High youth unemployment rates, skilled labour shortage, skills mismatches, and difficulties in the transition from education to the labour market have all raised interest in dual VET programmes (), both at European and Member State levels.
() Dual training is characterised by alternating school-based and company-based training stages.
As a result of demographic changes, the heterogeneity of apprenticeship beginners, competition from school-based VET programmes, and image problems, apprenticeship training has come under increasing pressure in recent years. However, statistical analyses and a survey among Austrian apprenticeship diploma holders about two years after graduation () reveal the many advantages of apprenticeship training: high satisfaction among apprentices with their training, smooth labour market integration, and comparatively (with the rest of Europe) low youth unemployment.
Apprenticeship training not only makes it considerably easier to enter the labour market but also has positive effects on employment satisfaction. Some 85% of apprenticeship graduates are employed at skilled worker level – in line with their qualification – two years after being awarded their diploma. Another 11% are already employed in an executive position. It follows that 96% assess integration in their company as positive, while 95% also enjoy their occupation. Most apprenticeship graduates rate their training in the company and at part-time vocational school as positive, and consider the content of training as highly usable. Around 85% would choose apprenticeship training again as their initial VET pathway.
Apprenticeship training boosts its graduates’ professional careers and reduces their risk of becoming unemployed, particularly in comparison with dropouts. While 80% of apprenticeship graduates are employed three years after successful graduation, only 38% of dropouts are still employed three years after their training. The likelihood of finding a place of work also increases with training success: the more successful graduates are in the exam to finish apprenticeship, the higher their share among the self-employed and people in dependent employment, and the lower their share among the unemployed. Although there is often criticism that career decisions need to be taken at a young age in Austria (choosing one of several education and training pathways at the age of 14), the collected data supports this early entry into apprenticeship. The older apprenticeship beginners are when taking up training, the more likely it is that they will drop out: 7.4% of apprenticeship beginners who were 15 years old when taking up their training dropped out in the survey period, while the share of dropouts among 25-year-olds was as high as 36.5%.
The fact that youth unemployment is comparatively low in Austria is attributable to the success of dual VET together, with a differentiated range of school-based VET programmes. At 10.6% (based on Eurostat), youth unemployment in 2015 was in the second most favourable position (behind Germany) and well behind the European average (EU-28) of 20.3%.
() Various studies on dual VET were commissioned by the economics ministry and conducted by ibw and öibf.