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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.7 Skills for innovation

Last update: 16 June 2021

Innovation in formal education

Competence-oriented teaching (Bildungsstandards und Kompetenzen)

In Austria, educational standards describe central learning outcomes and competencesin the teaching subjects German, mathematics and English in a systematic selection defined by ordinance. Since 2009, they have formed a central point of reference for those competences that are to be developed sustainably in lessons and that are of central importance for further school and vocational education - also in the sense of lifelong learning - for pupils. Competence acquisition is recognised as an individual, active process in a constructivist sense. Educational standards are used for orientation, promotion and evaluation.

According to §2 of the Ordinance on Educational standards in schools (Verordnung der Bundesministerin für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur über Bildungsstandards im Schulwesen), competences are longer-term cognitive abilities and skills developed by learners that enable them to perform tasks successfully and responsibly in variable situations as well as to demonstrate the associated motivational and social readiness. Competency models are process-oriented model conceptions of the acquisition of subject-related or cross-curricular competencies.

General ordinance governing the principles of project-centred teaching (Grundsatzerlass zum Projektunterricht)

In the curricula of all types of schools, expectations of teaching in the sense of a common educational effect of all subjects can be found in different places (guiding principles, general didactic principles, teaching principles). This corresponds to the networking of the individual disciplines through interdisciplinary, project-oriented and integrative cooperation in order to create meaningful connections that transcend subject boundaries and to enable a lesson organisation that is oriented towards an overall concept.

The 7 prime goals of project-centred education are:

  1. Autonomous learning and acting
  2. Realising one’s own skills and needs and developing them further
  3. Developing the willingness to act and assuming responsibility
  4. Developing a mind that is open for the world and aware of social-historical problems
  5. Recognising and structuring challenges and problematic situations and developing creative approaches to solutions
  6. Developing communicative and cooperative competences and the ability to deal with conflicts
  7. Understanding and shaping organisational contexts

Project teaching is understood as the interaction of as many of the following characteristics as possible:

  • Orientation towards the interests of the participants
  • Self-organisation and self-responsibility
  • Goal-oriented planning
  • Interdisciplinarity
  • Acquisition of social skills
  • External impact
  • As project-centred teaching is a teaching principle, it is part of the regular teacher education. Teachers can also find teaching material online provided by the Federal Institute of Educational Research, Innovation and Development (Bundesinstitut für Bildungsforschung, Innovation und Entwicklung (BIFIE). The website provides teaching tools and learning platforms for teachers.
Young Science (Junge Wissenschaft)

With its Young Science initiatives, the Austrian National Agency for Education and Internationalisation (Agentur für Bildung und Internationalisierung, OeAD) offers opportunities for schools as well as out-of-school initiatives to get in touch and cooperate with research institutions. It provides events and networking opportunities and promotes cooperation between science, school and society. Its initiatives for formal education include:

  • School visits by researchers: As part of the Young Science Ambassadors initiative, researchers from all over Austria visit school classes virtually and in real life to tell pupils about their everyday research life.
  • Seal of quality for research partner schools: Schools that work regularly and closely with scientific institutions can apply every two years for the Young Science seal of quality for research partner schools.
  • Collaboration in research projects: Schools (and interested individuals) who want to collaborate on research projects and support science can participate in research on selected projects and win prizes every year from 1 April to the end of the school year as part of the Citizen Science Awards.
  • Topics for the mandatory school diploma theses: on the Young Science topic platform, young people can find numerous suggestions, including literature tips from researchers.
  • Award for inspiring school diploma theses: All high school graduates who have used the Young Science theme platform are invited to submit their finished work for the Young Science Inspiration Award each year. Inspiring ideas for science are awarded with cash prizes.
National Innovation Strategies

The Strategy for Research, Technology and Innovation (RTI-Strategy) of the Federal Government defines the strategic and operative goals on innovation over the next decade.The foundation of this strategy was prepared by an inter-ministerial working group on the basis of existing studies and involving input from the social partners and crucial stakeholders. Austria has a separate Open Innovation Strategy (Strategie), which was presented to the council of ministers in July 2016 as a vision for 2025.

Objectives for the education system (Strategy for Research, Technology and Innovation)
  • Promotion of the talents of people in all levels of education, awakening their passion for research, and facilitation of the best possible training for business dealings and scientific research. This should guarantee universities, research institutions and firms a sufficient pool of highly qualified researchers.
  • The entire education system must be optimised, from the early childhood phase to models of lifelong learning.
  • These reforms attempt to mitigate social selectivity, to improve permeability between education courses and tracks, to implement thorough quality improvements in school and university instruction, to better integrate immigrants, and to balance out gender discrepancies in research.
  • The portion of drop-outs should be reduced
  • The portion of pupils graduating with a school-leaving certificate for an age cohort should be raised
  • Among the pupils whose first language is not German the share of those who do complete upper secondary school should increase
  • The conditions of study at universities should be fundamentally improved and the proportion of 30- to 34-year-olds who have completed a university degree or have an equivalent educational certificate should be increased
Structural reform of the education system in support of the Strategy
  • Increase the number of full-day schools and expand need-based full-day child care
  • Expand the vocational diploma programme for apprentices and the vocational school leaving examination for adults as a course of study
  • Introduce Austria-wide educational standards and partially standardised final examinations
  • Further develop the school system in terms of better individual support and an increase in permeability, especially in lower secondary school
  • Strengthen human potential in the areas of mathematics, information technology, life sciences, and technology through targeted funding in (pre-)school education and at university institutions
  • Improve educational transitions: expand career orientation and study advising in schools
  • Improve integration programmes: increase hiring of teachers whose first language is not German, and intercultural employees and offer more language teaching
  • Increase mobility: targeted increase of mobility among students and graduates in selected countries, expand exchange programmes for pupils, students and teachers at all levels
Areas and measures of the Open Innovation Strategy

Three action areas ‘Culture & Competences’, ‘Networks & Cooperation’, and ‘Resources and Framework Conditions’ have been defined. Measures relevant for education:

  1. Create open innovation and experimental spaces
  2. Embed open innovation elements at kindergartens and schools as well as in teacher training
  3. Build up research competence for the application of open innovation in science
  4. Develop and implement co-creation and open innovation training programmes
  5. Embed principles of open data and open access in research

Fostering innovation through non-formal and informal learning and youth work

Young Science (Junge Wissenschaft)

With its Young Science initiatives, the Austrian National Agency for Education and Internationalisation (Agentur für Bildung und Internationalisierung, OeAD) offers opportunities for schools as well as out-of-school initiatives to get in touch and cooperate with research institutions. It provides events and networking opportunities and promotes cooperation between science, school and society. Its initiatives include:

  • ‘Pupils at Universities’ offers particularly motivated or gifted pupils the opportunity to attend courses at Austrian universities and take exams while still at school and shortens their later time of study
  • Children's and young people's universities offer a way explore the world of science and research in lectures, workshops, field trips, etc. Under the title ‘Science Holidays - Take a holiday in the world of science (“Mach' Ferien in der Welt der Wissenschaft”), additional holiday care programmes have been funded since 2020.
Try studying (Studieren Probieren)

Within this project, visits of lectures at universities, universities of applied science, and teacher training colleges are organised for pupils. This helps them to get to know university offers and to decide upon their future study courses.

Your projects (EureProjekte)

Young people with a project idea can apply for a grant of up to €500 (€750 in 2019, for projects with the focus on climate protection and sustainability). In addition to this initial funding, they also receive an individual project consultation with employees of the youth information centres in the Federal States. The aim of Eure Projekte is for young people to experience their own effectiveness and to put themselves to the test – and failure is allowed! At the same time, young people’s innovation and commitment are made visible.

New skills conference (New skills Konferenz)

Within the framework of Erasmus+, the new skills conference takes place every year since 2012. In 2017, this conference is conducted in co-operation with the Austrian Chamber of commerce. The conference is aimed at entrepreneurs, project promoters, political decision-makers as well as experts and stakeholders from the fields of education, the labour market and business. The event sees itself as a networking platform, enables a thematic exchange and serves as inspiration for new initiatives and projects. The event has a changing focus on different key qualifications and current new skills topics.

Austria Youth Award (Österreichischer Jugendpreis)

The Department for Families and Youth at the Federal Chancellery  awards outstanding youth projects in three categories. Besides projects of the EU-programme Erasmus+ and projects supported by EureProjekte, initiatives of national youth work are awarded. An important goal of Austrian youth policy is to make these achievements of youth work visible and to strengthen the charitable involvement of young people. See Chapter 10.7 for more information.

Austrian Science Center Network

‘The Austrian Science Center-Network focuses on hands-on engagement with sciences and technology. More than 160 partners nationwide form an alliance of organizations and individuals with an active interest in science centre activities. The Association ScienceCenter-Network serves as the hub for the network, enabling exchange and training as well as performing projects and research. Within ScienceCenter-Network, a wide range of projects for various target groups has been initiated.’ Its aim is to encourage all people, particularly young people, to discover science and technology for themselves. Its aims are to promote a culture of innovation, to contribute to educational equity and to stimulate dialogue between science and society. Through its work, the network aims to inspire and empower individuals as visitors and participants in science centre activities, training and networking events. It also accompanies museums and extracurricular educational institutions in developing, implementing and exchanging high-quality formats of hands-on education.

aufZAQ – Certified quality of non-formal education in youth work

aufZAQ is a certification of training courses for people active in youth work, provided by the Department for Families and Youth at the Federal Chancellery, the Youth Departments of the Federal States of Austria and the Youth Work Department of the Autonomous Province of Bozen/Bolzano – South Tyrol. aufZAQ has been certifying the quality of training since 2003 and has thus been contributing actively to the recognition of non-formal education in the field of youth work. So far, 34 different training courses have been certified, some of the offered courses include innovation fostering.

Information on funding

As several public bodies and various funding lines are involved in the funding of measures, initiatives and/or projects dedicated to fostering creativity and innovation of young people a concrete budget cannot be specified.