Transition from school to work is a challenge for a lot of young people. Many are not able to enter apprenticeship or further education due to a lack of basic and social skills. Adequate support measures are needed. Since January 2014, the nation-wide scheme AFit counteracts and offers support to young people in transition.
The programme’s target group are young people between 15 and 21 (24 in case of documented special needs) who lack cultural and social skills. AFit helps improve their reading, writing, mathematics, English language, social skills and knowledge of new media to ease young people’s entry into education and training. Completion of the youth coaching programme is a prerequisite for participation in AFit.
The framework concept of AFit was established by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Ministry Service. The scheme combines hands-on activities with cognitive learning, supplemented by social group learning, sports and personalised coaching.
AFit is structured around four pillars.
- Knowledge workshops provide training and development of cultural skills and increase young people’s motivation to continue learning. Depending on specific needs, training of basic skills and concentration exercises are provided as well.
- Practical training modules focus on practice and group work in specific professional fields such as gardening, cooking, woodwork and office work. Training can be organised in-company or in cooperation with other companies. If in-company, training must be close to real working situations, but unhampered by economic pressure.
- Personalised coaching offered by youth coaches who assist young people during the AFit programme, regularly review young people’s progress, assist with project-related difficulties, as well as general life problems, such as social or health problems, debts, etc. and act as the contact person at interfaces.
- Sports and exercise is the fourth key element of AFit. Apart from preventing health problems, sports and exercise enable participants to enjoy an instant sense of achievement.
AFit aims to develop different competences, whether cognitive, practical, or social, within a structure that integrates these four areas. Participants discover their strengths and skills, and also understand which skills they lack and how they can learn and gain new ones.
AFit is part of the Austrian youth guarantee. During its pilot phase in 2014, it was offered in seven of nine federal states and a budget of EUR 12 million was invested. It is planned to implement it nationwide by end 2015.