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In focus: Austria

     
 
   
 
 

Contribution by Christian Illedits,
Member of the Burgenland Parliament

 

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Young people are our future capital:All those who are involved in or bear political responsibility for youth employment in Burgenland take this premise to heart and are aware that investment in jobs for young people has to take priority in social and labour-market policy. This is why, for example, a Burgenland Employment Package was concluded in 2001 between the province and a large number of social partner and business representatives. Its objectives were focused on facilitating access to the labour market, combating unemployment and exclusion, and raising employability. This process has to take account, above all, of regional issues and opportunities.

Burgenland lies at the interface between the "old" and "new" EU and has always faced particular challenges because of its history and its location as a former border region. It has been receiving EU regional policy aid since Austria's accession in 1995 to help it catch up with the country's more prosperous provinces and generally become more competitive. As a result, it has been able to gradually progress from an Objective 1 region to a Phasing Out region and in the process thoroughly modernise its economic infrastructure and the province as a whole. One of the priorities of support activities is investment in human capital, especially in the vocational and further training of Burgenland's young people. Specifically, this means training measures for young people that have no vocational training, initial and further training measures for jobless young people, advice and support and training measures for unemployed women and women returning to the labour market, as well as assistance for young people with learning difficulties or social/emotional handicaps.

The promotion of education as a lifelong process, improved compatibility between initial and further vocational training and appropriate training measures are only part of the array of instruments that is being promoted in Burgenland thanks, in particular, to the European Social Fund. Back in 1998, national training measures were put in place for young people seeking apprenticeships to enable those without a suitable place in a firm to receive vocational training. A variety of non-workplace vocational training courses are offered, ranging from courses to "training workshops" (Lehrwerkstätten). These are training centres in which young people can learn a trade after school. Burgenland currently has twelve of them. Burgenland province and the Public Employment Service (AMS) in Burgenland have promoted these measures from the outset – and it has been a success: 42.8% of those taking part have completed the course and a quarter found a job or training opening immediately. In the last decade, these two partners have together invested around EUR 40 million in vocational training for young people. It is a fact: the youth training programme has the biggest budget of all the special programmes.

It is estimated that Burgenland and AMS together invested EUR 1.13 million for 130 young people in the school year 2001/02. For the school year 2010/11 EUR 7.62 million was authorised for 537 youngsters. Today, 18% of the budget is being used for this special programme – around EUR 5.9 million. A recent study from the Austrian Institute for Research on Vocational Training confirms the enduring success of the measures implemented under the training guarantee in Burgenland.

Another flagship initiative is the Burgenland job offensive – Work Experience Plus Programme/Trainee Offensive (Joboffensive Burgenland – Praxis Plus Programm/ Lehrlingsoffensive). This gives teenagers and young adults the chance to spend six months as trainees in the province's administration and its associated subsidiaries in order to gain experience and knowledge so that they can then work as skilled staff in Burgenland enterprises. With these measures Burgenland is trying to actively combat youth unemployment and to create career prospects for young people. The youth training programme will continue to remain a focal point in the years to come. This is one reason why Burgenland – in concert with AMS – has placed this particular emphasis on youth employment and also youth training in the phasing-out process.

 

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The national context:
One main challenge for future labour market policies is to better target young people with a migrant background. About a third of the funds under the Employment Operational Programme and about a fifth of the ESF Phasing Out Programme for Burgenland are invested in measures for young people.

The focus is, inter alia, on young people with placement difficulties. A "Training Guarantee" for future apprenticeships up to the age of 18, first introduced in 2008, gives young people who cannot find a place with a company the opportunity to take part in a training programme as part of a supra-company training programme, which is then counted as a normal and equally-valued component of the dual system. In the 2011/2012 school year,
14 814 young people participated in this measure.

Moreover, young people who have dropped out of school or apprenticeships are reintegrated into the education and training system through "Production Schools". On average, two thirds of participants have a migration background and one fifth have not completed compulsory education.

Furthermore, alongside basic subsidies, quality-related and labour market-related incentives are offered to encourage employers to create additional apprenticeship places and improve the quality of training for around 130 000 apprentices a year.

Last but not least, the Public Employment Service supports the integration of disadvantaged groups and young women who take up apprenticeships in male-dominated professions, and promotes business start-up programmes and employment in social enterprises. In order to combat and prevent youth unemployment, the Austrian government has committed itself in 2011 to further implementing "Training Guarantees" for apprentices.

Moreover, the "Future for Youth" programme provides targeted measures for 19 to 24 year-olds, carried out by the Public Employment Service. In 2012, the commitments were extended by several additional measures, including youth and apprenticeship coaching and youth foundations.

 

 
 

 
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