The Austrian education system (VET and TVET)

Vocational Education and Training in Austria is mainly based on the so-called “dual system”. The Austrian training guarantee scheme entitles each young person to enter an apprenticeship training and guarantees a training place. 

VET and the Dual System in Austria

The “dual vocational training system” is an apprenticeship training that is regulated by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Labour and the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Culture. Apprenticeship training can be started after 9 years of compulsory schooling, usually at the age of 15.

The dual vocational training takes place at two different sites in parallel: a company and a vocational school  for apprentices.

The major part of the apprenticeship training in the dual system is the company-based practical training. Apprentices are employed in the company under a paid apprenticeship contract and complete main parts of their training in the real environment of a manufacturing plant or a service enterprise. Apprentices are fully integrated into the world of work and get full social insurance. 

Dual system apprenticeship training is applicable for youth in legally recognized apprenticeship trades. These skilled trades (presently approximately 240) are included in the list of apprenticeship trades ("Lehrberufsliste"). Hosting apprentices entails additional responsibilities for the company which are also regulated and monitored. 

Instruction in the part-time vocational school is organized in various ways: 

  • day-release system: courses run for a complete academic year and apprentices attend school for a minimum of one full or two half days a week. 
  • block-release system: courses are organised for a minimum of  four or  eight weeks (depending on the trade) per year and apprentices attend the whole duration of the course in one block.
  • seasonal-release system: depending on the occupational sector, classes may be held during a certain season only 

Companies which train apprentices are obliged to provide apprentices with the skills and know-how stipulated in the occupational profile; this ensures a uniform minimum standard of training. Companies which are not able to provide training which covers the whole occupational profile may avail of the possibility of complementary training within a training network. Thus, even small companies may contribute their share to apprenticeship training.
Apprenticeship training lasts for two to four years, in most cases, however, three years. In various cases, apprenticeship training can be completed in combination with a university entrance exam ("Matura", i.e. the 12th grade final examination). 

The training guarantee scheme of the Government of Austria

Under the training guarantee scheme of the Government of Austria, each youth interested  in entering apprenticeship training is entitled to a training place. Apprenticeship training under the dual system can be offered in two forms. Most frequently, apprentices apply for an apprenticeship position in a specific company, similar to applying for employment. In case apprentices cannot find a company which offers them an apprenticeship contract, they will be referred to a training place provided by an accredited training provider, such as BFI Wien. This form of apprenticeship training is called "Überbetriebliche Ausbildung" (in English translated as "supra-company training"). In this form, the accredited training provider assumes the role of a company, providing all the practical training elements which make up the major part of apprenticeship training. Apprentices in supra-company training are encouraged to switch over to the regular form of company-based apprenticeship training at some stage in the course of their apprenticeship.

For the academic year 2014/15, the Government of Austria has planned to provide approximately 11.300 places in supra-company training, at a cost of EUR 182 million.

In yet another programme, the Government of Austria also provides integrative supra-company training for youth with special needs (such as learning difficulties). Integrative supra-company training is similar to regular supra-company training, but gives the participants more time to obtain the chosen certificate. BFI Wien is also implementing supra-company apprenticeship training.