3.4 Career guidance and counselling
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Information on relevant educational pathways and career opportunities is of high importance to the individual planning of a young person’s career.
Compulsory career guidance in schools
In order to facilitate employment-related decision-making abilities and to provide optimal guidance, compulsory job orientation training was installed for all school types in 1998. Towards the end of the compulsory schooling period (seventh to ninth school year depending on the type of school), compulsory career guidance (Berufsorientierung, BO) classes take place. They are either implemented as a separate school subject or integrated into other subjects or projects. They inter alia aim to inform pupils on the possibilities of apprenticeship training. A fixed part of compulsory career guidance are work shadowing days, which aim to provide pupils with first practical experiences and insights into the world of work. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung) provides supporting material (Material zur Berufsorientierung) for teachers and pupils. It also initiated and funded the online platform schule.at, which provides an overview of information on job orientation including tools, events, databanks, workshops, etc. By providing the teaching material, the web platform and by the installation of a working group on the subject, the Ministry assures the quality of career guidance and counselling.
'ibobb' (Information, Counselling and Guidance for Education and Careers / Information, Beratung und Orientierung für Bildung und Beruf) includes all measures for both educational and vocational guidance at school. Decisions on educational or training paths are to be made along the lines of talents, regardless of gender and family, social and regional background. Schools support pupils to follow their individual best educational and vocational path towards becoming young self-reliant people. Basic competences for autonomous decisions are built in all subjects, career orientation lessons with a focus on the 7th and 8th or 11th and 12th grades (programme '18plus - Berufs- und Studienchecker' / 18plus - Career and Study Checker), practical experience in projects, and individual information and counselling by school and educational counsellors as well as external experts. The Website ibobb helps teachers in fulfilling these tasks.
Services of the Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS)
Alongside career guidance offered at school level, the Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS) has the legal mandate of providing career guidance. AMS offers information, counselling and advice at 72 career information centres (Berufsinformationszentren, BIZ), which are personal contact points for career guidance. The career guidance centres of AMS are equipped with self-information areas and offer both one-on-one and group counselling. Since 2009, a visit to a Career Information Centre has been part of the (in some school types) compulsory subject of career orientation for pupils in years seven and eight. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person counselling has been partially replaced by telephone consultation in order to contain the spread of the virus.
Additionally, AMS supports schools in their information activities by offering online information databases - such as the online career compass (Karrierekompass), the online wages and salaries compass (Gehaltskompass), an online encyclopaedia containing over 1800 professions (Berufslexikon), an online information system providing information on skills required for different professions (Berufsinformationssystem), more than 300 videos on different professions and businesses, and a large variety of brochures on diverse professions. AMS also provides lectures for classes, sector presentations, training for job applications, events for teachers and parents, job fairs, etc. These information campaigns also promote apprenticeship training. The AMS online guide Internet-Services provides a collection of online services and online guides.
Guidance by the social partners and professional associations
Other important actors in the field of career guidance are the social partner organisations, which run their own guidance and counselling centres. The Austrian Economic Chambers (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich, WKÖ)run the online portalbic.at, which provides information on different professions, career choices, application tips, and the opportunity to create a profile of interests. WKO, alongside the Economic Promotion Institute (Wirschaftsförderungsinsitut, WIFI) also awards a seal of quality for job orientation (Gütesiegel Berufsorientierung plus)to schools that are particularly committed in providing their students with career guidance. Similarly, the Chamber of Labour (Arbeiterkammer, AK) offers information on career guidance (Berufsorientierung) and an interest profile test on professions (Berufsinteressentest). AK provides teaching material, workshops and simulations games. Moreover, comprehensive information about the respective training programmes is provided by many sectoral and professional associations, as well as by a number of training companies.
Network job-related assistance (NEBA) and Youth Coaching (Jugendcoaching)
The network NEBA (Netzwerk berufliche Assistenz) is run by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Soziales, Gesundheit, Pflege und Konsumentenschutz) and offers youth coaching. In order to improve the educational background and the job market opportunities of young people, it is necessary to prevent early training dropouts. Particularly in this difficult phase of taking decisions regarding further education, young people and their legal guardians need professional consultation and assistance. The youth coaching offer is based on the principle of the voluntariness and is free of charge.
Youth Coaching has been installed in 2012. It supports young people with their transition from school to employment. Youth Coaching therefore aims to provide guidance and support to young people, who are facing difficulties in continuing or choosing their education pathways or who did already drop out of the education system/labour market. It shall thereby reduce the number of early school leavers (ESL). Youth coaching is a support option for young people at the end of compulsory schooling to find the individually suitable occupation. Young people at risk of leaving school early receive special support. Young people with impediments or special educational needs can access this service as well.
Youth Coaching is thus a very important measure with regard to early intervention as well as activation and (re-)integration. It also co-operates with prisons to support and prepare young delinquents to re-enter the education system. It targets both pupils in their last year of compulsory schooling and drop-outs up to the age of 19 (youth with disabilities up to the age of 25). Thus, suitable perspectives are indicated to young people at risk of social exclusion by counselling, guidance and case management.
'Fit for training' (AusbildungsFit, previously "Produktionsschulen"):
'Fit for training' (AusbildungsFit), which was called production schools until 2020, provides an exemplary practical approach at the interface between school and employment. In total, around 84 different providers offer AusbildungsFit training. Their goal is to offer structure, increase motivation, and provide both basic qualification and specialist knowledge in order to equip students with the skills necessary for their further school education or apprenticeship training. The one-year programme targets young people between 15 and 21 (in some cases 24), as well as people with special educational needs up to age 24. The training courses combine working in workshops and counselling with teaching through creativity and are supported by social workers. They also provide professional orientation. An example for AusbildungsFit is 'WUK work.space' in Vienna.
Project WUK work.space:
WUK work.spaceis a low-threshold labour market offer for young disadvantaged people up to 25 years. An inter-professional team provides both individual and group coaching to young people in order for them to determine and realize their individual career goals. The participants are enabled to work in practical workshops in diverse fields such as design, crafts, media and digital, technology and greenery. A coach assists them throughout the programme to review their progress, assist on the achievement of their goals. Opportunities to work in businesses are facilitated. Skills and knowledge necessary for further training is transmitted. Diverse sportive activities offer the possibility to try something new and a plan to offer future perspectives is elaborated. During the COVID-19 crisis, the project has been partially moved online.
Measures to increase the number of women in crafts and engineering careers
'Women into crafts, engineering and technology' (Frauen in die Technik, FiT) is a programme to encourage young women to enter skills training in non-traditional occupations where women make up less than 40% of the workforce. It contributes to opening up technical career paths to a larger number of women. It provides young women with career orientation and counselling in such fields as well as with internship opportunities in technical workspaces.
Measures for young people with a migration background
Young migrants are disproportionately affected by unemployment. According to the 2015 Youth and Work report by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Soziales, Gesundheit, Pflege und Konsumentenschutz), insufficient German language skills, low (recognised) skills level and a lack of information on possible training and occupations make it more difficult for young migrants to get a foothold in the labour market. As stated in the report, out of the average number of registered apprenticeship-seekers (6 300), 47 % had a migrant background. The large majority of migrants who have settled in Austria and are of working age enjoy legally secure and permanent labour market access. This signifies that integration measures no longer focus on the removal of legal barriers to labour market access, but rather on assistance to sustainable inclusion in the job market.
Young migrants are supported with guidance, counselling and skills training measures adjusted to their needs. This includes tailor-made educational and vocational guidance, counselling and support services, as well as employment projects. If upon completion of compulsory education these young people cannot be placed in a formal apprenticeship programme, they will be offered the opportunity to enter an equivalent apprenticeship programme in a supra-company training entity including recognised final exams. Young people who have dropped out of school or training, as well as young people with learning difficulties, who require special support, are invited to join AusbildungsFit. Young people from migrant backgrounds benefit to an above average degree from Youth Coaching. Young migrants are also encouraged to acquire basic qualifications, such as completing lower secondary school and improving their German language skills, in order to raise their skills level. Other labour market integration policies and programmes for this group include testing and analysing their skills, mentoring programmes and networking with and for women.
The Austrian Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS) regularly invites specialised external providers (e.g. Beratungszentrum für MigrantInnen / Guidance Centre for migrants) to its offices on counselling days for young people. Owing to their special mission and objectives, these providers ensure more detailed and comprehensive advice and assistance to adolescents. They can address problems a case worker of the public employment service cannot address. A special pilot project has been launched which supports young migrants who show potential for skills development or for the recognition of existing credentials obtained abroad. Moreover, the Managing Diversity programme of the Vienna Public Employment Service's office for young people is designed to create a better framework for the inclusion of this target group both in PES measures and in the labour market. Implementation of Managing Diversity involves several levels: measures are geared to the needs of the target group’s family context, counselling takes place within a suitable framework (e.g. counselling provided by staff of migrant background), measures are implemented within training courses provided by the employment service, and employers are assisted in matters of diversity management.’
The education and career fair BeSt3 – Job, Training, and Education Fair
BeSt³ is the largest fair for careers, study and further education in Austria. It targets pupils, high school graduates, university students and graduates, school and university drop-outs as well as parents, teachers, people in work and those interested in continuing education. Exhibitors include universities, providers of post-secondary courses, universities of applied science, academies, private providers of educational programs, language schools, interest groups, as well as companies promoting jobs and in-house training programs. The Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung, BMBWF) and the Public Employment Service (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS) jointly organise the fair. In March 2021, it was held digitally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 40.000 people visited the four-day online fair. Previous regular formats have attracted around 75.000 visitors and 350 exhibitors (of which approximately 40 from abroad).
Career choice mentoring (Berufsfindungsbegleitung) in the province of Styria
The Berufsfindungsbegleitung (BFB) project in the province Styria offers best practice in providing vocational orientation for young people. In existence (first as a pilot project) since 1999, it has been extended to the whole province (with exception of the capital Graz) in 2010. It offers young people assistance in their educational and career choices, helps young apprenticeship seekers and their parents in choosing the appropriate profession and continues to support young people at the beginning of their apprenticeship. It collaborates with companies, schools and other partners and has a wide range of offers from individual counselling to larger events and workshops.
The funding for these measures derives from different budgets. In 2018, government spending on labour market integration of young people(15 to 24 years of age) totalled € 921 million (2015: €792 000 000). An additional € 53 000 000 for further training was foressen in 2019, and after its full expansion in 2020 € 57 000 000 a year are to be dedicated to "AusbildungsFit".
A nationwide standard is guaranteed by the central oversight over the offers by the Ministry of social affairs. Due to the implementation on the provincial level, regional circumstances can be considered.
‘QUINORA – International Quality Assurance Programme in Vocational Orientation and Guidance Measures for Job-Seekers on the System Level
The EU project QUINORA (German here) is the response to the internationalisation of vocational orientation and career guidance. QUINORA has the goal to develop benchmarks at a European level and to disseminate best practices. It mainly consists of the development of a quality assurance programme for training measures in vocational orientation and activation. A comparable synthesis report indentifies existing quality standards and programmes in EU countries. Based on this, international quality standards for training measures in vocational orientation and activation are developed focussing particularly on the management level of relevant labour market actors. On the basis of common international quality standards, an e-learning tool is developed offering an opportunity for actors involved in labour market policies and training measures to implement these standards in the system and meta-level step by step. An e-library shall provide additional information and sources in the scope of different aspects of the topic “Quality in vocational orientation”.Target groups are managers of training measures in training institutions, different labour market and training actors (i.e. employment services in EU countries, training institutions) as well as trainers.’