Overview of the Austrian approach
There are various activities used to anticipate skills needs in Austria, namely:
The AMS Skills Barometer, (2)
which makes use of different skills anticipation tools;
Quantitative forecasting tools, including forecasts of employment by sectors and occupations at the national as well at the regional level produced by the WIFO on behalf of the AMS, updated in 2014 for the period 2013-2020;
Sector studies, in particular involving key stakeholders in workshops (see the Standing Committee on New Skills, or Plattform Industrie 4.0); (3)
Projecting skills demand at the regional level, such as platforms and partnerships involving key stakeholders that use a range of data to assess future skills needs established in some of the provinces (federal state).
Stakeholders are actively involved in skills anticipation. The Standing Committee for New Skills is a key coordinator of stakeholder participation. The Committee consists of AMS representatives, social partners, business representatives, training institutions and VET experts.
Skills anticipation activities have the following objectives:
To provide information to assist the AMS to better target skills training and match people to jobs; (4)
To improve the knowledge base to assist in offsetting the emergence of skills shortages;
To provide skills information to policymakers at different levels, as well as educational institutions, social partners, workers, job-seekers, (5)
and education providers; (6)
To reduce skills mismatches starting with the provision of secondary education. (7)
There is no legal framework for skills anticipation nor are there formal procedures to use the results. There is, however, a legal requirement to produce a list of skills shortage occupations annually that is used to identify occupations for which migrants from outside the EU are eligible (the ‘Red-white-red-card’ system).|
There is no single recognised authority responsible for the governance of skills anticipation, though much of the skills anticipation that takes places is under the auspices of the AMS. At national level, the main actors are the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Arbeit, Soziales und Konsumentenschutz, BMASK, or Sozialministerium), the Federal Ministry of Education (Bundesministerium für Bildung, BMB), and the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy (Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Wirtschaft, often BMWFW). The AMS is responsible to the BMASK.
Respectively, the regional Authorities (8) in the nine provinces (regions/federal states) bear the responsibility for the skills anticipation activities at that level. The AMS also has a governance role in the provinces.
The role of stakeholders
The most important stakeholder and end-user of skills anticipation is the AMS. It also commissions studies on skills anticipation for use in assisting jobseekers. In particular, it has commissioned studies and forecasts to gather information on future skills developments and skills demands to help direct them in designing their own training courses and programmes, and also to disseminate findings for wider use.
The involvement of social partners in skills anticipation is, in general, strong. The social partners, together with the Austrian AMS, are members of the Standing Committee for New Skills. They are also typically involved at provincial and local level skills anticipation activities. Additionally, stakeholders are involved in skills anticipation at the regional level through regional, non-governmental institutions such as the Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammern). Such institutions carry out or commission skills anticipation studies/exercises on an ad hoc basis. Although many stakeholders are involved in the different skills anticipation activities, there is no coordination amongst the different elements of skills anticipation.
There are a wide number of stakeholders engaged in skills anticipation at national and local levels, building on the well-developed system of social partnership in the country. For example, the regional platforms, and the Standing Committee for New Skills of AMS, working at the national level, bring together various stakeholders. The Standing Committee for New Skills can be seen as an example of good practice for involving relevant stakeholders in identifying current and future skills requirements and designing relevant training curricula for some occupations. The stakeholders represented in the Standing Committee for New Skills are responsible for drawing up recommendations to be used at policy level. They also advise on changes in curricula for targeted training programmes, based on the Committee’s knowledge of short- and medium-term skills requirements, taking into account underlying trends in the labour market, such as “green” technologies and skills, globalisation, and the diffusion of new technologies.
Skills anticipation data are used by a variety of target groups, including AMS staff, individuals using the advisory services provided by AMS, those who are in charge of coordinating education institutions at secondary, upper-secondary and higher levels, as well as the social partners and individual employers. (9) The AMS is primarily concerned with assisting jobseekers find jobs and employers to fill vacancies. As such, educational institutions use skills anticipation results to alter their course provision; nonetheless, there is evidence that the AMS is more relevant to the design and delivery of apprenticeships than to higher education provision. (10)
The Skills Barometer (see section 2.1) was constructed by the AMS, targeting young people making decisions about their careers, careers counsellors, AMS advisers, those working in educational institutions, employers, jobseekers, and policymakers.
Funding and resources
Funding for the skills anticipation activities has been mainly provided by the national government. The AMS had an overall budget for research of 4.4 million Euros for 2015, while the budget for skills anticipation activities was approximately half a million Euros. European Social Fund (ESF) funding has been used to only a limited extent, mainly for activities aimed at identifying the skills demands of companies at the regional level and the development of training programmes to address these.