1. Structure of the Austrian system of education and training (ET)

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1 Institut für Höhere Studien Institute for Advanced Studies Short Statement Paper for the International Conference on Vocational Education and Training Reform University of Oxford, September 27 th 28 th Lorenz Lassnigg 1. Structure of the Austrian system of education and training (ET) Figure 1 shows some basic assets of the Austrian VET system: - Compulsory education is tracked at the lower secondary level, with a selective academic track (Academic secondary school) and a general track which includes achievement levels in main subjects (General secondary school), the majority of pupils from the academic track follow up at upper secondary level or change to upper level VET-colleges, a smaller proportion of pupils from the general track follow up to academic qualifications, mainly via upper level VET-colleges. - The VET system includes both, a strong dual apprenticeship system and fulltime VET schools and colleges with many specialised programmes, particularly in industry and crafts related areas. - The system consists of three tracks, with the selective VET-colleges (Upper vocational school) providing credentials equivalent to the academic upper level school (university access), apprenticeship and intermediate level VET schools compete to some extent for pupils VET-colleges are growing, the other tracks rather loose pupils. On top of apprenticeship there is another step of qualification of master craftspeople which is required to run an enterprise in several trades (Meisterausbildung). - VET schools start at grade 9 (age 15) within compulsory education, and apprenticeship starts at grade 10 (age 16) after the end of compulsory education thus there are two steps where main transitions appear, first at grade 9 (where pupils choose between VET colleges, VET schools, and a one year vocational preparatory school that is not very popular), and second at grade 10 where many transitions from fulltime school to apprenticeship take place (often when achievement was not successful). - Some part of an age cohort is lost after grade 9 (early school leavers), about half of those young people do not acquire a full certificate of compulsory education, also pupils from special schools do not receive any credentials. Access to apprenticeship does not require any formal credential, one has to find an accredited firm willing to conclude an apprenticeship contract, in that case access to parttime school is compulsory. Firms, however, have their selection strategies which differ according to many characteristics. - Higher education is rather small, with universities as the dominating sector, and two tracks of nonuniversity institutions included: traditional post-secondary institutions (predominantly teacher education for non-academic schools), and a new selective polytechnic sector (Fachhochschule) which is frequently chosen by graduates from VET colleges, often from a similar specialisation. - Transition to higher education requires basically a qualification from the academic track or from upper level VET colleges (Matura examination). Polytechnics choose their students, and universities have recently started to develop selection procedures on top of the Matura. Additional procedures to get access to higher education without a Matura from initial education have been developed also (polytechnics can choose mature students without Matura, however, seldom do that; a separate examination (Berufsreifeprüfung) has been established in the end of the 1990s which has high acceptance from students. A-1060 Wien Stumpergasse 56 Tel: +43-(0) Fax: +43-(0)

2 Figure 1: The system of education (proportions show approximately the participation by age) - The VET system provides formal qualifications at the different levels which are related to employment requirements. As running an enterprise requires in many trades a formal VET qualification, the structure of programmes in apprenticeship is regulated not only by education law but also by an employment regulation (Gewerbeordnung), and there are also formal links to the VET schools and colleges in that respect. The VET colleges in technology also provide access to a formal qualification after some years of practice (non academic engineer, those qualifications are recognised as higher education in EU regulations). - The VET system and also higher education is strongly segmented by gender, the traditional access patterns (males into technology, females into social, personal, and administrative services) are undergoing change only very slowly. - The increasing number of young people with a migration background often lack the requirements to participate on equal terms with native young people in VET. Good programmes for their support have been developed in compulsory education, however, there is a lack of resources for their full implementation (thus they are strongly represented in special schools, which do not provide the credentials to follow up in fulltime VET schools). - The governance structure of the VET system is complex and scattered: VET schools are under the responsibility of the federal ministry of education, firm level apprenticeship training is governed by the social partners and the federal ministry of economic affairs, the polytechnics are governed by an accreditation body, the federal ministry of education, and the regional governments. The enterprise sector is strongly involved via apprenticeship, and also via several bodies in VET schools and colleges 2

3 2. Drivers of VET reform Austrian VET system is considered by the main stakeholders to be strong and successful. Reforms in the Austrian VET system are mainly incremental reactions to changes and pressures, and often long periods of policy formation are needed until decisions are taken ( never change a successful system, or: nothing fails like success ). Important drivers for change are the processes of internationalisation, namely European integration and the opening up of the neighbouring countries and their accession to the EU. Many impulses for the policy discourse come from the international level, in particular from the OECD and the EU. Sometimes reform impulses in the policy community are more advanced than the environment can accept (e.g., a new curriculum for lower secondary schools trying to shift emphasis more to the new dynamic competences, or plans to establish a framework for quality development and quality assurance). - To some extent a negative driver is the strong impetus for savings in the public budget in combination with the comparatively high expenditures for education and training, which points to the need for the effective use of resources, rather than to projects which require additional resources. - The European policy attempts might be seen as a driver for reform. The interim report to the Lisbon follow-up agenda includes a section about VET. Quality assurance and quality development is a key issue for the whole education system, and for VET schools. Transparency, permeability, access for disadvantaged and older people, and anticipation of qualification needs are further topics mentioned. The development of a strategy for lifelong learning, with a focus on continuing and adult education and training, is an area for reform. The increase of permeability of education and training pathways is mentioned as an important issue on this agenda, however, this issue has been already on the agenda since the 1970s with limited results. - The economic cycle, and problems on the youth labour market, which are also related to the development of the apprenticeship market, are another drivers which lead to reform debates and policy measures periodically. Disadvantaged young people suffer from problems of access to education and training, in particular apprenticeship gives some pressure because many of those young people would prefer this option, however, the firms are reluctant to accept them. - The ageing society gives impulses for reform debates. On the one hand the proportion of young people is declining, and qualification shortages are foreseen to some extent, also leading stakeholders to emphasise more strongly the human resource potential of girls and women. On the other hand, further qualification of adults will be needed more strongly. 3. VET Reforms implemented and envisaged Main reforms in the VET system implemented since the 1990s were the following: - The establishment of the Polytechnic sector (Fachhochschule) 1993 which also brought a new model of governance to Austria, based on accreditation, quality assurance, and emphasis on outcomes, as opposed to the traditional system of input control. - The creation of the Vocational Access Examination (Berufsreifeprüfung) 1997 as another path giving access to higher education for people who did not acquire a Matura in their initial education (apprenticeship or intermediate VET school). - Ongoing curricular developments in fulltime VET schools and colleges towards a broadening of programme profiles (less specialisation, particularly in technology programmes), towards more local 3

4 responsibility and profiling institutions (which sometimes might lead to more specialisation), and towards the use of project methods in cooperation with the enterprise sector in VET colleges. - A set of measures to improve access for disadvantaged young people to VET options has been developed since the 1980s, and reinforced due to the EES in 1989, including a support structure for young people who cannot find an apprenticeship contract (Jugendausbildungs-Sicherungs-Gesetz providing institutional forms of apprenticeship), measures to increase the supply of training, and more individualised forms of apprenticeship (Vorlehre, Anlehre, since 2003 Integrated Vocational Training - cutting down programmes to smaller pieces, or allowing individualised prolongation and adaptation of programmes) Important reform projects currently envisaged and under debate in the VET area are the following: - The establishment and implementation of a common framework for quality development and quality assurance in the school sector of VET (project QIBB Qualität in der Berufsbildung). This activity is expressed as a strong priority throughout the school system, and also explicitly in VET schools, steps have been under progress for some years at several levels (a proposal for a framework and a set of web-based instruments exist, many schools are already undertaking projects, task forces are working about this in the administration, etc.), and this project has also been set as a priority in the Austrian EU presidency Further devolution of authority to VET schools and colleges, leading to more coordination and planning of VET at the local and regional levels. This activity is also expressed as a common priority in the Lisbon follow-up process, however, the shape of the reform is less clear so far. - Steps towards transparency and transferability of qualifications are taken at several levels by the participation in European and international activities, and accordingly, the development of structures at the national level (Bologna process, ECTS, Copenhagen process, Europass, diploma supplement, ECVET, development of school standards, etc.). A stronger emphasis on key qualifications (social, personal, methodological competences) in the Austrian system which is focused strongly on the specialised vocational skills and competences (Fachkompetenz) is expressed as a priority and poses a challenge in this context. - Improvement of procedures to measure the matching of qualification supply and demand, and of anticipation of future demand for qualifications and competencies. Some basic research has been commissioned about this issue, and some steps to work out more concrete planning have been taken. - Development of a strategy for lifelong learning, including a new overall governance system and new financing mechanisms (with vouchers at a regional level as a starting point). A task force for the development of a strategy has started to work recently. 4. Challenges, upcoming topics, discussion The Lisbon mid-term report mentions explicitly three challenges which will have to be met: - Further development of assessment and recognition of prior learning - Development of incentives for enterprises to increase their training investments - Development of a strategy for lifelong learning The recent decision from the European Court about the university access changes the basic structure of educational pathways, as so far the access to university was a right for people who had received a Matura without selection (so called open university access ). Now universities have been given the 4

5 right to select their students in the context of a reform which has strengthened the responsibility of the institutions. The currently starting activities aiming at the development of a National Qualification Framework in relation to the envisaged EQF will pose the challenge to assess and systematise the existing structure of qualifications, and to further develop the instruments for improvement of access, transparency, and permeability. A discourse about the future of the apprenticeship system has come up more markedly this year, strongly based on the demographic trends which is expected to increase the competition between apprenticeship and fulltime schooling. The debate has been put into the context of the development of a national qualification frame. For the first time there have been calls for a comprehensive reform of VET from employers representatives, which should revise the tracked and fragmented system towards more integration (e.g., stronger connection between apprenticeship and upper level programmes, and development of upper level apprenticeship programmes). Other issues are modularisation, and more flexible combinations between programmes, training of trainers, strengthening of entrepreneurship competences, etc. The Austrian VET system is strong and diverse, driven very much through trends of demography and changing preferences of young people, which are in turn influenced by the basic opportunity structure of the system. The qualifications are quite well accepted by employers, so structural changes are not easy. A key step was the implementation of the polytechnics which has brought new governance structures into the system. In addition, the European and international influence has given impetus to debates of several issues which had rather been neglected for a long time. An open issue is about the proper relationship between medium level qualifications and qualifications from higher education, and how the standard level of basic qualifications should be designed. There are clearly problems in the system to cope with disadvantaged young people, who are not successful in initial education. Their proportion might be smaller than in other countries, however, this should not diminish the attempt to find solutions. Internationalisation in the sense that also the needs of migrants should be served properly seems to be an important topic. The policy discourse appears to have taken up most of the main challenges, however, at the moment it is not possible to appraise how the current topics for reform will evolve through the coming years. 5

6 ANNEX (selected figures from Issue Nr. 7 December 2004, A1: Proportion of educational tracks at upper secondary level (grade 10) (Source: Schneeberger 2003, 15) 100% 8% 14% 21% 26% 50% 60% 52% 48% 41% 0% 1970/ * 1990/ /01 Apprenticeship TVSchools TVColleges Academic upp sec * estim ate A2: Educational attainment of the yrs old population by levels, ordering by medium level, 1999 (Source: EC Enterprise 2002, 33) D e n m a r k G e r m a n y U K S w e d e n J a p a n U S F i n la n d F r a n c e L u x e m b o u r g A V E U B e lg i u m N e th e r la n d s I r e la n d G r e e c e S p a in P o r tu g a l 3 9, 2 4 3, 2 3 5, 3 4 8, 7 5 0, 1 5 6, 5 6 4, 9 7 8, 8 2 0, 3 1 8, 9 2 6, 1 1 8, 0 2 3, 3 1 9, 1 1 3, 1 2 8, 5 3 8, 1 3 7, 7 7 3, 0 6 8, 2 6 7, 7 6 5, 4 6 3, 4 6 2, 7 5 9, 5 5 7, 6 5 0, 7 5 0, 5 4 8, 9 4 4, 6 4 4, 6 4 0, 7 3 7, 7 3 4, 3 2 0, 3 1 4, 2 1 1, 9 6, 1 L o w : I S C E D 0 / 1 / 2 M e d i u m : I S C E D 3 / 4 / 5 B H i g h : I S C E D 5 A / 6 6

7 A3: Percentage of those aged 22 who have successfully completed at least upper secondary education (ISCED 3), 2002 (Source: LFS) Finland Ire la n d France G r e e c e G e r m a n y A V E U * Luxem bourg Netherlands D enm ark Spain 44,9 89,3 87,7 87,3 86,5 85,6 82,9 82,6 82,1 77,4 76,6 74,2 73,9 72,9 66,8 66,6 (* U K m is s in g ) A4: Science and technology graduates per of 20-29yrs population, 2000 or 1999 (Source: EC 2002, 23) Ireland F r a n c e ( 9 9 ) U K F in la n d A V E U 1 4 * S p a in D enm ark (99) G e r m a n y Netherlands Luxem bourg 1, 8 1 1, 6 1 0, 6 9, 9 9, 7 8, 2 8, 2 7, 1 6, 3 5, 8 5, 4 1 6, , , 2 (* G reece m issing) 7

8 A5: Per cent of enrolment of students in VET and pre-vet programmes at ISCED 3 level, 1999 (Source: Lisbon 2004, 321) Netherlands Germ any Luxem bourg France A V E U * D enm ark Finland Spain Greece 2 5, , 2 5 7, 2 5 3, 6 5 3, 3 5 3, 2 4 7, 3 7 7, 9 7 0, 1 6 6, 6 6 5, 7 6 4, 7 6 4, 6 6 3, 7 (* Ireland, UK m issing) A6: Early school leavers, share of population between with only lower Secondary Education and not in Ed/Training, 2002 (Source: Lisbon 2004, 321) D enm ark Finland Germ any France Netherlands Greece Luxem bourg A V E U 1 3 * S p a in 8, 4 9, 3 9, 5 9, 9 1 0, 4 1 2, 4 1 2, 6 1 3, 4 1 5, 0 1 6, 1 1 7, 0 1 7, 2 2 4, 3 2 9, 0 4 5, 5 (* Ireland, U K m issing) 8

9 A7: Proportion female to male science and technology graduates per of 20-29yrs population, 2000 or 1999 (Source: EC 2002, 24-25) 0 % 1 0 % 2 0 % 3 0 % 4 0 % 5 0 % 6 0 % 7 0 % 6 3 % Ire la n d 6 2 % 6 2 % Italy (99) 6 1 % U K 5 0 % 4 9 % S p a in 4 8 % D enm ark (99) 4 8 % A V E U 1 3 * 4 4 % F r a n c e % F in la n d 3 9 % 3 4 % G e r m a n y 2 9 % 2 5 % N e th e r la n d s 2 2 % (* G reece, Luxem bourg m issing) A8: Proportion of VET at upper secondary level to the supply and gender imbalance of science technology graduates 20 70% ST graduates per yrs population 10 AUSTRIA female/male ST graduates per of 20-29yrs population 60% 50% 40% 30% R 2 = 0, % AUSTRIA % in VET programmes at ISCED 3 % in VET programmes at ISCED 3 9

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