3.4 Career guidance and counselling
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Austria offers a wide range of labour market measures for young people in line with the EU Youth Guarantee. These include career guidance and counselling services to support young people in their transition from education to working life and to reduce the number of early school leavers. Special programmes are available for disadvantaged young people, NEETs (not in education, employment or training), young refugees and those with disabilities or special educational needs.
The country has two integrated youth guidance systems: one within schools and the other through the Public Employment Service (AMS) and counselling centres. The social partners, including the career centres of the Chambers of Commerce ( (Wirtschaftskammer Österreich) and the Chambers of Labour (Arbeiterkammer), also contribute to youth counselling at regional and national level.
Career Guidance and Counseling within formal education
In the education sector, career support includes improving career management skills, offering guidance, and providing practical career insights. These initiatives are brought together under the framework of ‘IBBOB’, which stands for Information, Counselling, and Orientation for Education and Career (Information, Beratung und Orientierung für Beruf und Bildung).
The IBOBB concept occupies a central position in the Austrian educations system. At both lower and upper secondary level, a designated career guidance coordinator is responsible for drawing up tailor-made plans that include information, counselling and guidance for students. These plans integrate different forms of support. The IBOBB approach in schools is based on three main pillars:
- Vocational Orientation (Berufsorientierung, BO) is led by specialised BO teachers for students aged 12 to 14. They provide targeted career guidance and help students understand potential career paths.
- Student counsellors play a crucial role in providing personalised guidance in decision support. This helps students to effectively navigate their academic and career choices.
- Students are given the opportunity to engage in practical experiences such as work experience days and visits to education and career fairs. These efforts provide students with practical insights into different careers.
In addition, the School Psychology and Educational Guidance Service (Schulpsychologische Bildungsberatung) complements these efforts. They provide specialist support as required, ensuring that students receive comprehensive and tailored support to guide them in their educational and career aspirations.
Furthermore, cooperation between schools and external bodies such as public employment services and social partners is crucial.
The '18plus Career and Study Checker'(18plus – Berufs- und Studienchecker) supports students in their final year of secondary school in making educational and career choices according to their preferences and strengths, with an emphasis on individual aptitudes, interests and abilities.
Career guidance is not only available in schools, but also in higher education institutions such as universities. One example of this is the Uniport Careers Service at the University of Vienna(Uniport Karriereberatung)
However, there are several other institutions in Austria that provide career guidance independently of school enrolment. These institutions offer a range of services to support young people in their career development, such as counselling, job search assistance and training programmes. The most important are described below.
Career Guidance and Counseling Services outside the school sector
Public Employment Service - Career advice and guidance (AMS – Berufe, Aus- und Weiterbildung)
The Public Employment Service (AMS) in Austria serves as the main hub for nationwide career guidance. Through its 73 Career Information Centres (BerufsInfoZentren, BIZ) across the country and the 3D BIZ virtual tour online, the AMS offers a range of services. These services include personalized and group counselling, workshops, and training sessions. The aim is to help individuals identify their strengths, explore potential career paths, and stay informed about trends in the job market.
To cater to the needs of young people, the AMS has a dedicated youth website called 'My job - my future' (Mein Beruf - meine Zukunft), which offers information about schooling, apprenticeships, training programs, job searches, and the application process.
For young individuals transitioning from school and seeking training or apprenticeship opportunities, the AMS offers initial counselling. This includes assisting them in obtaining qualifications and registering as apprenticeship seekers to facilitate placements. In Vienna, there's a specialized youth office to cater to these needs.
In addition, the AMS supports schools by providing online information databases, including the Online Career Compass (AMS Karrierekompass), the Education Compass (AMS Ausbildungskompass), the Wages and Salaries Compass (AMS Gehaltskompass), an online encyclopaedia containing over 1800 professions (AMS Berufslexikon), and an online information system providing information on skills required for different professions (AMS Berufsinformationssystem). It offers lectures, training, events and job fairs to promote apprenticeship training. The AMS Online Guide Internet Services (AMS Online-Ratgeber) provides a collection of online services and guides.
Counselling by social partners
Social partner organizations also play a crucial role in career guidance. They run counselling centres, with the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber (WKO) operating the online portal bic.at (in German), which offers information on occupations, career counselling and profiling. The WKO and the Austrian Institute for Economic Promotion (WIFI) award the “Vocational Orientation plus” seal of approval (Gütesiegel Berufsorientierung plus) to schools that provide excellent careers guidance. The Chamber of Labour (AK) offers career information and career interest test (Berufsorientierung). The AK also offers teaching materials and workshops. In addition, industry associations and training companies offer comprehensive information on training programmes.
Network job-related assistance (NEBA) – ‘Youth Coaching’ (Jugendcoaching) and ‘Fit for Training’ (AusbildungsFit)
The network NEBA (Netzwerk berufliche Assistenz) is run by the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection and offers free counselling and coaching to young people.
- ‘Youth Coaching’ supports young people in their transition from school to work and aims to prevent early school leaving and improve employment opportunities. It provides guidance and support to young people who have difficulties in continuing or choosing their educational path (NEETs and young regufees) and targets both pupils in their last year of compulsory education and early school leavers up to the age of 19 (young people with disabilities up to the age of 25). ‘Youth Coaching’ also works with prisons to help young offenders re-enter the education system.
- In addition to ‘Youth Coaching’, NEBA offers other counselling and guidance services to young people. ‘Fit for Training’, formerly known as Production Schools (Produktionsschulen), provides practical training for young people, generally aged between 15 and 21 and those with special educational needs up to the age of 24. Some 84 providers offer the one-year programme, which aims to provide basic qualifications, skills and vocational guidance. The programme combines workshops, counselling, and teaching through creativity and is supported by social workers. One example of ‘Fit for Training’ is ‘WUK work.space’ (in German) in Vienna.
The 'Apprenticeship instead of Emptiness’ (Leere statt Lehre) initiative of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Economics supports apprentices during their vocational training. Through coaching, apprentices and/or trainers receive individual advice and support in overcoming challenges related to their training. The goal is to provide self-help assistance and find solutions and opportunities towards completing their vocational training. Coaching is based on mutual trust and respect, with the coach helping to develop individual solutions and accompanying apprentices and trainers. Telephone and online coaching are available for situations where distance is an issue, time is limited or immediate support is needed.
The education and career fair BeSt3 – Job, Training, and Education Fair
BeSt³ is Austria's largest free career, study and further education fair for students, graduates, parents, teachers and anyone interested in further education. Exhibitors include universities, post-secondary course providers, language schools and companies offering jobs and training programmes. The fair is jointly organised by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the Public Employment Service. Every year, thousands of visitors take advantage of the opportunity to get first-hand information and advice from experts.
Regional guidance and counselling
Austria’s federal provinces support a wide range of guidance services. For example, the project (Berufsfindungsbegleitung, BFB), supported by the province of Styria (Land Steiermark), is the leading career guidance project for young people in the region. It supports young people in their choice of education and occupation, helps apprenticeship seekers and their parents to choose a suitable occupation and supports young people at the beginning of their apprenticeship. The BFB works with companies, schools and partner, offering individual advice, events and workshops.
Career services in Austria are financially supported by both the government and the European Social Fund. At national level, several ministries, including the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research, the Ministry of Labour and Economy, and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection, provide funding for career guidance and counselling services to support young people. These ministries work with regional governments and partners to ensure the provision of comprehensive career guidance services.
While there is no specific budget allocated solely for career services, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Economy allocated approximately €896 million for youth labour market policy in 2021 (Budget Arbeitsmarktpolitik Jugendliche 2021). This budget included subsidies and benefits provided by the Public Employment Service (AMS) as well as support for apprenticeships in enterprises. In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs allocated around 40 million euro for various services. The main focus of this funding is to provide counselling, support and training programmes to help young people navigate the complex landscape of work and education.
In Austria, quality assurance in career guidance for young people is not regulated by a universal system. Instead, individual service and funding bodies establish specific quality assurance systems with independent evaluation and supervision. Institutions providing career guidance may have both internal quality management and external quality assurance.
With regard to career and educational guidance in the education system, Austria has implemented various measures to ensure quality assurance. A nationwide Quality Management System for Schools (QMS) was introduced in the 2021/2022 school year to improve school processes and outcomes. The Quality Framework for Schools (QF) forms the foundation of QMS. The Austrian University Law (Universitätsgesetz 2002, §14) and the Law on Higher Education (Hochschulgesetz 2005, §33) requires higher education institutions (HEI) to have their own quality management systems for quality and performance assurance.
In addition, specific quality assurance systems for careers guidance for young people have been established by individual service and funding bodies.The Austrian Institute for Vocational Education and Training (öibf), for example, oversees the IBOBB process for external quality assurance in provider-neutral careers guidance, which assesses standards in independence, client-orientation, structural conditions, gender equality and quality development. The aim is to ensure reliable, professional and coherent guidance. The AMS Career Guidance Centres are IBOBB-certified (IBOBB-zertifiziert) and have undergone external quality assurance processes for impartial education and career guidance.