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wbv   Bundesverband der Lehrerinnen und Lehrer an Wirtschaftsschulen e.V.




To match or mismatch? The Austrian VET system on struggle with diverse and changing demands

As a background the main structural traits of the system and the main ongoing changes are briefly described in an introductory section .

- The Austrian VET system includes both a strong full-time school sector and a strong apprenticeship system, bringing about a very high share of VET qualifications at the upper secondary level. The VET qualifications are specialised and layered into three qualification levels. Higher education is comparatively weak, and has been differentiated into two layers – university and polytechnics – during the last decade.

- The educational choices of young people show a tendency towards upgrading, with the upper level VET colleges which provide a double-qualification for professional work and access to higher education as the most expanding part of the system. The apprenticeship system seems to have been left behind to some degree by those changes. An increasing proportion of the shrinking population of young people will graduate from higher education.

- In the longer term the interaction of the trends towards upgrading with the demographic decline of younger age cohorts might lead to a substantial change in the supply structure of VET. This development makes questions about the match of supply and demand increasingly important.

In the main body of the paper empirical results about the following questions, based on quantitative and qualitative methodology are presented:

- How does the quantitative relationship between supply and demand look like in Austria? Comparative and country specific evidence about that relationship is summarised in a cross-sectional perspective by education and training levels, and by broad occupational categories.

- What is known about the development of the supply and demand sides? Projection results about the development of the different parts of the system are summarised, and discussed on the background of the debates about the knowledge based economy and society.

- What does research tell us about the Austrian situation of matching supply and demand in VET? Available measures of mismatch and results of surveys among graduates and school leavers are presented and discussed with respect to their uses for policy making.

- How does the system deal with the problems of definition, selection, and anticipation of competences? The system works so far mainly on informal mechanisms to detect changing demands, with teachers and trainers employed outside providing a bridge to working life.

The concluding section discusses some main matters of choice for future development.