3.3 Skills forecasting
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Austria's national and regional authorities, along with research institutions such as the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO), Statistics Austria (Statistik Austria), SORA Institute (Forschungs- und Beratungsinstitut SORA), JOANNEUM RESEARCH (in German), and the Institute for Research and Development in VET (ibw Austria) collaborate to forecast future labour needs and identify in-demand skills. They analyse demographic changes, technological advances, economic trends, and political conditions to produce labour market forecasts.
The Public Employment Service Austria (AMS) plays a crucial role in these efforts as a national key player. It provides continuously updated reports and tables with data on employment, unemployment, job offers, and apprenticeships (Arbeitsmarktdaten und Arbeitsmarktforschung). Additionally, AMS offers a range of tools to help jobseekers, employers, and policymakers understand occupational and skill trends.
- The AMS JobBarometer (formerly Skills Barometer) is an online information system that provides data on labour market trends in Austria. It helps to anticipate medium-term changes and upheavals in the domestic labour market and enables individuals to prepare for structural changes in employment and education. The tool is based on a wide range of information and data relevant to the demand side of the Austrian labour market, contextualised with additional information on the labour market, economic development and demographic trends (Methodische Dokumentation).
- The BMAW AMS Labour Force Barometer (BMAW AMS Fachkräftebarometer) is another tool used in Austria to assess labour shortages at the occupational level. It provides information on top occupations with job openings for the entire country and each state. The Barometer has three indicators capturing seasonal factors, structural labour demand elements, and economic developments. It analyses labour supply in relation to demand, offering insights into job market dynamics using Austrian Public Employment Service data. openings. Additionally, it incorporates data on the overall economic development of the job market in Austria by analysing online job advertisements from various platforms.
Developing young people's skills
The demands on young people's education are constantly increasing. In addition to good academic performance and specialised knowledge, the labour market also demands distinctive social and personal skills. In Austria, children and young people can acquire these competences at school, in university, during vocational training and in the context of extracurricular child and youth work through informal and non-formal learning.
Apprenticeship: dual vocational training
The Austrian dual vocational training system closely interlinks employment and entrepreneurship with education and the acquirement of skills. Dual vocational education and training offers business and practice-oriented tailor-made preparation for working life for all those who have completed compulsory schooling (Lehrberuf: Duale Ausbildung). Training is offered in approximately 200 different occupations. Young people who take up an apprenticeship receive on-the-job training in a company and also attend a vocational school on a part-time basis (dual training system). An apprenticeship lasts between two to four years depending on the apprenticeship type and ends with the successful completion of a final apprenticeship examination (Lehrabschlussprüfung). Apprenticeship is a form of initial vocational training, which combines a solid basic vocational training to become a skilled worker with numerous additional qualifications such as apprenticeship with Matura (A-levels) or the acquisition of additional competences within the framework of training alliances. After completion of the apprenticeship, further vocational training such as master craftsman's and qualification examinations or job-related courses at universities of applied sciences are available. Furthermore, international experience and internships are becoming increasingly important and young people can gain experience abroad during their apprenticeship. The Austrian system of apprenticeships is further depicted in the EU Apprenticeship toolbox. In this context, the recently introduced programme Education until 18 (AusBildung bis 18) obliges everyone under the age of 18 to attend school, vocational training or a preparatory programme, even after completion of the nine year compulsory schooling period. It thus contributes to prevent early school leaving, a reduction of youth unemployment, equal opportunities and a good start into (working) life for all young people and the development of skills recquired on the labour market.
Higher education: universities
By educating a highly skilled workforce, the Austrian universities (Universitäten) make an important contribution to the innovative future of the Austrian labour market. A characteristic of universities is their duality of excellent teaching and excellent research. Universities train future scientists who pass on their knowledge to the next generation and at the same time advance their own research activities. The 22 public universities differ in their size, their in some cases centuries-old history of origin, as well as in their focus. They offer a wide variety of programmes. Currently, more than three quarters of all students study at one of the 22 public universities, which form the heart of tertiary education in Austria. Universities are distinguished by the fact that they conduct teaching and excellent research at the highest level and that Article 81c of the Austrian Federal Constitution, Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz) guarantees their autonomy (as separate legal entities under public law). The universities are largely self-governing, even though they are financed by the public sector. For this purpose, the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research concludes performance agreements with the universities every three years, in which, in addition to a global budget, certain objectives are agreed (e.g. in the area of examination activity, supervision ratios or with regard to academic staff (basic research performance). Universities of applied sciences, on the other hand, are predominantly financed by the number of study places they offer.
Non-formal and informal learning: youth work
Youth associations have diverse offers to impart a wide range of skills and knowledge, from soft skills to technical and organisational skills, and support young people in their personal development and their civil society commitment. The Federal Youth Council (Bundesjugendvertretung) aimed to anchor global learning in extracurricular youth work through the project 'Our World', which offered free trainings for youth workers on the topics of consumption & lifestyle, nutrition & environment and participation & engagement. The Austrian Youth Information Centers, which handle about 160,000 enquiries every year, receive most enquiries in the fields of work and education. Therefore, they provide young people with comprehensive information and tips on the various educational pathways, inform young people about non-formal education opportunities at home and abroad, support them in recording the competences they have acquired in informal settings, and offer informal learning through workshops aimed at empowering young people. Currently they particularly promote their free and interactive digital workshops on information and media competence for young people, especially those aged 12 to 15. Open youth work enables young people to gain competences through informal learning in order to enable young people to lead a self-determined life and co-create their own education, currently focused on political education and participation, health literacy, cultural education, gender-reflective identity development, digital education and media literacy. The National Agency encourages learning experiences through non-formal and informal learning through the Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes, which enhance personal, social and professional competences of young people and help to develop a stronger European awareness.
Future for Youth Action programme
Launched in 2009, the Future for Youth Action programme (Aktion Zukunft Jugend) is a wider-based training guarantee for 20- to 24-year-olds aimed at opening up career perspectives for these young adults. In 2017, it has been extended to the age of 25. Under this programme, the Austrian Government guarantees unemployed young job-seekers aged 20-25 offers an employment, targeted training or a subsidised job within six months. The enhanced use of various labour market policy tools is intended to speed up integration into the labour market and open up new career prospects. Young people who are hard to place will receive individualised training support within the first six months of their registration with the public employment service, or special employment subsidies are used to help them (re-)enter the labour market.
In the 2018 annual average of unemployed 18-24-year-olds, 18 000 people had achieved the maximal level of mandatory education, making up 43% of all unemployed young people within this category at the time. Changes have been implemented based on federal regulations through funds stemming from PES-Programmes (AMS-Programme) that aim for vocational school graduation. Moreover, the Report on the Situation of Youth Employment and Apprentice Training in Austria (Bericht zur Lage der Jugendbeschäftigung und Lehrlingsausbildung in Österreich) shows that a total expenditure approximately amounting to €120 000 000 (€98 000 000 in 2017) was used to fund and enable 12 000 adolescents (10 000 in 2017) within the scope of the Guaranteed Training till 25 programme in 2018.
Qualification promotion: personnel and organisational development
The Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS) supports companies in improving the qualifications of their employees and further developing their organisations (Qualifizierungsförderung). This includes subsidies to promote the attendance at building trade schools (Bauhandwerkerschulen), measures to enhance new digital skills (described bellow), and subsidies for the upskilling of employees in the field of social services of general interest. Furthermore, AMS supports the further qualification of low-skilled workers with the aim of improving their skills in order to secure their jobs and increase their income. In the COVID-19 pandemic, impulse consulting on-demand is provided to help companies overcome the specific challenges of the crisis and subsidies support the costs of qualification for workers in COVID-19 short-time work.
New skills qualification programme (New Skills - Qualifizierung am Puls der Zeit)
Progressive digitalisation is rapidly changing all areas of life, including the labour market. More than 40 percent of jobs in Austria will undergo drastic changes and new job profiles will emerge. Therefore, the demands of companies towards their employees are changing. In 2019, the Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS) focused on digitalisation as part of the project series 'Standing Committee for New Skills'. The results of research and company workshops on the issure form the basis for targeted further training offers by the AMS and are made available to the companies as information for planning their in-company further training.
In 2009, the Management Board of Austria’s Public Employment Service established a Standing Committee on New Skills, which consists of representatives of the Service, social partners, business representatives, training institutions and VET experts. Working groups in specific sectors (e.g. construction, electronics, energy and environment technologies etc.) were tasked with drawing up curricula for target-oriented training programmes, based on the Committee’s knowledge of short and medium term skill requirements, taking into account underlying trends in the labour market, such as greening, globalisation and new technologies. Since 2011, these curricula were considered in the training programme ‘New Skills’. Workshops of the Standing Committee on New Skills cluster meetings were summarised, conclusions drawn and respective recommendations were given to various addressees, such as policy makers and the education system, PES, continuing education and training (CET) providers. In the case of legislative approaches, the involvement of stakeholders is almost always secured by a consultation and review process of draft regulations.
Programmes to train skilled workers
In 2013, the programme 'professionals/skilled workers scholarships’ (Fachkräftestipendium) has been introduced to reduce skills bottlenecks. It supports the training of low and medium-skilled workers and job seekers in occupations with labour demand. Also, the ‘Skilled workers intensive training’ (FacharbeiterInnen-Intensivausbildung, FIA) programme addresses registered jobseekers and gives them the opportunity to complete apprenticeship training in a shortened time. A specific objective is to qualify women for ‘future jobs’ (e.g. crafts and engineering, health). In Austria, programmes of the Public Employment Service always take into account actual skills shortages in the labour market more or less explicitly.