24%: general education

School based (BHS)

WBL 30%

5 years

ISCED 354/554

School based VET programmes offered at colleges for higher vocational education (berufsbildende höhere Schulen / BHS), leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 354/554. Programmes provide in-depth general education and high-quality specialist training in different specialist areas including in technology, the business sphere, fashion and design, arts and crafts, tourism, agriculture and forestry as well as elementary pedagogy. This programme type belongs to the upper secondary level. In ISCED, however, it is divided between two levels: the first three years are classified as ISCED 354 (no interim qualification is offered at this level), year four and five are classified as ISCED 554.
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

ISCED 354 (programme duration 1-3 years)

ISCED 554 (programme duration 4-5 years)

Usual entry grade

9

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

14

Usual completion age

19

Length of a programme (years)

5 years

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

Y

The compulsory E & T age is 15. Obligatory education covers a period of nine years (i.e. from 6 years until 15 years). These school-based VET programmes are usually attended by learners between 14 and 19.

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

These five-year VET programmes leading to higher VET and HE entrance qualification are financed by the public, school attendance is free of charge for learners.

Is it available for adults?

Y

The degree obtained at a college for higher vocational education (berufsbildende höhere Schulen / BHS) can, as an alternative to the five-year day form, also be acquired by way of three other education programmes:

  • add-on courses (ISCED 554, Aufbaulehrgang): these modular courses usually cover three years and lead graduates of intermediate VET tracks (from schools and dual VET) to the BHS qualification. Learners with non-subject-specific VET qualifications have to attend a one- to two-semester bridge course (Vorbereitungslehrgang) before entering an add-on course;
  • post-secondary VET courses (ISCED 554, Kollegs): Kollegs mainly target graduates of general education schools, i.e. people who have not completed an initial VET pathway. A prerequisite for admission to Kollegs is successful completion of the HE entrance examination. Kollegs are provided in a modular two-year day form or a three-year evening form and are completed with a qualification examination;
  • courses offered at colleges for higher vocational education for people in employment (ISCED 554, BHS for professionals): this programme type, which is organised in the evening, leads to a BHS-qualification. Access requirements are a minimum age of 17 years and active employment.
ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Five-year VET programmes leading to higher VET and HE entrance qualification:

  • are full-time and practice-oriented,
  • include learning in workshops and labs, training restaurants, and practice firms,
  • are complemented by mandatory work placements of several weeks during the summer months,
  • comprise project and diploma assignments as part of the final exam that are often set by companies or carried out with their collaboration([88]Cedefop (2018). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Austria. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
    http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8127_en.pdf
    ).
Main providers

Most colleges for higher vocational education (berufsbildende höhere Schulen / BHS) are public schools, some are private school with public status.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

30%

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • learning in workshops and labs, training restaurants, and practice firms
  • mandatory work placements of several weeks during the summer months
  • project and diploma assignments as part of final exams that are often set by companies or carried out with their collaboration
Main target groups

Five-year VET programmes leading to higher VET and HE entrance qualification are accessible to young people and adults (e.g. for people in employment organised in the evening.

People with migrant background (non-German first language) made up nearly 19% of all school-based higher VET programmes learners in school year 2016/17 ([89]BMBWF (2018). Statistical guide 2017: key facts and figures about schools and adult education in Austria. Vienna: BMBWF.
https://bildung.bmbwf.gv.at/schulen/bw/ueberblick/zahlenspiegel_2017.pdf?6mfso8
).

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

The entry requirements are:

  • positive completion of the eight grade;
  • depending on previous qualifications (e.g. programmes offered at new secondary school or at the lower cycle of academic secondary school), the desired programme type and places on offer, previous educational performance (i.e. the marks achieved in the main subjects) or an entrance examination are additional selection criteria;
  • a minimum age of 14 years.
Assessment of learning outcomes
  • regular assessments (written, oral exams) during the school year in each subject
  • mid-term and end-of-term reports
  • higher education entrance examination ([90]See https://www.refernet.at/images/02_News_AT_RDP_neu_05_2016_EN.pdf [accessed 8.5.2019].
    )
  • if learners fail a subject (e.g. after the first year), they can take an exam at the beginning of the following year. If they fail more than three subjects, they have to repeat the entire class. If learners fail the Matura exam, they can re-do (parts of) it
Diplomas/certificates provided

Graduation with a Reife- und Diplomprüfungszeugnis, i.e. HE entrance qualification and higher VET qualification (= double qualification).

The qualification is fully recognised by VET and labour authorities and highly appreciated by labour market and economy.

Examples of qualifications

Five-year VET programmes leading to higher VET and HE entrance qualification are available in different areas which are offered by different providers, e.g.:

  • Colleges of Engineering, Arts and Crafts (Höhere technische, kunstgewerbliche und gewerbliche Lehranstalten)
  • Colleges of Business Administration (Handelsakademien)
  • Colleges of Management and Service Industries (Höhere Lehranstalten für wirtschaftliche Berufe)
  • Colleges of Agriculture and Forestry (Höhere Land- und Forstwirtschaftliche Schulen)
  • Colleges for Elementary Pedagogy (Bildungsanstalten für Elementarpädagogik) ([91]https://www.abc.berufsbildendeschulen.at/vet-schools-and-higher-colleges-in-austria/
    )
Progression opportunities for learners after graduation
  • graduates obtain general access to postsecondary and tertiary education (studies at university, UAS, universities of teacher training).
  • they can also enter a range of CVET options.
  • they can also directly enter the labour market.
Destination of graduates

Information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

General education subjects

Y

Programmes provide in-depth general education and high-quality specialist training in different specialist areas

Key competences

Y

Key competences play a crucial role in all programme types of the VET sector in Austria ([92]See Tritscher-Archan, S., Petanovitsch, A. (2016). Key competences in vocational education and training – Austria. Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspectives series. https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/ReferNet_AT_KC.pdf
).

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

With the development of the National Qualifications Framework learning outcomes have been made more explicit in the curricula of all VET programmes.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Allocation of learners at upper secondary level / 10th school grade (2016/17) ([93]Statistics Austria (2018). Bildung in Zahlen 2016/17, Tabellenband [Education in numbers: 2016/17]. Vienna: Statistics Austria.
https://www.statistik.at/web_de/services/publikationen/5/index.html?includePage=detailedView&sectionName=Bildung&pubId=509
):

36%: apprenticeship

13%: one to four-year school-based VET programmes (intermediate level)

27%: five-year school-based VET programmes (higher level)

24%: general education

Healthcare

1-3 years

ISCED 351, 353

Healthcare programmes leading to ISCED 351, 353. Following specific programmes are offered in the field of healthcare: Care assistance programmes: care assistance programme, level 1 (Pflegeassistenz); care assistance programme, level 2 (Pflegefachassistenz). Medical assistance programmes: disinfection assistance (Desinfektionsassistenz); plastering assistance (Gipsassistenz); laboratory assistance (Laborassistenz); mortuary assistance (Obduktionsassistenz); operating theatre assistance (Operationsassistenz); surgery assistance (Ordinationsassistenz); radiology assistance (Röntgenassistenz); medical assistance (Medizinische Fachassistenz)
EQF level
Not yet assigned to the NQF
ISCED-P 2011 level

Care assistance programmes: 351

Medical assistance programmes: 353

Usual entry grade

10 to 11

Care assistance programmes:

  • care assistance programme, level 1: 10
  • care assistance programme, level 2: 11

Medical assistance programmes: 10

Usual completion grade

10 to12

Care assistance programmes:

  • care assistance programme, level 1: 10
  • care assistance programme, level 2: 12

Medical assistance programmes: 10-12

Usual entry age

16 to 17

Care assistance programme, level 1: 16

Care assistance programme, level 2: 17

Medical assistance programmes: 16

Usual completion age

18 to 19

Length of a programme (years)

From 1 to 3 years

Care assistance programmes:

Medical assistance programmes:

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

concerning the care assistance programme, level 1

Yes and no, concerning the care assistance programme, level 2 and the medical assistance programme.

Is it continuing VET?

Yes and no, concerning the care assistance programme, level 2 and the medical assistance programmes.

Is it offered free of charge?
  • programmes offered in public schools are financed by the public, attendance is free of charge for the learners
  • training courses for adults offered by different providers are fee-based with different funding opportunities
Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Theoretical instruction in schools/training courses and work placements in hospitals etc. alternate during the entire training.

Main providers

Care assistance programmes:

  • public schools for healthcare (mostly at hospitals);
  • public schools for social professions;
  • different providers offering training courses for adults (also upskilling programmes).

Medical assistance programmes:

  • public schools for medical assistant professions;
  • different providers offering training courses for adults.
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies
Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

Theoretical instruction in schools/training courses and work placements in hospitals etc. alternate during the entire training.

Main target groups

Programmes are open to young people, adults and unemployed (training courses financed by the Public Employment Service).

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Entry requirements differ among the specific programmes:

Care assistance, level 1:

Care assistance, level 2:

Medical assistance programmes:

Assessment of learning outcomes

Ongoing und regular assessment during the programme.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Care assistance, level 1:

  • final exam before an examination commission / certificate

Care assistance, level 2:

  • final exam before an examination commission / certificate

Medical assistance programmes:

  • final exam before an examination commission / certificate

The qualifications are fully recognised by VET and labour authorities and highly appreciated by labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Care assistance programmes:

  • care assistant (Pflegeassistent/in)
  • (special) care assistant (Pflegefachassistent/in)

Medical assistance programmes:

  • disinfection assistance (Desinfektionsassistenz)
  • plastering assistance (Gipsassistenz)
  • laboratory assistance (Laborassistenz)
  • mortuary assistance (Obduktionsassistenz)
  • operating theatre assistance (Operationsassistenz)
  • surgery assistance (Ordinationsassistenz)
  • radiology assistance (Röntgenassistenz)
  • medical assistance (Medizinische Fachassistenz)
Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates of care and medical assistance programmes can progress to:

Graduates of level 2 of the care assistance programme can additionally take the:

Destination of graduates

information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

Competences acquired non-formally or informally must be validated by the principle of the school or the head of the training provider offering care/medical assistance programmes by way of procedures accepted by the health ministry ([106]https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung and https://www.sozialministerium.at/cms/site/attachments/0/8/1/CH4043/CMS1538051085664/gesundheitsberufe_2019.pdf/Bundesnormen/20009672/PA-PFA-AV%2c%20Fassung%20vom%2009.05.2019.pdf).

For care assistance programmes, level 1: the duration of the training course is reduced for persons who successfully completed studies of human medicine or dental medicine: 680 hours ([107]https://www.sozialministerium.at/cms/siteEN/attachments/9/0/5/CH4138/CMS1411979671365/healthcareprofessions_in_austria_2017.pdf).

General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Key competences play a crucial role in all school types of the VET sector in Austria ([108]See Tritscher-Archan, S., Petanovitsch, A. (2016). Key competences in vocational education and training – Austria. Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspectives series.
https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/ReferNet_AT_KC.pdf
).

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

With the development of the National Qualifications Framework learning outcomes have been made more explicit in the curricula of all schools in the VET sector.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Information not available

Nursing

3 years

ISCED level 454

Nursing programme leading to ISCED level 454 (Diplomierte/r Gesundheits- und Krankenpfleger/in, GuK)
EQF level
Not yet assigned to the NQF
ISCED-P 2011 level

454

This programme is being upgraded at the moment. Until the end of 2023 this secondary-level programme will be transferred into a tertiary bachelor’s programme offered at universities of applied sciences ([109]https://www.sozialministerium.at/cms/siteEN/attachments/9/0/5/CH4138/CMS1411979671365/healthcareprofessions_in_austria_2017.pdf)

Usual entry grade

11

Usual completion grade

13

Usual entry age

17

Usual completion age

20

Length of a programme (years)

3 years (4 600 hours)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

Y

(for adults with relevant IVET or professional experience)

Is it offered free of charge?

School programmes are financed by the public, school attendance is free of charge for the learners.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits

Not applicable

Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)

Theoretical instruction in schools and work placements in hospitals etc. alternate during the entire training.

Main providers
  • public schools for nurses ([110]As from 1.1.2014 it is foreseen that this programme will be provided only by universities of applied sciences (UAS) and not any longer by public schools for nurses.)
Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies
Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)

Theoretical instruction in schools and work placements in hospitals etc. alternate during the entire training.

Main target groups

Programmes are accessible to young people and adults.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Schools for nurses (until 31.12.2023):

UAS bachelor programmes:

  • general university entrance qualifications or relevant professional qualifications;
  • professional aptitude and medical fitness.
Assessment of learning outcomes

Ongoing und regular assessment during the programme.

Diplomas/certificates provided

Schools for nurses (until 31.12.2019):

  • written thesis, diploma examination before an examination commission/diploma

UAS bachelor programmes:

  • bachelor examination

The qualification is fully recognised by VET and labour authorities and highly appreciated by labour market.

Examples of qualifications

Qualified nurse

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can progress to

Destination of graduates

information not available

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

  • short training course for care assistants, level 2: 2 years
General education subjects

N

Key competences

Y

Key competences play a crucial role in all school types of the VET sector in Austria ([118]See Tritscher-Archan, S.; Petanovitsch, A. (2016). Key competences in vocational education and training – Austria. Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspectives series.
https://cumulus.cedefop.europa.eu/files/vetelib/2016/ReferNet_AT_KC.pdf
).

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

With the development of the National Qualifications Framework learning outcomes have been made more explicit in the curricula of all schools in the VET sector.

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

In 2016/17 19 598 learners were registered in healthcare schools. Data on the allocation of learners to different programmes are not available ([119]Statistics Austria (2018). Bildung in Zahlen 2016/17, Tabellenband [Education in numbers: 2016/17]. Vienna: Statistics Austria.
https://www.statistik.at/web_de/services/publikationen/5/index.html?includePage=detailedView&sectionName=Bildung&pubId=509
).

At the UAS in the study year 2018 2 767 learners were registered in bachelor nursing programmes ([120]https://suasprod.noc-science.at/XLCubedWeb/WebForm/ShowReport.aspx?rep=004+studierende%2f002a+fachhochschulen%2f010+ordentliche+studierende+an+fhs+-+zeitreihe+wintersemester.xml&toolbar=true).

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available

General themes

VET in Finland comprises the following main features:

  • competence-based approach;
  • personal competence development plan for each learner charting and recognising previously acquired skills;
  • VET teacher profession is attractive;
  • early leaving from education and training is low and decreasing; leaving VET early is still more common than in general education;
  • participation in lifelong learning is high, also due to VET participation.

Distinctive features ([1]Cedefop (2016). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Finland. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8100_en.pdf
):

National qualification requirements have been based on a competence-based approach since the early 1990s. Flexibility of vocational qualifications has increased, for example by diversifying opportunities to include modules from other vocational qualifications (including further and specialist vocational qualifications) or university of applied sciences degrees. More flexibility will allow students to create individual learning paths and increase their motivation for completing their studies. It is also meant to give education providers an opportunity to meet regional and local labour market demands more effectively. Studies in upper secondary VET are based on individual study plans, comprising both compulsory and optional study modules. Modularisation allows for a degree of individualisation of qualifications:

  • a clearer range of qualifications that better meets the needs of working life;
  • a single competence-based method of completing qualifications;
  • competence-based and individual study paths for all.

The Finnish National Agency for Education reformed all 43 initial, 65 further and 56 specialist vocational qualifications in 2017-18. The fundamental goal of this reform was to reduce the number of qualification titles from 360 to 164 and offer broader programmes, strengthen the competence-based approach of vocational qualification requirements and the modular structure of qualifications. This supports building flexible and individual learning paths and promotes validation of prior learning.

A career as a VET teacher is generally considered attractive, reflected in the high number of applications to enrol in vocational teacher training programmes that invariably exceed intake. While up to a third of the applicants are admitted annually, there are major variations between different fields.

There is growing concern over the risk of social exclusion of young people. In 2018, among 20 to 24 year-olds, 11.8% were neither in employment nor in education and training. Youth unemployment is on the increase; the rate for 15 to 24 year-olds was 20% in 2014, 21.4% in 2016 and 20.4% in 2019. Both rates have improved in recent years ([2]Source: Statistics Finland.).

The government introduced the youth guarantee programme from the beginning of 2013. This offers everyone under 25, as well as recent graduates under 30, a job, on-the-job training, a study place or rehabilitation within three months of becoming unemployed.

Dropout from vocational education and training is far more common than from general upper secondary education, although it is not high in European terms (7.4% in the 2016/17 school year). Prevention of both dropout from education and exclusion from society is a policy priority: every individual who drops out of education and the labour market is seen as being both a personal tragedy and a significant cost to society. A programme was set up in 2012 to develop anticipatory and individualised procedures in guidance and counselling and create pedagogical solutions and practices supporting completion of studies, as well as work-centred learning environments and opportunities. There is also emphasis on creating practices to recognise prior learning more effectively. An additional EUR 4 million has been allocated to this programme. The results of these projects will be seen in 2020 at the earliest.

A new Act on VET was adopted in June 2017 and entered into force on 1 January 2018. Its objective has been to renew VET legislation, the financing system and create a more competence-based and customer-oriented system.

Data from VET in Finland Spotlight 2016 ([3]Cedefop (2016). Spotlight on vocational education and training in Finland. Luxembourg: Publications Office.
http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/8100_en.pdf
), updated in May 2019.

 

 

Population in 2018: 5 513 130 ([4]NB: Data for population as of 1 January; break in series. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].)

It increased by 1.6% since 2013 mainly due to immigration ([5]NB: Data for population as of 1 January; break in series. Eurostat table tps00001 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

As in many other EU countries, the population is ageing, but the share of young people remains slightly above the EU-28 due to immigration. Since 2000, annual immigration to the country has more than doubled, reaching 249 500 or 4.5% of the population in 2017. This is also due to the increased number of asylum seekers in 2015-16 ([6]Statistics Finland:
www.tilastokeskus.fi/tup/maahanmuutto/maahanmuuttajat-vaestossa/ulkomaan-kansalaiset_en.html#tab1483972171375_1
).

The old-age dependency ratio is expected to increase from 31 in 2015 to 50 in 2060 ([7]Old-age-dependency ratio is defined as the ratio between the number of persons aged 65 and more over the number of working-age persons (15-64 years). The value is expressed per 100 persons of working age (15-64).). This will also force the retirement age to increase, reaching 62.4 years in 2025 ([8]In 2017 it was 61.2 years. Source: Finnish Centre for Pensions:
www.etk.fi/en/statistics-2/statistics/effective-retirement-age/
).

 

Population forecast by age group and old-age-dependency ratio

Source: Eurostat, proj_15ndbims [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

According to population forecasts, the proportion of those aged over 65 is increasing faster than the EU average. This is mostly due to the ‘baby-boomer’ generations, born after World War II, reaching pensionable age.

Demographic challenges will impact the availability of the labour force, growth of the economy and, thus, provision of welfare services. The changing population structure will also require improving attainment, preventing early leaving from education and training, facilitating young people’s transition to further education and making flexible learning paths for completing qualifications.

Because of the demographic challenges, e.g. ageing population, the demand for labour in social and welfare services will grow in the future. According to the National Agency for Education ([9]https://www.oph.fi/julkaisut/2011/koulutus_ja_tyovoiman_kysynta_2025), demand for new employees in health care and social services will be nearly 120 000 in the period from 2008 to 2025. This has an impact on VET as, for example, practical nurses and dental assistants receive VET qualifications.

The country has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish.

Education and training institutions teach in Finnish and Swedish, but bilingual providers also exist, providing education in some foreign languages, mostly in English. In the Sámi language regions VET is also provided in a Sámi language.

The language of instruction for initial and continuing VET is decided in the licence for VET provision, granted by the education ministry.

Most companies are small- and medium-sized.

The highest share of the labour force is in human health and social work, manufacturing and in wholesale and retail trade.

 

Employees (age 15 to 74) by economic sector in 2018

Source: Statistics Finland. https://www.tilastokeskus.fi/tup/suoluk/suoluk_tyoelama_en.html

 

The main export sectors are ([10]Source:
https://atlas.media.mit.edu/en/profile/country/fin/ [accessed 2.4.2019].
):

  • machines (23%) ([11]E.g. broadcasting equipment, electrical transformers.);
  • paper goods (16%) ([12]E.g. coated paper, wood pulp.);
  • metals (14%) ([13]E.g. stainless steel, raw zinc.);
  • transportation goods (11%) ([14]E.g. cars, ships.).

Relatively few professions require a specific type of education. Education requirements mainly exist in health care, teaching, rescue and security jobs. Also the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church requires its employees to have education in the field. Such professions usually require a higher education degree.

A few regulated professions require a vocational qualification. Examples are nurses, prison and security guards, construction divers and chimney sweeps.

The labour market is, therefore, considered flexible.

Total unemployment ([15]Percentage of active population, 25 to 74 years old.) (2018): 6.1% (6.0% in EU-28); it increased by 1.2 percentage points since 2008 ([16]Eurostat table une_rt_a [extracted 20.5.2019].).

 

Unemployment rate (aged 15-24 and 25-64) by education attainment level in 2008-18

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series; low reliability for ISCED 5-8, age 15-24.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_urgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Unemployment is distributed unevenly between those with low- and high-level qualifications. In Finland, the financial crisis had less impact on unemployment than in other European countries.

During the crisis there was only a slight increase in unemployment, and the difference between the unemployment rates of the three categories above remained quite stable.

Young people (15-24) with low qualifications (ISCED 0-2) are much more exposed to unemployment than older people who have more working experience. Higher level qualifications also mean less unemployment for young people.

The employment rate of VET graduates (age 20-34, ISCED levels 3 and 4) has increased since 2014 by 2.2 percentage points and reached 79.8% in 2018.

 

Employment rate of VET graduates (20 to 34 years old, ISCED levels 3 and 4)

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011; breaks in time series.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

This increase was slower compared with the increase in employment for the same age group graduates of all education types (+2.5pp) in the same period ([17]NB: Breaks in time series. Eurostat table edat_lfse_24 [extracted 16.5.2019].).

For more information about the external drivers influencing VET developments in Finland please see the case study from Cedefop's changing nature and role of VET in Europe project [17a]Cedefop (2018). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 3: the responsiveness of European VET systems to external change (1995-2015). Case study focusing in Finland. Cedefop research paper; No 67. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/finland_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study.pdf

Completion of both upper secondary and tertiary studies is one of the objectives of national education policy. Finland has one of the highest shares of 25-64 year old people with higher education qualifications (43.7%) and one of the lowest shares with low qualifications (11.7%) in the EU.

 

Population (aged 25 to 64) by highest education level attained in 2018

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011. Low reliability for ‘no response’ in Czechia, Iceland, Latvia and Poland.
ISCED 0-2 = less than primary, primary and lower secondary education.
ISCED 3-4 = upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.
ISCED 5-8 = tertiary education.
Source: Eurostat, lfsa_pgaed [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Attainment of Finns aged 25 to 64 has increased significantly since 2000 and slightly more rapidly than in the EU-28 on average ([18]https://findikaattori.fi/en/). Since the 1990s the expansion of adult education and training, as well as the creation of the competence-based qualifications system, offered many ‘baby-boomers’ born after World War II an opportunity to complete a VET qualification.

For more information about VET in higher education in Finland please see the case study from Cedefop's changing nature and role of VET in Europe projectt [18a]Cedefop (2019). The changing nature and role of vocational education and training in Europe. Volume 6: vocationally oriented education and training at higher education level. Expansion and diversification in European countries. Case study focusing on Finland. Cedefop research paper; No 70. https://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/finland_cedefop_changing_nature_of_vet_-_case_study_0.pdf

Share of learners in VET by level in 2017

lower- secondary

upper -secondary

post-secondary

not applicable

71.6%

100%

Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs01, educ_uoe_enrs04 and educ_uoe_enrs07 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Share of initial VET learners from total learners at upper-secondary level (ISCED level 3), 2017

NB: Data based on ISCED 2011.
Source: Eurostat, educ_uoe_enrs04 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

The male/female share in vocational upper secondary programmes is equal. In further qualification programmes, there are more females.

In 2017, 43% of all male VET students studied in one particular field, i.e. engineering, manufacturing and construction. Business and administration and services both accounted for 17% of all male VET students. Around one-third (31%) of women were enrolled in health and welfare, 20% in services and 25% in business, administration and law.

The share of early leavers from education and training was 8.3% in 2018. The share has decreased since 2009 by 1.6 percentage points (-3.6 percentage points in the EU) and it is very close to the national 2020 target of not more than 8%.

 

Early leavers from education and training in 2009-18

NB: Share of the population aged 18 to 24 with at most lower secondary education and not in further education or training.
Source: Eurostat, edat_lfse_14 [extracted 16.5.2019] and European Commission: https://ec.europa.eu/info/2018-european-semester-national-reform-programmes-and-stability-convergence-programmes_en [accessed 14.11.2018].

 

The overall duration of education and training is influenced by delays at transition points ([19]For example, young graduates from upper secondary education at age of 19 cannot always enter higher education due to limited places available; they often apply several years in a row in order to enrol.) and the overall time spent in each programme. The latter is now being addressed by the new financing mechanism that gives more weight to the effectiveness of studies and is pushing towards timely acquisition of qualifications.

Lifelong learning offers training opportunities for adults, including early leavers from education.

 

Participation in lifelong learning in 2014-18

NB: Share of adult population aged 25 to 64 participating in education and training.
Source: Eurostat, trng_lfse_01 [extracted 16.5.2019].

 

Participation in lifelong learning is traditionally high in Finland. It has increased by 3.4 percentage points since 2014, reaching 28.5% in 2018. It is almost three times higher than the EU-28 average (11.1% in 2018).

VET is an important form of adult education. In 2016 almost 70% of those completing vocational upper secondary qualifications in Finland were under 25. Almost half of those taking further vocational qualifications completed their studies under the age of 35, and over half of those taking specialist vocational qualifications were over 40.

 

VET learners by age group in 2010-17

Source: Statistics Finland (Vipunen). https://vipunen.fi/

 

The share of adults (aged 25 and above) in initial and continuing VET has been increasing both in absolute numbers and proportionally. In the programme aiming for upper secondary vocational qualification the share of adults has been increasing and was 36% in 2017. In further qualification the share has varied between 81-86% and in specialist qualification it has remained roughly the same at 95%.

The education and training system comprises:

  • early childhood education and care (ISCED level 0);
  • pre-primary education (ISCED level 0);
  • primary education and lower secondary education; (ISCED levels 1 and 2), also called basic education;
  • optional additional year (ISCED level 2) (age 16);
  • Upper secondary education (ISCED level 3 and 4);
  • Tertiary education (ISCED levels 6, 7, and 8).

Early childhood education and care (varhaiskasvatus, småbarnsfostran) is not compulsory and participation requires the payment of a small fee. It is provided to children up to age six.

Pre-primary education (esiopetus, förskoleundervisning) is compulsory and it is provided to learners aged 6 years old.

Basic education (perusopetus, grundläggande utbildning) is compulsory. It is divided into primary education, provided in grades 1 to 6, to learners aged 7 to 12, and into lower secondary education, provided in grades 7 to 9, to students aged 13 to 16 years old.

The optional additional year is provided to students at age 16. Its purpose is to improve grades and to prepare for vocational education or familiarisation with the working life.

After basic education students can complete training preparing them for VET (ammatilliseen koulutukseen valmentava koulutus, utbildning som handleder för yrkesutbildning). This preparatory education and training provides students with capabilities for applying to VET, leading to qualifications, and fosters their preconditions for

completing qualifications. Preparatory education and

training for work and independent living (työhön ja itsenäiseen elämään valmentava koulutus, utbildning som handleder för arbete och ett självständigt liv) is available for those who need special support due to illness or injury. It provides students with instruction and guidance according to their personal goals and capabilities.

Upper secondary education (toisen asteen koulutus, utbildning på andra stadiet) is provided in grades 10 to 12, to students aged 17 to 19 years old. It is divided into general (lukiokoulutus, gymnasieutbildning), and vocational (ammatillinen koulutus, yrkesutbildning).

Tertiary education (korkeakoulutus, högskola) is provided by universities (yliopisto, universitet) and by universities of applied sciences (ammattikorkeakoulu, yrkeshögskola).

Promoting employment and self-employment are key elements of VET. Guided and goal-oriented studying at the

workplace is an essential part of VET. Studying at the workplace is either based on apprenticeship or on training agreement. Both can be flexibly combined. Learning at the workplace can be used to acquire competence in all vocational qualifications as well as promoting further training or supplementing vocational skills. Studying at the workplace can cover an entire degree, a module or a smaller part of the studies.

Initial VET (for young people) and continuing VET (for adults) are organised under the same legislation and principles ([20]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170531).

Initial VET (vocational upper secondary programmes) provides learners with vocational skills they need for entry- level jobs. It also supports learners’ growth into good and balanced individuals and members of society, and it provides them with the knowledge and skills needed for further studies and for the development of their personalities. A holder of a vocational upper secondary qualification has broad-based, basic vocational skills to work in different tasks in the chosen field, as well as more specialised competence and the vocational skills required for work in at least one section of the chosen field.

Continuing VET (further and specialist programmes) provides more comprehensive and specialised competences and requires labour market experience. They are mainly acquired by adults in employment with an IVET qualification; however, this is not a precondition for the taking of the qualification. A holder of a further vocational qualification has the vocational skills that meet work needs and that are more advanced or more specialised than what is required in the vocational upper secondary qualification. A holder of a specialist vocational qualification has vocational skills that meet work needs and that are highly advanced or multidisciplinary.

All programmes are competence-based. This means that completing a qualification does not depend on where and how competences have been acquired. All learners who have completed basic education may enrol in VET, but each provider decides the selection criteria. In some regions there is a competition for potential learners between general upper secondary and VET schools. VET often attracts more applicants than there are places available, especially in programmes in social services, health and sports, vehicle and transport technology, business and administration, electrical and automation engineering, and beauty care.

Study units (also known as modules)

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational units:

• compulsory;

• optional.

In addition to the above, all initial vocational qualification programmes include units that consist of common, rather than specific, vocational competence:

• communication and interaction competence;

• mathematics and science competence;

• citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

Key competences help students to keep up with the changes in society and working life. In the wake of the 2018 VET reform (Vocational Education and Training Act 531, adopted in 2017 and in force since 2018), key competences are no longer addressed as a separate part of vocational competences. They have been modified so that key competences are included in all vocational skills requirements and assessment criteria. The key competences for lifelong learning are: digital and technological competence; mathematics and science competence; competence development; communication and interaction competence; competence for sustainable development; cultural competence; social and citizenship competence; and entrepreneurial competence.

Personal competence development plan

At the beginning of VET studies objectives for competence development are recorded in a personal competence development plan for each learner. A teacher draws up the plan together with a learner. An employer or another representative of a workplace or other cooperation partner may also participate in the preparation of the personal competence development plan, when required. The plan includes information on, for example, identification and recognition of prior learning, acquisition of missing skills, demonstrations of competence and of other skills, and the guidance and support needed. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The learner can also include units from general upper secondary curriculum, other vocational qualifications (incl. further vocational qualifications and specialist vocational qualifications) or degrees of universities of applied sciences in his personal competence development plan. The plan can be up-dated during the studies whenever necessary.

Work-based learning

Work-based learning (WBL) is provided mainly in real work environments (companies). If this is not possible, it can also be organised in school facilities.

The 2018 reform aimed to increase the share of work-based learning in VET by offering more flexibility in its organisation. All learners take part in WBL and any form of WBL (training agreement or apprenticeship training) may be taken by learners in any qualification programme. WBL may be provided during the whole programme duration and cover the whole qualification, a module/unit, or a smaller part of the programme. The most suitable method for a learner is agreed in the personal competence development plan.

The legislation does not stipulate a maximum or minimum amount of work-based learning but it strongly recommends that VET providers organise at least part of the learning at the workplace. The form of WBL may vary during the studies. A learner may transfer flexibly from a training agreement to apprenticeship training when the prerequisites for concluding an apprenticeship agreement are met (see Section 2.5.2). Work-based learning is guided and goal-oriented training at a workplace, allowing learners to acquire parts of the practical vocational skills included in the desired qualification.

Training agreement

This type of WBL can be offered in all initial and continuing VET programmes. At the very beginning of the training, the personal competence development plan shall be designed by the teacher/guidance counsellor, working life representative and the learner. The WBL periods are defined in this plan.

Learners are not in an employment relationship with the training company. They do not receive salary and employers do not receive any training compensation. But companies gladly recruit people with work experience. Within this system, the learners acquire some experience during their studies and the learner and the company get to know each other. It is possible to change from a training agreement to an apprenticeship training contract, if prerequisites for concluding an apprenticeship agreement are met.

A training agreement period can also be conducted abroad, as an exchange period, e.g. within the Erasmus+ programme or through other programmes or individual arrangements.

Apprenticeship training contract

Any qualification can be acquired through apprenticeship training – a work-based form of VET that is based on a written fixed-term employment contract (apprenticeship contract) between an employer and an apprentice, who must be at least 15 years old. Working hours are at least 25 hours per week. Apprenticeships have been used mainly in further and specialist vocational education. Since the 2018 reform, there is no indication in the legislation where the theoretical part should be acquired. In fact, the word ‘theory’ is no longer in use. Instead, ‘learning in the working place’ and ‘learning in other environments’ terminology applies. If the company is able to cover all the training needs, there is no need for the learner to attend a school venue at all. Learners themselves find work places for the training. The employer has no obligation to keep the apprentice employed after the training period is completed.

VET providers are responsible for initiating the contract. The demand and supply of contracts/work places are not always in balance. There are regional and field-specific differences but usually there are not enough apprenticeship places in companies.

Apprenticeship training is based on the requirements of the relevant qualification, according to which the learner’s personal competence development plan is drawn up. It considers the needs and requirements of the workplace and the learner. Approximately 70-80% of the time used for learning takes place in the workplace where the apprenticeship contract is concluded. Periods of theory and in-company training alternate but a common pattern does not exist; it is agreed in the personal competence development plan.

The employer pays the apprentice’s wages according to the relevant collective agreement for the period of workplace training. For the period of theoretical studies, learners receive social benefits, such as a daily allowance and allowances for accommodation and travel expenses. The education provider pays compensation to cover the costs of training provided in the workplace. The employer and VET institution agree on the amount of compensation before the training takes place; a separate contract is prepared for each learner.

At national level, the general goals for VET and the qualifications structure ([21]Qualification structure is a system of qualifications. It defines how many there are initial, further and specialist VET qualifications: their share, titles and competence points (total and for common units; their division within the qualification is decided by the Finnish National Agency for Education).) are determined by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The ministry also grants the licences for education provision. The Finnish National Agency for Education decides the national requirements of qualifications, detailing the goals and core content of each vocational qualification.

 

Main VET stakeholders

Source: Finnish National Agency for Education.

 

Vocational qualification requirements are developed in broad-based cooperation with stakeholders. The national qualification requirements have been based on a learning-outcomes approach since the early 1990s. Consequently, close cooperation with the world of work has been essential.

Cooperation with the world of work and other key stakeholders is carried out in order to ensure that qualifications support is flexible and promotes efficient transition to the labour market, as well as occupational development and career change. In addition to the needs of the world of work, development of VET and qualifications takes into account consolidation of lifelong learning skills, as well as the individuals’ needs and opportunities to complete qualifications flexibly to suit their own circumstances.

The Ministry of Education and Culture grants authorisations to VET providers, determining the fields of education in which they are allowed to provide education and training and their total learner numbers. VET providers determine which vocational qualifications and which study programmes within the specified fields of education will be organised at their vocational institutions.

To enhance the service capacity of VET providers, they have been encouraged to merge into regional or other strong entities. Across Finland, education providers cover all VET services and development activities. Thus, vocational institutions offer initial and continuing training both for young people and adult learners. Vocational institutions work in close cooperation with the labour market. Their role is to develop their own provision in cooperation with the labour market on the one hand, and to support competence development within small and medium-sized enterprises on the other. This strategy for vocational institutions has been a necessary means of ensuring and increasing the flexibility of education and training. Consequently, larger vocational institutions can offer enough vocational modules to ensure that learners can customise their programmes and choose studies that match changing needs for competences.

Vocational institutions can organise their activities freely, according to the requirements of their fields or their regions, and decide on their institutional networks and other services.

VET providers

Around 70% of VET providers are privately owned and 24% are owned by joint municipal authorities (Figure 10). There are 145 VET providers in total (Figure 10); this is considerably fewer than in 2006 as they have been strongly encouraged to merge. This cost-efficiency trend in education has been apparent since the mid-1990s. The ministry encourages VET providers towards voluntary mergers to ensure that all education providers have sufficient professional and financial resources to provide education.

 

VET providers by ownership

NB: Data as of 30 April 2019. In addition, there were 16 private VET providers who did not receive the licence, but can continue providing VET for a transitional period.
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

 

The most common types of VET provider are vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and the service sector) ([22]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. car manufacturers) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Private vocational institutions operating under the 2018 VET Act are supervised by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Similar to public VET providers, they receive government subsidies and have the right to award official qualification certificates.

Out of 145 VET providers in total, there are 26 specialised vocational institutions, which are generally maintained by manufacturing and service sector enterprises. They are national private institutions, also referred to as ‘government dependent private institutions’, which provide training for their own needs outside the national qualifications structure described above, and which mainly focus on continuing training for their own staff. The specialised vocational institutions (also national private institutions) have been authorised by the Ministry of Education and Culture to provide education and training. Although these institutions receive state funding, most of the costs are covered by the owners of these enterprises (or by the enterprises responsible for them).

Current financing system

Education is publicly funded through public tax revenue at all levels. This has been perceived in Finland as being a means of guaranteeing equal education opportunities for the entire population irrespective of social or ethnic background, gender and place of residence. Funding criteria for receiving state funding are uniform for public and private VET providers.

Private funding only accounts for 2.6% of all education expenditure. Its share is slightly higher in upper secondary VET and higher education, but still remains below 5%.

Public funding is mainly provided by the State (30%) and local authorities (municipalities) (70%). VET providers decide on the use of all funds granted. In upper secondary VET, operating costs per learner vary between EUR 6 488 for all apprenticeships (companies cover most of the costs) to EUR 27 956 in special needs VET ([23]The most recent available data of 2017.).

In VET (excluding apprenticeships and special needs), funding varies by study field. Total VET funding is 1.5% from government spending and 13% from the spending of the Ministry of Education and Culture (2019).

 

Operating costs per learner in upper secondary VET by study field in 2012, 2014, 2017 (euros)

Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

 

At the beginning of 2018, the unit price of apprenticeship training was increased to the same level as that of institution-based training. This is expected to encourage education providers to increase their offer of apprenticeship training. In addition, if the apprentice is a long-term unemployed jobseeker, lacks professional skills, or is disabled, the employer may also receive a state-funded pay subsidy.

The 2022 financing system for better performance

With the amendment to the Act on the Financing of the Provision of Education and Culture (532/2017) that entered into force at the beginning of 2018, a single coherent funding system was established for all VET programmes. The Act includes one uniform funding system for the provision of VET covering vocational upper secondary education and training, vocational further education and training, apprenticeship training and labour market training leading to a qualification (see Section 2.9.3). Funding criteria are uniform irrespective of the type of education provider.

The new system of funding is moving away from the current model of core funding and a very small element of performance funding (5%), towards one based on funding divided into core, performance and effectiveness and strategy.

 

Share of VET funding elements from 2022

Source: Ministry of Education and Culture; Finnish National Agency for Education (2018). Finnish VET in a nutshell. ISBN: 978-952-263-592-1.

 

  • 50% core funding is based on the number of students; it is important for forward planning and ensuring future provision of VET in all fields and for all students;
  • 35% performance funding is based on the number of completed qualifications and qualification units; it is meant to steer education providers to target education and qualifications in accordance with competence needs and to intensify study processes;
  • 15% effectiveness funding is based on students’ access to employment, pursuit of further education and feedback from both students and the labour market ([24]VET providers must collect these data. The system is not fully operational yet as the new financing system will be ready in 2022.); it aims to encourage education providers to redirect education to fields where labour is needed to ensure that education corresponds to the needs of the working life and that it is of high quality and provides the students with the competence to study further;
  • in addition, a relatively small amount of strategy funding (decided by parliament) will be made available; it is meant to support development and actions that are important from the education policy standpoint. It could be used, for example, for VET national development projects, skills competitions and developing education provider networks (e.g. mergers).

The new funding system will gradually be introduced and will be fully operational in 2022.

 

VET funding elements 2018-22 (%)

Source: Ministry of Education and Culture.

 

In VET, there are:

  • teachers of vocational units, teachers of common units, special needs teachers;
  • trainers.

Teaching is a popular profession in Finland. The popularity of vocational teacher education has been consistent over many years, largely because of the flexible arrangements for completing studies. While up to a third of the applicants are admitted annually, there are major variations between different fields.

Those who apply for a place in vocational teacher education are, on average, older than applicants of other forms of teacher education. This is because applicants are required to have prior work experience in their own field. The average age of applicants and those admitted as learners is approximately 40 years.

The proportion of women among applicants and teacher training learners has increased noticeably in recent years. Unlike in other teacher education programmes, it is more difficult for women than for men to gain a place in vocational teacher education. Regarding salaries and terms and conditions of employment, there are no remarkable differences between teachers in general education and VET.

Although there are no official data for trainers ([25]In-company trainers (nationally referred to as workplace instructors) are responsible for supervising learners during their on-the-job learning periods or apprenticeship training in enterprises.) on the attractiveness of their profession, the general impression is that trainers are generally satisfied with their training tasks. In many cases, they perceive more responsibilities and autonomy as recognition of their professionalism; time spent with young learners away from normal routine is also considered to be a reward. Trainers participate in the competence demonstrations involving trainers in learner assessment at the workplace. This assessment plays a significant role on learners’ final qualification certificates.

 

Teacher and trainer qualifications

Source: https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/ajantasa/1998/19980986#L5

 

First, teachers of vocational units must have an appropriate higher education degree in their own vocational sector. If such a degree does not exist, it can also be supplemented by the highest possible other qualification in the sector. One specific challenge has been to find qualified teachers in some fields. Another challenge is the sometimes limited shop floor experience of teachers with a university degree. In some fields, therefore now possible to acquire teaching qualifications by completing a specialist vocational qualification (ISCED 4) or some other qualification or training that provides solid competence in the field concerned.

Second, they have a pedagogical teacher training qualification with 60 ECTS credit points, and third, they need relevant work experience in their own field. Teachers of vocational units take teacher’s pedagogical studies at five vocational teacher education institutions (universities of applied sciences) while teachers of common units (such as languages and mathematics) generally complete them at universities.

The content of teacher training is updated continuously by vocational teacher education colleges. Teacher education institutions enjoy wide autonomy in deciding on their curricula and training arrangements. Legislation sets the qualification requirements, but only at a very general level.

Requirements for trainers

Trainers are generally experienced foremen and skilled workers. They frequently have a vocational or professional qualification but hold no pedagogical qualifications.

There are no formal qualifications requirements for trainers in Finland. Their participation in continuing professional development is also left completely up to them and their employers.

There are, however, training programmes available for trainers that follow national guidelines (as recommended by the Finnish National Agency for Education). According to the guidelines, training for trainers comprises three modules, providing participants with the capabilities required in order to: plan training at the workplace; provide vocational competence demonstrations; instruct VET learners and assess their learning; and impart vocational skills. The Finnish National Agency for Education recommends that, where possible, people acting as workplace trainers should participate in the training of trainers. VET education providers are responsible for providing the training.

There is also plenty of autonomy for continuing professional development (CPD) for VET teachers. The CPD obligation of teaching staff is defined partly in legislation and partly in the collective agreement negotiated between the Trade Union of Education in Finland and the employers’ organisation.

Most continuing training is provided free of charge and teachers enjoy full salary benefits during their participation. Funding responsibility rests with teachers’ employers, mainly local authorities. Training content is decided by individual employers and the teachers themselves.

The Parasta osaamista project set up a network for improving VET teacher’s CPD. It started in 2016 and is coordinated by Jyväskylä university. The aim of the project is to support education staff during the implementation of the 2017-2018 VET reform. Emphasis is put on developing coherent practices; unifying quality criteria; promoting competence-based and customer-oriented VET in cooperation with the world of work; mapping the competence needs of VET staff; developing tools and operational models for workplace learning; and the induction of workplace instructors.

The 2016 teacher education development programme (Opettajankoulutuksen kehittämisohjelma) also aims to adopt a systematic and coherent structure for teachers’ competence development during their careers. It is recommended that education institutions prepare competence development plans, which will be underpinned by strategic plans and evaluations of competence by education providers. Particular attention is being paid to building up the vocational skills of young teachers and their opportunities for receiving support. CPD, promoting the integration of Finnish language learning into the vocational studies, language awareness focused teaching and collaborative instruction, is being organised.

VET schools offer short courses/events to upskill workplace instructors in relation to various themes, such as how to guide special needs learners at the workplace. The Parasta osaamista project also offers support for workplace instructors.

More information is available in the Cedefop ReferNet thematic perspective on teachers and trainers ([26]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/country-reports/teachers-and-trainers).

 

 

Skills anticipation activities are well established and linked to policy-making. For more than a decade, socio-economic factors such as the effects of the economic recession, the gradually decreasing labour force, and the ageing population have increased the need to improve the match between supply and demand skills. As a result, significant investment in skills anticipation has been undertaken by the government and its partners. The aim is to steer the education system – both VET and higher education – to meet the needs of the labour market.

At national level, the Finnish National Agency for Education, which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Culture, produces long-term (10+ years) national forecasts ([27]https://beta.oph.fi/fi/tilastot-ja-julkaisut/julkaisut/osaaminen-2035) on the demand for labour and education needs in support of decision-making. It is supported by the skills anticipation forum, established in early 2017. The Ministry of Education and Culture decides on study places by field of education (around 10). At regional level, councils anticipate skills needs in the municipalities in the region. The forecasting data is also used for guidance and employment counselling to provide information regarding future employment opportunities. The Finnish National Agency for Education also supports regional forecasting efforts, which are carried out under the supervision of regional councils. The goal is to steer the number of learner places in education and training provision to ensure that it matches developments in the demand for labour as closely as possible.

In general, there is a high degree of stakeholder involvement in skills anticipation activities. Major trade unions, employers, regional councils, and representatives of education institutions are involved in anticipation exercises. The responsibility of education providers for anticipating and responding to labour market changes has increased, as operational targeting and steering powers ([28]It means among other things that VET providers can decide within the limits of the licence received from Ministry of Education and Culture what qualifications and training programmes to offer.) have been devolved to universities, universities of applied sciences, and VET providers. Providers are required to play an active role in addressing the national/regional labour market skills needs.

In addition, a wide range of national and regional EU-funded anticipation and forecast projects are carried out by organisations such as research institutions, labour market and industry organisations, VET providers, universities and universities of applied sciences. In particular, regional anticipation activities have developed rapidly in the past decade. Key players in these activities include regional councils, the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centres), VET providers, and higher education institutions.

Governance and funding of the relevant exercises are the remit of three ministries (Education and Culture, Finance, Economic Affairs and Employment). These ministries engage in a variety of skills anticipation exercises, taking advantage of the long-term baseline forecasts of economic development produced by the Institute for Economic Research (Valtion Taloudellinen Tutkimuskeskus), a specialised state institution under the Ministry of Finance. The first regional anticipation projects were launched at the beginning of the 2000s. The ministries mostly finance development prognoses of branches, which also include the demand for labour.

Skills anticipation influences government policies on VET, higher education and adult education. Forecasts of future skills demand have an impact on decisions about education supply. Skills anticipation also has an impact on curriculum planning in VET and higher education institutions.

Dissemination of the data generated by skills anticipation exercises is an important element of the anticipation activity. The aim is to make the output from anticipation exercises accessible to a wide audience (policy-makers, employers, jobseekers and young people, etc.) through a range of channels including reports, workshops and online publications. Despite the focus on dissemination of skills anticipation data, there is a need to improve the user friendliness of the existing database to improve information for learners, job seekers and employers ([29]This section is based on Cedefop’s Skills Panorama (2017). Skills anticipation in Finland. Analytical highlights series.
http://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/analytical_highlights/skills-anticipation-finland
).

Quantitative anticipation

The Finnish National Agency for Education is responsible for quantitative anticipation. It has developed the Mitenna model for anticipating long-term demand for labour and educational needs. The model provides long-term data on changes in the demand for labour, natural wastage of labour ([30]A reduction in the number of employees, which is achieved by not replacing those who leave.), demand for skilled labour and educational needs. Quantitative anticipation is used to provide information on quantitative needs for vocationally and professionally oriented education and training in upper secondary vocational education and training, university of applied sciences education and university education. The focus is on anticipating the demand for labour over a period of circa 15 years ([31]Growth in competencies for Finland: proposed objectives for degrees and qualifications for the 2020s (Suomi osaamisen kasvu-uralle. Ehdotus tutkintotavoitteista 2020-luvulle).
http://julkaisut.valtioneuvosto.fi/handle/10024/75163
).

Qualitative anticipation

The Finnish National Agency for Education coordinated a project on future competences and skills, known as the VOSE project, between 2008 and 2012. The aim of this project was to create a process model for anticipating vocational competence and skills needs for the future (looking 10 to 15 years ahead).

The knowledge produced through the model serves different levels of education, including vocational, university of applied sciences and university education. Anticipatory knowledge may be utilised, for example, in the national core curriculum, in curriculum planning and the development of the content of education.

The development of the anticipation model has involved social partners representing the piloted sectors (the real estate and building sectors, the social, welfare and health care sectors and the tourism and catering sectors), representatives of research institutions and of various fields of education, as well as other experts in the sectors in question.

The anticipation model created in the VOSE project is now used in the qualitative anticipation of education and training. The model is used to anticipate the skills needs in 2 to 3 fields every year ([32]https://www.oph.fi/english/education_development/anticipation).

National forum for skills anticipation

The National Forum for Skills Anticipation (Osaamisen ennakointifoorumi) serves as a joint expert body in educational anticipation for the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish National Agency for Education. The system consists of a steering group, anticipation groups and a network of experts. The task is to analyse changing competence and skills needs; their impact on the development of education on the basis of the anticipation data; and to promote the interaction of education and training with working life in cooperation with the Ministry and Finnish National Agency for Education. Anticipation groups consist of representatives of employers, employees, education providers, educational administrators, teaching staff and researchers in each field. Anticipation groups are involved in both qualitative and quantitative anticipation work. There are nine anticipation groups representing the following fields:

• natural resources, food production and the environment;

• business and administration;

• education, culture and communications;

• transport and logistics;

• hospitality services;

• built environment;

• social, health and welfare services;

• technology industry and services;

• process industry and production.

See also Cedefop’s skills forecast ([33]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/publications-and-resources/data-visualisations/skills-forecast) and European Skills Index ([34]https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/indicators/european-skills-index)

The VET curriculum system consists of the:

  • national qualification requirements;
  • education provider´s competence assessment plan;
  • learner`s personal competence development plan.

 

Designing VET qualifications

Source: Finnish National Agency for Education.

 

National qualification requirements

Before the 2018 reform, the national qualification requirements for different qualifications were often updated every five to 10 years on average or whenever necessary, either partially or completely. Since 2018, updating the qualifications became a continuous process based on the changing needs in the world of work and the results of anticipation of skill needs.

The starting point for updating a qualification may be changes in the skills needs in the labour market. These changes can lead to a change of the qualification requirements, or even the qualification structure, of initial, further and specialist vocational qualifications. Changes to the qualification structure also require qualification requirements to be renewed. The process of preparing a qualification requirements document usually takes one to two years.

Within the national qualifications framework (NQF), the Finnish National Agency for Education has placed upper secondary vocational qualifications and further vocational qualifications at level 4 (referenced to level 4 of the EQF) and specialist vocational qualifications at level 5. The ECVET system ([35]http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/en/events-and-projects/projects/european-credit-system-vocational-education-and-training-ecvet) was put into practice in Finland in 2014 and from the beginning of August 2018, in accordance with ECVET recommendations, vocational upper secondary qualifications have covered 180 credit points; further vocational qualifications 120, 150 or 180 credit points; and specialist vocational qualifications 160, 180 or 210 credit points. One year of full-time study corresponds to 60 credit points.

The qualification requirements are drawn up under the leadership of the Finnish National Agency for Education in tripartite cooperation with employers, employees and the education sector. Self-employed people are also represented in the preparation of qualification requirements in fields where self-employment is prevalent. The qualification requirements determine: the units included in the qualification; any possible specialisations made up of different units; selection of optional units in addition to compulsory ones; the vocational skills required for each qualification unit; the guidelines for assessment (targets and criteria of assessment); and the ways of demonstrating vocational skills.

The qualification requirements and the vocational competences form the basis for identifying the types of occupational work processes in which vocational skills for a specific qualification can be demonstrated and assessed.

When an update is initiated, the Finnish National Agency for Education sets up a qualification project, inviting experts representing employees, employers and teachers in the field to participate. In the course of its work, the expert group must also consult other experts in the world of work. Once the expert group has completed a draft version of the new qualification requirements, the document will be sent to representatives of unions, organisations, the world of work and VET providers for a broad consultation process. Following this process, the Finnish National Agency for Education adopts the qualification requirements as a nationally binding regulation.

The Finnish National Agency for Education determines the working life committee under which the specific qualification will fall, or establishes a new working life committee for the new qualification. Working life committees are tripartite bodies consisting of employers and employees’ representatives, teachers and self-employed people. They play a key role in the quality assurance of VET. They ensure the quality of the implementation of competence demonstrations and competence assessment and develop the VET qualifications structure and qualification requirements.

Vocational qualifications are structured in a modular way. These modules comprise units of work or activities found in the world of work. Each vocational qualification unit is a specific occupational area, which can be separated into an independent and assessable component. The vocational skills requirements determined for each qualification unit focus on the core functions of the occupation, mastery of operating processes and the occupational practices of the field in question. These also include skills generally required in working life, such as social skills and key competences for lifelong learning. All qualification requirements share a common structure.

The targets of assessment defined in the qualification requirements indicate those areas of competence on which special attention is focused during assessment. The criteria for assessment have been derived from the vocational skills requirements. The assessment criteria determine the grades awarded for units in upper secondary vocational qualifications and the standard of an acceptable performance in further and specialist qualifications. The section entitled ‘Ways of demonstrating vocational skills’ describes how candidates are to demonstrate their vocational skills in vocational demonstrations.

The qualifications requirements adopted by the Finnish National Agency for Education are published in electronic form on the Finnish National Agency for Education website.

Competence assessment plans

Competence assessment plans are prepared by the respective education provider for each training programme or qualification. The plan details the guidelines and procedures adopted by the education provider regarding the implementation of competence assessment. The plan includes how the following aspects are to be carried out (who does what, how, where it is registered and how the student, staff and stakeholders ([36]Teachers, guidance and counselling staff and assessors of competence.) are informed): recognition of prior learning; demonstration of competence; skills assurance before the demonstration of competence; assessment; certification; preparatory programme planning; and monitoring the implementation of the plan itself.

The competence assessment plan is used by teachers, guidance personnel and assessors of competence. The feasibility of the plan is self-monitored and self-assessed by VET providers as part of their quality assurance system. The plan is attached to the application for a licence to provide VET.

Learner personal competence development plan

At the beginning of VET studies objectives for competence development are recorded in a personal competence development plan for each learner. A teacher draws up the plan together with a learner. An employer or another representative of a workplace or other cooperation partner may also participate in the preparation of the personal competence development plan, when required. The plan includes information on, for example, identification and recognition of prior learning, acquisition of missing skills, competence demonstrations and other demonstration of skills, and the guidance and support needed. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The learner can also include units from general upper secondary curriculum, other vocational qualifications (incl. further vocational qualifications and specialist vocational qualifications) or degrees of universities of applied sciences in their personal competence development plan. The plan can be up-dated during the studies whenever necessary.

Involvement of the world of work in developing qualification requirements and quality in VET

The representatives of the world of work participate in the anticipation of skills and education needs both nationally and regionally, for example through anticipation groups, advisory committees and through consultation processes. They participate in drawing up the qualification requirements at national level and they are represented in working life committees.

At regional level the representatives from enterprises participate in the organisation and planning of training and skills demonstrations, regional committees as well as assessment of skills demonstrations. This allows continuous feedback from the world of work.

In 2017, the former 30 national education and training committees were replaced by nine anticipating groups representing different vocational fields (see Section 3.1.3). Members of these groups are representatives of employers, employees and self-employed entrepreneurs, as well as VET providers, higher education institutions, teaching staff, researchers and educational administration. The anticipating groups are appointed until 2020. Their tasks include:

• analysing changing and new competence and skills needs of working life and their implications for different levels of education;

• offering recommendations for the development of VET programmes;

• strengthening cooperation between upper secondary VET and higher education;

  • providing public authorities with recommendations on new development needs and cooperation between the world of work and education.

Continuous improvement of VET quality is a key priority in Finland. The following activities are essential when assuring that vocational education and training meets the requirements of the world of work.

 

Stakeholder roles in assuring VET quality

Source: Finnish National Agency for Education.

 

The quality assurance of VET consists of VET provider´s own quality management, national VET steering and external evaluation.

VET legislation sets the frame for VET providers’ operations. The law requires that the VET provider is responsible for the quality of qualifications and programmes offered and for their constant improvement. VET providers have to have a functional quality assurance system in place. According to the law, they must evaluate the quality, effectiveness (employability, pursuit of further education and feedback from learners and working life) and ‘profitability’ (i.e. how well the operations have met the needs of the learner and the world of work, and have the resources been used in an optimal way) of the qualifications, programmes and other operations. The purpose of VET provider self-evaluation is to recognise strengths and targets to be developed. The ministry offers non-compulsory criteria for self-evaluation to support the process.

The national VET steering includes legislation and regulations related to financing and qualification requirements. It also includes quality strategy, quality award competition, government subsidies for quality improvement, supporting materials produced by the ministry and the agency and criteria for self- and peer evaluation.

According to the VET legislation, VET providers also have to participate regularly in external evaluations of their operations and quality management systems and publish the main results of those evaluations. External evaluation includes the quality assurance of competence demonstrations and competence assessment made by the working life committees and evaluations made by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre.

Supervision of qualifications

Working life committees are responsible for the supervision of qualifications. Their aim is to ensure the quality and working life orientation of VET. They are statutory bodies of elected officials, appointed by the Finnish National Agency for Education to manage a public duty.

The committees’ duties are:

• ensuring the quality of the implementation of competence demonstrations and assessment;

• participating in the development of qualification structure and vocational qualifications;

• processing learners’ rectification requests concerning competence assessments.

Working life committee members handle these tasks for three years, in addition to their regular duties. A maximum of nine members may be appointed to each working life committee. They must represent employers, employees, teachers and, if self-employment is common within the sector in question, self-employed professionals. There are 39 working life committees. Each working life committee is responsible for one or more qualifications. Working life committees participate in developing the qualification structure and in designing the qualification requirements. They also participate in quality assurance of skills demonstrations and assessment through national feedback, follow-up and evaluation data, and may also visit the skills demonstrations events, when necessary. Finally, they handle the requests related to the rectification of assessment.

Quality assurance of VET providers

The legislation on VET gives education providers a great deal of freedom in deciding on the measures concerning their education provision, use of public funding and quality management. The legislation obliges the providers to evaluate their training provision and its effectiveness as well as to participate in external evaluations. This means that the education providers need to have their own operating system that contains relevant and functional quality management measures (selected by VET providers).

Self-evaluation and external evaluation supports VET providers’ continuous improvement and results-oriented performance. Through evaluation, providers obtain information about major strengths and development needs. VET providers monitor, assess and analyse results achieved systematically through means such as surveys, quantitative indicators and self-evaluation. In VET, data and information are most often collected through queries ([37]VET provider collects feedback from learners twice: at the beginning of studies and at the end.) and assessments of learning outcomes. The VET provider collects the feedback from learners and saves the learners´ answers in the online system that has been developed for this purpose. The Ministry of Education and Culture and the Finnish National Agency for Education have access to the results.

External evaluation of training is frequently ([38]The term used in the legislation.) carried out, for example, by the Finnish Education Evaluation Centre. Internal audits, benchmarking and peer reviews are other methods employed in evaluation.

Learner feedback

Starting from 2020, one sixth of effectiveness-based funding will be granted to VET providers based on the feedback from learners. The feedback is collected via a centrally designed questionnaire which learners answer twice: at the beginning of the studies and at the end, once the learner has demonstrated all the skills and competences needed for the qualification. Learner feedback and its collection are regulated in the legislation.

In the questionnaire, the learners respond to statements rating them on a five-point scale from one (strongly disagree) to five (strongly agree). At the beginning of their studies learners are required to rate statements relating to the following themes: flexibility of starting time of studies and content of the individual programme; accreditation of prior learning; and support and guidance needed. At the end of their studies, learners give feedback concerning the following themes: flexibility in studies; the ways in which teaching facilities and the learning environment supported studies; receiving support and guidance during studies; equity between learners and workers at the workplace; opportunities to study and learn in the workplace; gaining of entrepreneurial competence; and assessment of their individual competence and readiness for the working life and further studies.

New quality assurance guidelines

The new quality assurance guidelines are currently being discussed by stakeholders to be published by the end of 2019. Since 2011, VET quality strategy has been in place, drawn up by the Ministry of Education and Culture. The 2018 reformed system has increased the significance of the quality management, together with the providers’ role in managing VET. The new strategy is supposed to cover all parts of the national quality assurance system:

• VET providers’ quality management;

• national steering of VET;

• external evaluation of VET;

except the method that VET providers may select themselves.

Validation of non-formal and informal learning has relatively long and established roots in Finland and the legislation and policies are well developed and detailed. However, there is no one single law for this; laws and regulations for each field of education define validation separately. These fields include general upper secondary education, vocational education and training (including continuing VET), and higher education. The core message of the legislation is that validation of non-formal and informal learning is a subjective right of the individual and the competences of an individual should be validated regardless of when and where they have been acquired. Validation is based either on:

• documentation presented; or

• competence demonstration.

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

Equal opportunities are a long-standing fundamental principle of the Finnish education policy. The background of learners, including their financial circumstances, should not be a barrier to participation in education. Most education provision is publicly funded and free for learners from pre- primary to higher education levels. In addition, financial support for learners of all ages is available.

Financial support for full-time learners

Financial support is available for full-time VET learners. The main forms of support are study grants, housing supplements with transport subsidy and government guarantees for student loans. The first two of these are government-financed monthly benefits, while student loans are granted by banks.

Study grants

A study grant is available as soon as eligibility for child benefit finishes at the age of 17. The monthly amount before tax ([39]Learners pay taxes from their allowances if they receive income from other source(s).) is between EUR 38.50 and 249.01 depending on the age, marital status and type of accommodation.

Housing supplement and transport subsidy

The housing supplement covers 80% of the rent, but may not exceed EUR 201.60 per month. In addition, school transport subsidy is available when the distance between home and school exceeds 10 km and the monthly cost of travel is at least 54 euro.

Government guarantees for student loans

The government guarantees that student loans (with some exceptions) are available to learners who are receiving a study grant. A loan guarantee can, however, also be granted to learners, who are not receiving a study grant, if they live with their parent and they are 18–19 years of age and attend a secondary level education institution, or if they are under 17 and live alone.

Student loans are available from banks operating in Finland. The lending bank will check the loan guarantee details with the social insurance institution of Finland (Kansaneläkelaitos or Kela) when granting a loan. Interest, repayment and other terms and conditions applying to the loan are agreed between the bank and the learner. The amount of the loan is EUR 300 per month (in secondary education for learners under age 18) or EUR 650 per month (in secondary education for learners of age 18 or older )

Learning material supplement

Although upper secondary education is free of charge, learners are required to buy their own learning materials (for instance, books, toolsets and any other materials). A learning material supplement of EUR 46.80 per month (equal to approximately EUR 1 400 for three semesters) is to be granted from August 2019 onwards for VET learners if they are:

  • between age 17 and 19 and living with their parents/guardians;
  • 17 years old and living on their own; or
  • under age 17 and their parents’ annual income is less than EUR 41 100.

Study leave for employees

All employees in a contractual and public service employment relationship are entitled to study leave when the full-time employment relationship with the same employer has lasted for at least one year ([40]In one or multiple periods.). The maximum length of study leave with the same employer is two years over a period of five years. If the employment has lasted for less than a year, but for at least three months, the maximum length of study leave is five days.

The studies must be subject to public supervision. The study leave is unpaid unless otherwise agreed with the employer.

Employment Fund support for adult learners

The Employment Fund administered by social partners of the Finnish labour market supports employees’ professional development leading to a qualification. In 2015, the Employment Fund granted EUR 157 million in adult education allowances and scholarships for qualified employees.

Adult education allowance

An adult education allowance is available to employees and self-employed people who wish to go on a study leave for at least two months. The allowance is a legal right and can be granted to an applicant who has a working history of at least eight years (or at least five years by 31 July 2010), and who has been working for the same employer for at least one year. To qualify for the allowance, the applicant must participate in studies leading to a qualification or in further vocational training organised by a Finnish education institution under public supervision. The duration of the allowance is determined on the basis of the applicant’s working history and ranges from 2 to 15 months. Since 1 August 2010, the amount of the allowance has been equal to the amount of the earnings-related unemployment allowance. For example, in 2019, on the basis of a monthly salary of EUR 2 000, a learner will receive a gross education allowance of EUR 1 185.34 ([41]https://www.tyollisyysrahasto.fi/en/benefits-for-adult-students/full-adult-education-allowance/).

Scholarships for qualified employees

A scholarship is available for those who have completed a vocational, further or specialist qualification. The amount of the one-time scholarship is EUR 390 and it is tax-free. The scholarship must be applied for within a year after completing the qualification.

Depending on the agreement between employer and employee, an employer who takes on an apprentice may receive training compensation to cover the costs of training provided at the workplace. The amount of compensation to be paid to the employer is agreed separately with employer and VET provider as part of each apprenticeship contract. Average training compensation varies between EUR 100-200 per month for initial VET qualification and EUR 10-100 per month for continuing VET. It is funded by the municipal funds and is paid either by the local apprenticeship centre or the education institution providing apprenticeship training.

Guidance and counselling start at the beginning of basic education and continue through all education levels. The guidance and counselling provided within the education system are complemented by guidance services offered by public employment offices.

In upper secondary VET, guidance counsellors play a key role in coordinating, planning and implementing guidance and counselling. VET learners have a right to receive guidance and every VET provider has a guidance counsellor available (providers can share this service).

Teachers also play a big role in giving guidance for learners. But guidance is also an integral part of the work of all teachers. A teacher’s task is to guide and motivate the learners to complete their qualifications, support them in the planning of their further studies, help them to find their strengths and develop their learning skills. Guidance and counselling should enable all pupils to reach the best results possible for them. In the workplace, guidance is coordinated by a qualified trainer.

Teachers working as guidance counsellors in Finnish schools must have a teacher training qualification at Master’s level, supplemented by studies in guidance and counselling.

The topics covered by guidance and counselling include different education and training options and the development of learners’ capabilities to make choices and solutions concerning education, training and future career. Educational support and guidance also covers areas such as support for learning according to the individual capacity of the learners, school attendance and learner welfare.

There have been few major changes in guidance and counselling in recent years but, within the 2018 VET reform, the role of guidance and counselling has been emphasised. VET was made more individual and flexible for learners.

Learners’ individual needs and existing competences are taken into account in all vocational studies. A personal competence development plan is prepared for each learner. The plan is drawn up by the teacher or guidance counsellor together with the learner and, when applicable, a representative from the world of work. The plan identifies and recognises the skills previously acquired by the learner and outlines what kind of competences the learner needs and how they will be acquired in different learning environments.

In addition to guidance and counselling related to learning methods and practices, the personal competence development plan includes information on necessary supportive measures. The support received by a learner may include special teaching and study arrangements due to learning difficulties, injury or illness, or studies supporting learning abilities.

Please also see:

Vocational education and training system chart

Tertiary

Programme Types
Not available

Post-secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 5

Specialist VET,

WBL varies

ISCED 454

Work-based specialist VET, tailored individually, leading to EQF level 5, ISCED 454 (Erikoisammattitutkinto)
EQF level
5
ISCED-P 2011 level

454

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

19+

Usual completion age

19+

Length of a programme (years)

The duration depends on a person´s prior learning; usually it is less than 2 years ([59]Duration depends on the prior learning of the student, especially in the case of further and specialist vocational programmes, and is defined in the personal competence development plan of each learner.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

It is possible to collect moderate student fees; on average 15% of the costs of the training.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship;
  • programmes that comprise work-based learning but are not apprenticeships or fall under a training agreement category.
Main providers

The most common type of VET providers is vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and service sector) ([61]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. a car manufacturer) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

The share of work-based learning (WBL) is individually planned for each learner in the personal competence development plan.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship training contract.
Main target groups

Specialist vocational qualifications (continuing VET) are for adults who usually have work experience or other prior learning.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Admission to further vocational qualifications is decided on a case-by-case basis, taking work experience into consideration. However, work experience or prior qualifications are not a precondition for enrolling.

Assessment of learning outcomes

No final examinations exist in VET. Once learners successfully complete all the studies included in their personal competence development plans, the VET provider grants a certificate for the entire qualification or for one or more units of the qualification. All VET programmes ensure eligibility for higher education studies.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The national qualification requirements define the required vocational competence, principles of assessment and how the competence is demonstrated. They are drawn up by the Finnish National Agency for Education in cooperation with working life partners ([62]Representatives of the employees/self-employed and employers (altogether called ‘working life’ in Finland).).

Each qualification has a number of competence points:

  • 180 for initial/upper secondary vocational qualifications;
  • 120/150/180 for further vocational qualifications;
  • 160/180/210 specialist vocational qualifications.
Examples of qualifications

Specialist vocational qualification in horse care and management ([63]The specialist vocational qualification in horse care and management comprises four competence areas and qualification titles (in parentheses):
- managing horse stables operations (head groom);
- working as a specialist in farriery (farrier (SQ));
- equestrian sports management (equestrian sports manager);
- riding instruction (riding instructor (SQ)).
)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter the labour market
    • employed full time
    • employed and in education;
  • continue with further education.
Destination of graduates

NB: 2016 data (most recent).
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017([64]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170673)) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

General education subjects

N

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational study units:

  • basic and field-specific study unit(s) (compulsory);
  • specialised study units (compulsory and optional);
  • communication and interaction competence;
  • mathematics and science competence;
  • citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

Secondary

Click on a programme type to see more info
Programme Types

EQF 4

Initial VET programmes

WBL varies

ISCED 354

Mainly school-based VET programmes (also available as apprenticeship) leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (Ammatillinen perustutkinto)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

10

Usual completion grade

12

Usual entry age

16

Usual completion age

19

Length of a programme (years)

3 ([44]Duration depends on the prior learning of the student, especially in the case of further and specialist vocational programmes, and is defined in the personal competence development plan of each learner.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

Y

Is it continuing VET?

N

Is it offered free of charge?

Y

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship;
  • programmes that comprise work-based learning but are not apprenticeships or fall under training agreement category.
Main providers

The most common type of VET provider is vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and service sector) ([46]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. a car manufacturer) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

=70-80% ([47]The share of work-based learning (WBL) is individually planned for each learner in the personal competence development plan.)

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship training contract.
Main target groups

A vocational upper secondary qualification (initial VET) is designed for young people who may not have any work experience and for adults who, for example, don´t have any formal qualification or who want to change their profession.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Admission to initial VET programmes requires a basic education graduation certificate.

Assessment of learning outcomes

No final examinations exist in VET. Once learners successfully complete all the studies included in their personal competence development plans, the VET provider grants a certificate for the entire qualification or for one or more units of the qualification. All VET programmes ensure eligibility for higher education studies.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The national qualification requirements define the required vocational competence, principles of assessment and how the competence is demonstrated. They are drawn up by the Finnish National Agency for Education in cooperation with working life ([48]Representatives of the employees/self-employed and employers (altogether called ‘working life’ in Finland).).

Each qualification has a number of competence points:

  • 180 for initial/upper secondary vocational qualifications;
  • 120/150/180 for further vocational qualifications;
  • 160/180/210 for specialist vocational qualifications.
Examples of qualifications

Initial vocational qualification in horse care and management ([49]Qualification holders manage daily stable maintenance and horse care tasks and are able to carry out the essential maintenance tasks associated with horse care, such as care of hooves and tack. In addition to basic competence in the field, qualification holders have specialist skills to work either as a groom or a riding instructor in various sectors of the horse industry.The qualification titles produced by the vocational qualification in horse care and management are groom and riding instructor.)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter the labour market
    • employed full-time
    • employed and in education;
  • continue with further education.
Destination of graduates

NB: 2016 data (most recent).
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017([50]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170673)) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

General education subjects

Y

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational study units:

  • basic and field-specific study unit(s) (compulsory);
  • specialised study units (compulsory and optional).

In addition to the above, all initial vocational qualification programmes include study units that consist of common rather than specific vocational competence:

  • communication and interaction competence;
  • mathematics and science competence;
  • citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

Y

Key competences help students to keep up with the changes in society and working life. In the wake of the 2018 VET reform, key competences are no longer addressed as a separate part of vocational competence. They have been modified so that key competences are included in all vocational skills requirements and assessment criteria.

The key competences for lifelong learning are: digital and technological competence; mathematics and science competence; competence development; communication and interaction competence; competence for sustainable development; cultural competence; social and citizenship competence; and entrepreneurial competence.

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

The share of vocational upper secondary (IVET) learners in 2017 was 73% of all VET learners ([51]https://vipunen.fi/en-gb/_layouts/15/xlviewer.aspx?id=/en-gb/Reports/Ammatillinen%20koulutus%20-%20opiskelijat%20-%20aikasarja_EN.xlsb).

EQF 4

Further VET,

WBL varies

ISCED 354

Work-based further VET, tailored individually, leading to EQF level 4, ISCED 354 (ammattitutkinto)
EQF level
4
ISCED-P 2011 level

354

Usual entry grade

12+

Usual completion grade

12+

Usual entry age

19+

Usual completion age

19+

Length of a programme (years)

The duration depends on a person´s prior learning; usually it is less than 2 years ([52]Duration depends on the prior learning of the student, especially in the case of further and specialist vocational programmes, and is defined in the personal competence development plan of each learner.)

  
Is it part of compulsory education and training?

N

Is it part of formal education and training system?

Y

Is it initial VET?

N

Is it continuing VET?

Y

Is it offered free of charge?

It is possible to collect moderate student fees; on average 15% of the costs of the training.

Is it available for adults?

Y

ECVET or other credits
Learning forms (e.g. dual, part-time, distance)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship;
  • programmes that comprise work-based learning but are not apprenticeships or fall under a training agreement category.
Main providers

The most common type of VET providers is vocational institutions (owned by municipalities, industry and service sector) ([54]Some VET providers are foundations or limited companies; they are categorised as ‘private’ but municipalities usually have shares in such companies/foundations.). They provide education and training to more than 75% of initial VET learners. Specialised (usually owned by one private company or association, e.g. a car manufacturer) and special needs (usually owned by municipalities and associations, e.g. Organisation for Respiratory Health) vocational institutions, fire, police and security service institutions (national) and folk high schools, sports institutions, music schools and colleges (local) account for less than 10% of learners in initial VET. Vocational adult education centres (public and regional) mostly provide further and specialist VET.

Share of work-based learning provided by schools and companies

The share of work-based learning (WBL) is individually planned for each learner in the personal competence development plan.

Work-based learning type (workshops at schools, in-company training / apprenticeships)
  • training agreement;
  • apprenticeship training contract.
Main target groups

Further vocational qualifications (continuing VET) are for adults who usually have work experience or other prior learning.

Entry requirements for learners (qualification/education level, age)

Admission to further vocational qualifications is decided on a case-by-case basis, taking work experience into consideration. However, work experience or prior qualifications are not a precondition for enrolling.

Assessment of learning outcomes

No final examinations exist in VET. Once learners successfully complete all the studies included in their personal competence development plans, the VET provider grants a certificate for the entire qualification or for one or more units of the qualification. All VET programmes ensure eligibility for higher education studies.

Diplomas/certificates provided

The national qualification requirements define the required vocational competence, principles of assessment and how the competence is demonstrated. They are drawn up by the Finnish National Agency for Education in cooperation with working life ([55]Representatives of the employees/self-employed and employers (altogether called ‘working life’ in Finland)).

Each qualification has a number of competence points:

  • 180 for initial/upper secondary vocational qualifications;
  • 120/150/180 for further vocational qualifications;
  • 160/ 180/210 specialist vocational qualifications.
Examples of qualifications

Further vocational qualification in horse care and management ([56]The further vocational qualification in horse care and management comprises eight competence areas and seven qualification titles (in parentheses): provision of equine-assisted services (provider of equine services); provision of horse breeding service (same as previous); provision of equine massage services (horse massage therapist); farriery (farrier); tack-making (tack-maker); riding instruction (riding instructor (FQ) ); training and coaching riding horses (trainer of young riding horses); provision of training services in harness racing (trainer of trotters).)

Progression opportunities for learners after graduation

Graduates can:

  • enter the labour market
    • employed full time
    • employed and in education;
  • continue with further education.
Destination of graduates

NB: 2016 data (most recent).
Source: Education Statistics Finland (Vipunen): https://vipunen.fi/

Awards through validation of prior learning

Y

The Vocational Upper Secondary Education and Training Decree (673/2017([57]https://www.finlex.fi/fi/laki/alkup/2017/20170673)) defines the principles for recognising prior learning. Each student´s personal competence development plan must include recognition of prior learning. Prior learning acquired in training, working life or other learning environments has to be recognised as part of the qualification. The recognition of prior learning must be done in all VET qualifications: in vocational, further and specialist qualifications.

General education subjects

N

All programmes leading to a qualification include vocational study units:

  • basic and field-specific study unit(s) (compulsory);
  • specialised study units (compulsory and optional);
  • communication and interaction competence;
  • mathematics and science competence;
  • citizenship and working life competence.

The common units may be included in further and specialist qualifications but only if this is seen as necessary when making the personal competence development plan.

Key competences

N

Application of learning outcomes approach

Y

Share of learners in this programme type compared with the total number of VET learners

VET available to adults (formal and non-formal)

Programme Types
Not available