Government of Austria – Written evidence (SMO0129)

House of Lords Select Committee on Social Mobility– Request for Evidence

Austrian response

  1. What is the system in Austria for preparing young people for the world of work?

Austria has a traditionally well-developed vocational training system. Roughly 80% of youths partake in some form of initial vocational training (attending school either full-time or in combination with in-service training). This represents the highest percentage among EU and OECD Member States. Young people have the option of completing vocational training through full-time schooling, as well as through the “dual” (in-service training combined with schooling) approach taken in Germany and Switzerland. There is a comprehensive safety net in place for those young people in danger of dropping out, who have already dropped out, or are experiencing difficulties during training: industry-wide training (guaranteed apprenticeship scheme), integrative training, manufacturing schools, youth and apprentice coaching as form of external supervision.

Vocational training systems with close ties to industry and in-service training generally prepare students well for emerging technological challenges arising e.g. through the so-called industry 4.0. 

  1. What options do young people have after they leave school to prepare them for the work place? How do they know about them?

Austrian labour market policies ensure that young people have several options to pursue either further education or enter the workplace, and support them in doing so. In 2008 and 2009 respectively, Austria adopted a guaranteed apprenticeship policy (‘Ausbildungsgarantie’) and established ‘Aktion Jugend Zukunft (Action Youth Future). A close meshed safety net is created through a combination of industry-wide training, youth coaching, manufacturing schools and projects specifically designed for young people experiencing difficulties during training. This strong focus on young people in labour market policy is also reflected in the allocation of funds. Further details on measures and information provided in the area of labour market policy can be found in the brochure ‘Jugend und Arbeit in Österreich’ (Youth and Work in Austria, available in German at:  

  1. How are they supported in deciding what route (university/ vocational/ other) to take?

Young people are provided with information on education, training and employment free of charge, e.g. through consultations offered by AMS (‘Arbeitsmarktservice’, Labour Market Service), AK (‘Arbeiterkammer, Chamber of Workers) and WKÖ (‘Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, Chamber of Trade, Commerce and Industry). Information and support is provided through consultations, skillset analyses, tests, workshops, career fairs, internet portals and many more.

  1. How are employers engaged in this process?

Austrian businesses are strongly represented through their Chamber of Industry, which enables them to participate in shaping the (state-mandated) curriculum for vocational training. Representatives contribute to providing information to young people through presentations at career fairs, at career information centres and in direct cooperation with schools. Many businesses offer visits to school classes and short internship schemes in the framework of school programmes. Roughly 300,000 businesses take on apprentices, with many more offering internship and trainee schemes for pupils at vocational schools.

  1. How are the positives and negatives for each route into the workplace available to young people communicated?

Austria has a comprehensive career information system, which is anticipated to continue growing in line with current government policy. Careers information is provided internally by schools, as well as by AMS, WKÖ ad AK (see also Q3).

  1. What is the Austrian government’s role in supporting young people during this transition? Who is responsible for providing support?

The Austrian federal government clearly favours the dual approach and commits itself to further developing the career information system. The Austrian system takes a holistic approach, which is potentially the main reason for its success. While many European countries focused on the educational aspects of dual training for a long time, only to shift to an entirely labour market oriented approach, Austria has traditionally approached the matter from both perspectives. This approach is reflected in the allocation of responsibilities for dual training among a variety of government departments (BMBF, BMWFW, BMASK and BMFJ). The role of the Austrian social partners should be emphasised in this respect, as their functions go beyond business representation and extend to tasks of a governmental nature. Cooperation between public authorities and the social partners is therefore crucial to the functioning of the Austrian dual training system.

Labour market policies provide many options for young people, particularly those struggling to enter the labour market (see also Q2).

The BMFJ is supporting the development of a national strategy to recognise informal and alternative forms of learning, in order to support education and career decisions in a low-threshold way. In line with this goal, the BMFJ has put the following measures into practice:


  1. What is the private sector expected to do? How are businesses encouraged to support young people in this process?

Austria has a long tradition of business-led apprenticeship schemes, intimately connected to the belief in the benefits of such schemes to business. State aid is limited to a small proportion of the apprentice salary, which is generally payable by the employer. Schooling, which runs in parallel to in-service training, is state-financed.

  1. What data is collected to monitor young people’s progression into work? How are those who do not go to university monitored?

Statistic Austria carries out comprehensive career monitoring, which includes the collection and analysis of data on education, social security and employment. In the autumn of 2015, figures contributing to the monitoring of the European Youth Guarantee will be transmitted to EMCO for the first time.

  1. What are the employment outcomes and likely career trajectories for young people in Austria who do not go to university?

In Austria, vocational training is a full-fledged alternative to university education. This includes the possibility of pursuing post-secondary or even tertiary vocational training, such as master craftman’s diplomas or courses of advanced lectures. This equivalence is also reflected in very similar salary expectations and levels of employability. It should also be noted that the Austrian system is highly permeable, as evidenced e.g. by dual or extra-occupational university courses. 


8 September 2015