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					                                             Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                             Learning: Austria




    COUNTRY REPORT ON THE ACTION PLAN ON ADULT
                LEARNING: AUSTRIA


                                    (March 2011)

This report - as well as the reports from 30 other countries that were represented in the
working group on the Adult Learning Action Plan - has been carried out, on behalf of
the European Commission, by GHK in cooperation with Research voor Beleid.

This product has been more specifically drawn up on the basis of country-experts'
analysis of existing national literature and the Confintea IV-report. In finalising the
report, comments and feedback from the National Authority have been taken into
account as much as possible; however, the report does not necessarily reflect an
official position of the Member State.




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                                                                        Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                                                        Learning: Austria




CONTENTS

1      CONTEXT ............................................................................................................................. 3
    1.1   Socio-economic context ............................................................................................... 3
    1.2         Historical-ideological context ....................................................................................... 3
2      POLITICAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK ........................................................................... 6
    2.1    Policies and strategies ................................................................................................. 6
    2.2         Legal Framework ......................................................................................................... 8
3      STRUCTURAL AND FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK .............................................................. 9
    3.1    Structural framework .................................................................................................... 9
4      PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR PARTICIPATION IN ADULT LEARNING .... 11
5      CLUSTERS OF MEASURES ............................................................................................. 13
6      THE FIVE PRIORITIES OF THE ACTION PLAN ON ADULT LEARNING ...................... 15
    6.1    Analyse effects of reforms in other educational sectors on adult learning ................ 15
    6.2         Improve the quality of provision and staffing ............................................................. 16
    6.3         Increase the possibilities to achieve a qualification at least one level higher ............ 17
    6.4         Speed up the process of assessing and recognising non-formal and informal learning
                for disadvantaged groups .......................................................................................... 18
    6.5         Improve the monitoring of the adult learning sector................................................... 18




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                                             Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                             Learning: Austria




COUNTRY REPORT ON THE ACTION PLAN ON ADULT LEARNING:
AUSTRIA

1     CONTEXT
1.1   Socio-economic context
      According to demographic forecasts, Austria`s population (currently around 8.3
      million) will experience growth and structural change in composition in the coming
      decade. In particular, the age distribution will evolve toward a generally older
      population.
      Currently, 22 per cent of the population are aged 60 or older, and their proportion will
      increase to 26 per cent in 2020 and 30 per cent in 2030. The population growth which
      will mostly be due to immigration will not compensate for the relative ageing of the
      population, which is expected to affect the labour market in the near future. It is
      estimated that in a few years the number of people leaving the job market will exceed
      the number of people entering it; at the same time, the number of people aged
      between 45 and 64 will exceed the number of people aged between 25 and 44. Given
      these demographic trends, the economy will have to meet the challenges of keeping
      older people employed and bringing women into jobs they have not traditionally
      chosen.
      The economic crisis of the last two years has affected Austria rather moderately, with
      the exception of the manufacturing sector. Within this sector, the automotive supply
      industry, which has a strong base in certain regions of Austria, was especially hard-
      hit. The sector must initiate a much-needed structural transformation (e.g. to “green
      jobs”) without which a lot of jobs will be lost in the long run. Implementing these
      initiatives by means of further education, however, will be difficult because the
      Austrian economy is dominated by small and medium-sized enterprises, and only a
      few of these run continuing education programmes. Signs of international economic
      recovery in 2010 have eased the situation slightly.
      The unemployment rate is comparatively low in the international context, yet rose
      significantly between 2008 and 2009, and reached an annual average of 4.8 per cent
      in 2010. A more dramatic rise in unemployment rates has been contained by
      companies’ use of short-time work. As unemployment mostly affects young people,
      immigrants and unskilled workers, the Federal Employment Agency
      (Arbeitsmarktservice, AMS) has increased its activity in vocational training.
1.2   Historical-ideological context
      Adult education for the general population evolved from the emancipatory liberal and
      working class movements in the second half of the 19th century and was mainly an
      urban phenomenon. In Austria, popular adult education benefited from the university
      expansion of the 1890s and from the involvement of intellectuals and scientists until,
      in the 1930s, the rise of ‘Austrofascism’ and the subsequent occupation of Austria by
      Nazi Germany interrupted its development.
      After the end of World War II, it was difficult to resume the adult education
      developments of the interwar period. In particular, the close connection to the
      academic field that once characterised adult education in Austria – especially in



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                                        Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                        Learning: Austria


Vienna - could not be re-established until recently. During this period, the long-
established adult education institutions, for instance the adult education centres
(Volkshochschulen), Catholic adult learning institutions and the representative
institutions of the employees and employers played a key role in the reconstruction of
adult education in Austria.
Following this phase, a more systematic development of the system of adult
education began. In 1972, the Austrian Conference of Adult Education Institutions
(KEBÖ) was established as a forum to improve coordination among the main adult
education institutions and to represent the interests of its members before the
government and the Länder (nine states that make up the federal republic of Austria).
KEBÖ is not a governmental organization or institution, but rather a working group. In
the 1980s, KEBÖ started a project to systematically collect statistical data on the work
and structure of adult education institutions (KEBÖ-statistics, which later were also
integrated into Knowledgebase Erwachsenenbildung). Due to difficulties arising from
the fragmented and diverse nature of the field the Federal Ministry for Education, Arts
and Culture made a new effort to establish a statistical basis for the public funding of
adult education development in 2008.
The Federal Act on the Promotion of Adult Education and Public Libraries of 1973
established a legal basis for the federal funding of adult learning institutions in
Austria. It regulates financial support as a discretionary provision, yet not regulating
the amount of funding; as a consequence, there has been no entitlement for the
funding of adult education in Austria till 2008. In March 2009, the
Leistungsvereinbarungen (contract management) were concluded between the
Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture and the associations within the
Conference of Adult Education in Austria (KEBÖ). These agreements define the
Ministry`s obligation to cover structural funding of these institutions (increasing the
existing budget at the same time), for a period of three years. Funding of adult
education can also be found in the field of the political education institutions that are
directly connected to political parties; their funding was established in the 1970s for
the political education of the public and of party members.
Another institution that is directly connected to the 1973 act is the Federal Institute for
Adult Education (BIFEB) which is an institution for the training of adult educators of
the BMUKK and serves as a competence centre for continuing education and
training. From the beginning, adult education in Austria developed from the bottom
up, and has never gained a legal and institutional status comparable to that of other
fields in the Austrian educational system. The institutional landscape of adult learning
cannot be understood as an outcome of comprehensive state action but as “a social
movement aiming to enforce particular interests” (OECD 2003, p. 11).
Political system and education
Austria is a federal republic, composed of nine constituent federal states (Länder):
Burgenland, Carinthia, Lower Austria, Salzburg, Styria, Tyrol, Upper Austria, Vienna
(also the nation’s capital) and Vorarlberg. Federal legislation is enacted by the two
chambers of Parliament, the ''Nationalrat'' and the ''Bundesrat''. The latter chamber
represents the interests of the Länder. The state diets exercise the legislative power
of the Länder.
The 183 deputies in the Nationalrat are elected by the populace every five years. The
members of the Bundesrat (currently numbering 62) are elected by the population of
the federal state concerned.
After the last national parliamentary election on 28 September 2008, the distribution
of seats is as follows: 57 Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), 51 Austrian



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                                         Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                         Learning: Austria


People´s Party (ÖVP), 34 Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ), 21 Alliance Future Austria
(BZÖ), and 20 Green Party (Die Grünen).
Legislative competencies exist both at the federal and at the Länder levels, which are
managed by the ministries. The Länders' sphere of competence comprises all issues
that are not expressively within the sphere of the federation. The Länder governments
are elected by the respective Länder assembly.
In Austria, there exists a comprehensive system of professional and social self-
administration in the form of the chambers defined by economic or professional
criteria with statutory membership in connection with voluntary representations of
interest. This system is not prevalent internationally.
In the continuum of learning activities (formal, non-formal and informal learning),
responsibilities and competencies are split between a wide range of adult education
institutions in Austria. In addition, responsibilities and competencies for the regulation,
provision, financing and support of learning activities vary widely.
These developments notwithstanding, to date, no consensus on central issues of
educational policy for adult education has been established in Austria. This lack of
consensus may be a reason why no comprehensive adult education policy has
emerged from the Austrian political system; the developments in adult education
policy during the last decade were initiated to a large extent in the context of the
European Union.
Traditionally the Austrian education system is characterised by a focus on
intermediate qualifications and a university system with a predominance of long
degree courses. In comparison with many other countries, educational paths at the
upper secondary level (ISCED levels 3 and 4) have retained relatively high current
graduate figures. The tertiary sector was diversified relatively late, which to date
reflects in relatively low tertiary rates and a traditional lack of short university courses.
Due to the strong emphasis on vocational education and training (VET) (ISCED levels
3 and 4), it should be noted that international educational comparisons underestimate
the Austrian system to some extent. The organisation of education in Austria
"includes in ISCED 4 qualifications which in other countries are classified under 5B".
Still, it is worth noting that, in the last two decades, a variety of reforms of the
educational system were undertaken that affect the lifelong learning strategies,
including:
-   The introduction of the Fachhochschule as a new element in tertiary
    education;
-   The introduction of the Berufsreifeprüfung as an equivalent to the
    Reifeprüfung of upper secondary schools; (Holders of the Berufsreifeprüfung
    certificate have access to all fields of study at universities).
-   A university entrance examination (Studienberechtigungsprüfung) is another
    way of attending university without Reifeprüfung. This certificate is limited to
    special fields of study.)
-   The upgrading of the Pädagogische                   Akademien      to   Pädagogische
    Hochschulen (tertiary level); and,
-   The establishment of the University for Continuing Education (Danube
    University, Krems).




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                                            Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                            Learning: Austria



2     POLITICAL AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK
2.1   Policies and strategies
      Lifelong learning strategy
      Since Austria provided its opinion on the Commission’s Memorandum on Lifelong
      Learning, working groups have been organised on several occasions and conceptual
      approaches for a national lifelong learning strategy have been developed. The
      discussion intensified in 2005 when the Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and
      Culture set up an expert commission to develop guidelines for a future strategy. This
      document was consulted on a broad basis, with all major stakeholders in the
      educational system and the representatives of employees and the industry offering
      their point of view, and the paper was discussed at round tables. A consolidated
      version, known as the Krems paper, was published in 2007 and constituted the basis
      for the major document for lifelong learning strategy in Austria (BMUKK 2008).
      The paper makes suggestions for the financial provisioning of the strategy, calls for
      the implementation of a permanent Advisory Board for Lifelong Learning as a
      coordinating and guiding body, and sets five guidelines of the lifelong learning
      strategy. These five abstract guidelines (and related “suggestions”) are as follows
      (see Universität Krems 2007, p. 10ff):
      -   Life-stage orientation (learning throughout the entire life-span):
              o   entering education should be possible at any time:
              o   modularisation of education provision
              o   education processes take time (work-life-education balance)
      -   Putting learners at the centre:
              o   connection of learning sites and development of new learning
                  environments
              o   development of new kinds of learning and teaching
              o   better support and increased use of e-learning and remote learning
              o   development of a new self-concept and new duties for learners
      -   Lifelong guidance:
              o   extension of existing independent and provider comprehensive
                  contact points for vocational guidance, education, and career
                  counselling
              o   professionalisation of vocational guidance, education, and career
                  counselling
              o   broaden the access to counselling
      -   Competence orientation:
              o   development of competence portfolio instruments for the
                  certification, especially of informally acquired knowledge and
                  competencies
              o   development of the provision for dual education at different levels
      -   Promoting participation in lifelong learning:
              o   strengthen the motivation for, and the joy of, learning



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                                        Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                        Learning: Austria


        o   provision of basic services in general adult education and in
            vocational training all over the country
        o   development and strengthening of regional learning networks
            (Bildungsverbünde)
        o   qualification of unemployed people through integration               and
            cooperation with both public and private education providers.
The strategic target of these guidelines covers all systems and levels of general and
vocational training. The guidelines take into account various social and cultural
dimensions that shape education throughout the individual’s lifespan. An inter-
ministerial working group is preparing a national-LLL strategy for the period up to
2020. In it 10 concrete lines of action and appropriate goals and measures are
formulated, which include all areas of learning. The national LLL strategy should be
adopted by the Council of Ministers in 2011.
Other strategies and policy initiatives that mention adult learning:
-   Austria participates in the European Qualifications Framework and develops
    a National Qualifications Framework (NQR) that covers all sectors of the
    educational system. The responsible bodies are the Federal Ministry for
    Education, Arts and Culture and the Federal Ministry of Science and
    Research. The discussion was initiated in 2007 by the establishment of a
    steering body with the aim of developing a consultation paper. This paper
    was discussed by a broad range of stakeholders in 2008.
-   For the development of the rural areas in Austria, the Federal Ministry of
    Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management established the
    programme Learning Regions (Lernende Regionen), which is connected with
    the Leader programme. Regions that participate in the Leader programme
    can implement programmes concerning continuing education. 39 regions
    participate in this programme or are in the process of developing ideas for
    participation.
-   In 2011 an overall framework of quality for adult learning institutions in
    Austria (Ö-Cert) will start, developed together with and agreed between
    federal government and the nine Länder, and funded by the BMUKK and the
    Länder. Quality-management systems and Quality-assurance-procedures
    will then be comparable, and the transparency for the individual learner will
    increase.
-   The Federal Ministry of Education, the Arts and Culture together with the
    Länder have planned to launch a major initiative in the field of adult
    education from September 2011, which is supported by the federal
    government and the Länder by 50 per cent. It will create learning
    opportunities for free in the area of basic education and second chance
    programmes up to secondary education degrees. In addition, federal and
    regional governments have agreed on common quality standards for the
    implementation of the measures, which are reviewed by an accreditation
    body. The umbrella organisations of the most important adult education
    institutions and the social partners were involved in the planning of this
    initiative from the very beginning.
-   Educational leave (Bildungskarenz) was introduced under the purview of the
    Federal Employment Agency in 2008. It can last between two months and
    one year, and participants are compensated as in the case of
    unemployment. The annual average number of people participating in this



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                                             Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                             Learning: Austria


          programme tripled between 2008 (1551) and 2009 (4894). Educational
          activities must be of at least twenty hours a week.
      -   Efforts to establish continuing education at university level led to the
          founding of the University for Continuing Education (Danube University
          Krems) in 1994. The University has specialised in postgraduate academic
          studies and offers courses in the fields of economics and business
          management, administration and international affairs, education and cultural
          sciences, and building and ecology. Other universities also aim to become
          more active in the field of continuing education.
      The following further general objectives of education policy also apply:
      -   Increasing offers for second-chance, free-of-charge acquisition of formal
          education certificates, and implementation of the “apprenticeship +
          Reifeprüfung” model;
      -   Intensifying measures for immigrants and the unskilled/low-skilled , as well
          as improving basic educational provision; and
      -   Improving labour market policy measures for women, for young adults and
          for older persons so as to increase their levels of employment.
2.2   Legal Framework
      Main legal documents
      The main legal document that regulates the adult learning sector (including the
      funding thereof) on the federal level is the Federal Act on the Promotion of Adult
      Education and Public Libraries of 1973. The passing of this legislation was followed
      by a variety of adult education acts at Länder level, which are responsible for adult
      education policies in the first instance.
      Adult education provision within the secondary and tertiary education sector is
      regulated by the School Organisation Act, and the School Education Act for Working
      Adults; these acts regulate academic secondary schools for working adults
      (Abendgymnasium) and special forms of medium-level technical and vocational
      schools (Fachschulen), as well as secondary technical and vocational colleges (e.g.,
      Höhere Technische Lehranstalten).
      The legal framework for the field of active labour market policy is provided by the
      Labour Market Service Act, the Labour Market Promotion Act, and the Unemployment
      Insurance Act, which regulate the Federal Employment Agency and provisions such
      as educational leave.
      Others
      There are still other federal acts bearing on adult education (see OECD 2003: p. 23):
      -   In 1997, a federal act introduced the Berufsreifeprüfung, which is equivalent
          to the Reifeprüfung certificate that grants access to all fields of tertiary
          education (Bundesgesetz über die Berufsreifeprüfung).
      -   In 1999, the University Graduation Study Grant for Employed People was
          regulated by federal law.
      -   In 2000, tax deductions for educational expenses, whether incurred by a
          corporation or by a natural person, were regulated by a federal act.
      -   The new Universities Act of 2002, which endows Austrian universities with
          autonomy and provides a new framework for university policy, supports
          universities’ efforts to become active in the adult education market, which is



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                                              Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                              Learning: Austria


          also the case for the University Colleges for Teacher Training
          (Pädagogische Hochschulen), due to the respective Act from 2007.


3     STRUCTURAL AND FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK
3.1   Structural framework
      The main stakeholders are:
      Federal Government
      The state’s responsibilities for adult education are distributed among different
      ministries as follows: general and vocational adult education and schools for adults
      are at the responsibility of the Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture
      (BMUKK), which also managed the consultation process on the lifelong learning
      strategy for Austria. The Federal Institute for Adult Education (BIFEB) is the Federal
      Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture’s (BMUKK) competence centre for adult
      education. It also realises projects with the support of ESF and Grundtvig funding and
      serves as a competence centre for continuing education and training.
      Adult education within universities and universities of applied sciences
      (Fachhochschulen) falls within the purview of the Federal Ministry for Science and
      Research (BMWF); labour force training run by the Federal Employment Agency falls
      within the purview of the Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, and Consumer
      Protection (BMASK), companies´ in-service training, continuing education, and
      vocational training falls under the responsibility of the Federal Ministry of Economy,
      Family and Youth (BMWFJ). Within its responsibility for rural development policy, the
      Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment, and Water Management
      (Lebensministerium) is responsible for the LEADER programme “learning regions”,
      and is also the main source of funding for the Austrian Institute for Rural Education
      and Training (Ländliches Fortbildungsinstitut, LFI Austria).
      Responsibilities of the Länder
      Beyond the various aforementioned responsibilities for special areas of adult learning
      and adult education policy, the general responsibility for the promotion and public
      funding of adult learning lies with the authorities of the various Länder and
      municipalities. The provincial authorities’ obligations include the provision of funds for
      adult education institutions or their umbrella organisations, provision of financial
      means for individuals participating in adult learning, and of service, counselling, and
      promotion activities for learners and institutions.
      Education Providers
      The Conference of Adult Education Institutions (KEBÖ) is a forum whose role is to
      improve coordination among the main adult education institutions and to represent
      the interests of its members. Moreover KEBÖ strives to raise awareness of the
      increasing importance of adult education. Although KEBÖ was not instituted by law,
      its authority in the realm of adult education is recognised by administrative authorities,
      and its operational expenses are kept to a minimum and are partly funded by the
      BMUKK. The executive committee consists of delegates from all member
      organisations and deals with day-to-day matters, and there is a new chairperson
      every two years. For many years, KEBÖ has organized an annual conference on a
      specific topic of interest to adult education experts.
      KEBÖ consists of the ten nationwide umbrella organisations of the Austrian non-profit
      adult education institutions:



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                                        Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                        Learning: Austria


-   Working Group of Austrian Educational Centers (Arbeitsgemeinschaft
    Bildungshäuser Österreich - ARGE BHÖ, www.arge-bildungshaeuser.at)
-   Austrian Vocational Training Institute (Berufsförderungsinstitut Österreich –
    BFI, www.bfi.at)
-   Umbrella Organisation of Public Libraries in Austria (Büchereiverband
    Österreichs – BVÖ, www.bvoe.at)
-   Forum of Catholic Adult Education in Austria (Forum Katholischer
    Erwachsenenbildung in Österreich – FORUM, www.weiterwissen.at)
-   Austrian Institute for Rural Education               and    Training     (Ländliches
    Fortbildungsinstitut – LFI Austria, www.lfi.at)
-   Network of Austrian Adult Education Institutes (Ring Österreichischer
    Bildungswerke – RÖBW, http://ring.bildungswerke.at)
-   Austrian Association for Education and Economics                   (Österreichische
    Volkswirtschaftliche Gesellschaft – VG-Ö, www.vwg.at)
-   Association of Adult Education for Austrian Trade Unions (Verband
    Österreichischer Gewerkschaftlicher Bildung – VÖGB, www.voegb.at)
-   Association of Austrian Adult Education Centers (Verband Österreichischer
    Volkshochschulen – VÖV, www.vhs.or.at)
-   Institute for Economic Promotion of the Austrian Economic Chamber
    (Wirtschaftsförderungsinstitut der Wirtschaftskammer Österreichs – WIFI,
    www.wifi.at)
Most of the umbrella organisations represented by KEBÖ are themselves
representing organisations on the level of the Länder, which are the main providers of
programmes and courses if they are not organised at regional or municipal level. The
organisations of some Länder cooperate in an adult education policy network.
There are currently about 1,755 providers for adult education and training in Austria
including the KEBÖ-institutions, NGOs and NPOs.
Vocational Training for Unemployed
The Federal Employment Agency (AMS) is the key player in the implementation of
labour market policies. It is financed by employers and employees. The Federal
Employment Agency itself is not a provider of vocational training; it contracts training
measures out to providers, such as the Austrian Vocational Training Institute
(Berufsförderungsinstitut – bfi),the Institute for Economic Promotion of the Austrian
Economic Chamber (Wirtschaftsförderungsinstitut der Wirtschaftskammer Österreichs
– WIFI) or profit-oriented providers.
Other Stakeholders
The establishment of the University for Continuing Education in Krems marks the
upswing of activity in scientific research on adult education. Other institutions that are
active in the field of research on adult education are, for example, the Austrian
Institute for Research on Vocational Training (Österreichisches Institut für
Berufsbildungsforschung – ÖIBF, founded in 1970, http://www.oeibf.at), the Austrian
Institute for Adult Education (OIEB, re-established in 1999, http://www.oieb.at), the
Institute for Advanced Studies (Institut für Höhere Studien, www.ihs.ac.at), the
Institute for Research on Qualifications and Training of the Austrian Economy (Institut
für Bildungsforschung der Wirtschaft – ibw, www.ibw.at) and institutes at the
Universities of Graz and Klagenfurt. In 2006, institutes and individuals launched the




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                                              Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                              Learning: Austria


      Austrian Network for Research and Development in Adult Education and Continuing
      Training as a platform for promoting research in adult education.
3.2   Financial Framework
      Financial support for adult education in Austria is provided by different public sources,
      private stakeholders, and individuals. Quantifying the precise amount of money spent
      on adult education is difficult. The OECD (2003) posits that adult education provisions
      can be categorized according to the primary source of financing.
      Providers in receipt of primarily private funding for adult education:
      -   Members of the Conference of Adult Education (KEBÖ);preparatory courses
          for the exceptional admission to the apprenticeship-leave exam;
      -   Berufsreifeprüfung and Studienberechtigungsprüfung;
      -   Part-time courses       at   the   Fachhochschulen       (Universities   of   Applied
          Sciences); and,
      -   For-profit training venues.
      Providers in receipt of primarily public funding for adult education:
      -   BIFEB;
      -   Schools and colleges for adults and post-secondary qualifications;
      -   University programmes.
      In 2006, a total of €2.4 billion was spent on adult and continuing education in Austria.
      This amount does not include indirect costs such as lost wages and opportunity costs,
      including which would increase the total amount to approximately €3.4 billion (see
      Lassnig et al., 2008; pp. 6ff).
      Of the total expenditure on adult education, 38 per cent is borne by the Federal
      Employment Agency (AMS) and the European Social Fund, 30 per cent by
      companies, 20 per cent by individuals, and 12 per cent by public bodies.


4     PROBLEMS AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR PARTICIPATION IN
      ADULT LEARNING
      Barriers/opportunities for participation of adults in lifelong learning
      The EU target benchmark for participation in lifelong learning (12.5 per cent by the
      year 2010) was reached in 2005; subsequently participation rose to 13.8 per cent by
      2009.
      It is worth noting that the participation rates of women are currently higher than those
      of men; indeed, the attainment of the EU benchmark ahead of schedule was made
      possible by the rapid rise in women’s rate of participation, which went from 6.3 per
      cent in 1995 to 14.7 per cent in 2009 and compensated for the more modest rise in
      the men’s rate of participation, which went from 9.2 per cent to 12,8 per cent (and
      which, therefore, remains below the benchmark) during the same period.
      Deeper empirical insights into the participation in lifelong learning were provided by
      the ad hoc module on lifelong learning of Statistik Austria in 2003, which yielded
      participation rates in non-formal adult education activities in the year leading up to the
      study for people aged 15 or older. According to this survey, 23 per cent of men and
      20.5 per cent of women were participating in lifelong learning. Rates were significantly




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                                        Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                        Learning: Austria


higher for employed individuals (30.9 per cent), and amongst them, those of women
were higher than those of men.
In general, surveys do not directly answer questions that distinguish between
institutional, situational, and dispositional barriers to participation in adult education,
but these may be inferred from correlations between participation rates in different
fields of adult education and variables like gender, educational background, age, and
status of employment.
In the field of general adult education, the participation rates of women are much
higher than those of men. Figures provided by institutions that are primarily active in
the field of general adult education show that women participate to a much higher
degree in general adult education; for example, at adult education centres
(Volkshochschulen), women account for 77 per cent of students. On the other hand,
figures provided by institutions that are primarily active in vocational training show
mostly balanced figures for men and women.
Adult Learning and Age
The participation rate for the population aged between 25 and 64 in formal and non-
formal adult education is 27.2 per cent for the 12-month period leading up to the
survey. Detailed figures for specific age groups show that participation rates decline
with age: while participation is over 40per cent for people aged between 25 and 29
and declines continuously to 28 per cent up to the age of 49, participation for those
aged 50 and over drops precipitously. One of the reasons for this declining
participation is the low employment rate at and above the age of 55. This
conspicuous drop represents one of the challenges for adult education policy in
Austria; in light of the anticipated increase in the age of retirement and the problems
experienced by older workers in the job market, improving access to and increasing
rates of participation in adult learning for this group is paramount.
Adult Learning and Educational Background
There is a strong correlation between initial formal education and the participation in
continuing education. People who have only attended compulsory education are by
far the least represented group in adult learning, while people with tertiary education
show the highest participation rates. The differences in participation rates in figures
show a dramatic disparity in participation in adult education: The participation rate of
people with a compulsory education amounts to 9.6 per cent, the rate of people who
have finished apprenticeship training is 22.7 per cent. Those who have graduated
from secondary school have a participation rate of about 45 per cent, while those who
have graduated from university have a participation rate of 50 per cent and higher.
Information on Adult Education Opportunities and Incentives for Adult Learning
Surveys show that information on adult learning options is generally easily accessible
– nevertheless, less educated people do experience problems. Interestingly, people
living in rural and sparsely populated areas declare a better access to information on
adult learning offers than those living in heavy populated areas. The main source of
information on adult learning is the internet (61 per cent); mass media (30 per cent),
personal contact (22 per cent), and professional counselling (12 per cent) are
comparatively less popular amongst respondents.




                                                                                        12
                                           Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                           Learning: Austria




5   CLUSTERS OF MEASURES
    Information, Counselling and Guidance Service
    In 2005, a steering group was set up for the coordination and development of a
    strategy for the issues of information, counselling, and orientation in education and
    occupation. A national Lifelong Guidance (LLG) Strategy was published in 2007. The
    meta-objectives are: orientation towards citizens` needs; teaching/strengthening the
    basic competencies for vocational, educational and life planning; secure wide and
    easy access to services. Taking lifelong learning strategies into consideration, in this
    process five priorities were defined:
    -   Implementation of basic competencies in all curricula- Focus on process
        optimisation and support;
    -   Professionalisation of counsellors and trainers;
    -   Quality assurance and evaluation of provision, processes and structures;
    -   Widening access – creating provision for new target groups.
    With the support of the European Social Fund and in coordination with the Länder a
    system of information and guidance was created as platform for all providers of adult
    education. The target is to establish this service in each region of Austria. Easy
    access to this system should be guaranteed. A database eduArd (EDUcation Austria
    Resource Directory) serves this purpose (www.erwachsenenbildung.at). A
    transparent system of quality management was developed and established.
    Professionalisation of LLG: Formation and continuing education is offered at the
    Federal Institute for Adult Education (BIFEB) and validation of formal, non-formal and
    informal competencies in this field is part of the WBA-curriculum
    (Weiterbildunsakademie). A network of professionals has been established including
    instruments of knowledge management.
    Flexibility of Learning Trajectories
    Improved permeability of the educational system is one of the aims of the Austrian
    lifelong learning strategy. Participation in the European Qualifications Framework
    should further contribute to the flexibility of learning trajectories.
    Beyond this activity at the level of education policy, the following measures aimed at
    improving the flexibility of learning trajectories in Austria deserve to be mentioned:
    Exceptional admission to the Apprenticeship-Leave Examination
    The importance of the exceptional admission to the apprenticeship-leave examination
    (Außerordentliche Lehrabschlussprüfung – LAP) can be illustrated by the following
    data: In the year 2009 some 50,000 people took a LAP exam. Approximately 7,300
    examination attempts were exceptional admissions, the majority of which (5,500
    persons) were adults aiming to acquire their first apprenticeship certificate (over 10
    per cent of all apprenticeship diplomas of that year) while the remainder wanted to
    obtain a so-called additional exam. If taking as the basis the exams passed
    successfully rather than examination attempts, this reveals an increasing share of
    positive results obtained in second-chance education (additional exam and first
    qualification): from 8.6 percent to 18.6 percent.
    Berufsreifeprüfung – General Higher Education Entrance Exam for leavers of the
    apprenticeship training and VET schools.


                                                                                         13
                                       Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                       Learning: Austria


The aforementioned Berufsreifeprüfung is a special admissions exam. Introduced in
1997, it provides people without a Reifeprüfung (the leaving certificate for level II of
secondary school) a way to gain access to a university education. In 2006/07, 3.242
people (of whom 53 per cent were male) studying in Austrian universities had gained
admission via this examination; this figure represents around 1.5 per cent of the total
numbers of students. At Fachhochschulen (Universities of Applied Sciences), the
fraction of people who gained admission via the Berufsreifeprüfung (4.5 per cent out
of a total of 28.400 and of whom 68 per cent were male) is significantly higher
(Statistik Austria 2008: p. 202, 267). The number of people who are preparing for the
Berufsreifeprüfung in courses in any given examination period is approximately 6.000.
Studienberechtigungsprüfung – University Entrance Examination
The university entrance examination (Studienberechtigungsprüfung or SBP) was
introduced in 1985: It allows those who have not taken the Reifeprüfung to acquire a
study programme oriented qualification entitling them to study at an HE institution as
a regular student, such as universities, Fachhochschule programs, teacher training
colleges and postsecondary VET courses.
Quality Management
The Austrian Adult Education is characterized by a great number of heterogeneous
providers and offers different quality management systems and quality assurance
procedures. Most adult education institutions are certified by ISO (International
Organization for Standardization), LQW (Lernerorientierte Qualitätstestierung in der
Weiterbildung) or similar systems.
To strengthen transparency and simplified administration, and to promote an overall
strategy of quality, the Austrian Federal Ministry for Education, Arts and Culture
developed the Ö-CERT in cooperation with leading Austrian experts, representatives
of the nine Austrian Länder and providers of adult education.
The Ö-Cert – an initiative of quality assurance and an overall framework of quality for
adult learning institutions in Austria – will start in 2011.
Outreach Work to Specific Target Groups; Community-Based Learning
Environments
“Integration Agreement” (“Integrationsvereinbarung”)
In order to comply with the “integration agreement” that is now part of law relating to
migrants in Austria, immigrants from non-EU countries are forced to prove their
competence in the German language at a specific level. This has led to serious
irritations within the adult education community, whose self-concept was based on the
voluntariness of adult learning.
Learn Forever
The ESF- and BMUKK-funded network of experts Learn Forever encourages projects
that motivate women to participate in adult learning. The women targeted are
generally unskilled or did not keep up with developments in information technology or
with education in general, and who are difficult to reach by adult learning measures.
The network itself is primarily active in the development of different measures and
evaluation of projects aimed at women in rural areas.
Basic Education
There are also efforts to reach people who cannot read and write. The network MIKA
(migration-competence-alphabetisation) – supported by the BMUKK and the ESF
(2008-2011) – is aiming at improving continuing training for professionals working in




                                                                                     14
                                             Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                             Learning: Austria


      the area of basic education for people with diverse migration backgrounds and
      developing and disseminating didactical materials for this special target group.
      There is another project aiming at establishing and sustaining a network between
      institutions providing basic education and other partners: “In.Bewegung”. It started in
      2005 and is now working in its third phase (2010-2011). Funding is provided by the
      BMUKK and ESF. The network is working on improving learning opportunities,
      spreading information and literature about the issue, and addressing the general
      public, companies and public institutions.
      Acknowledgment of Prior (Experimental) Learning
      In the last decade, the acknowledgement of competencies has become a major aim
      of Austria’s lifelong learning strategy. Different procedures and instruments were
      developed to this end, for instance an instrument following the Swiss model of chance
      qualification (Chance Qualifikation - CH-Q), a competence assessment model
      (“Kompetenzenbilanz”) and a competence management system for people with a
      migration background in Upper Austria that also follows the model of CH-Q. None of
      these instruments is yet formally implemented in the Austrian educational system for
      recognition and assessment.
      Weiterbildungsakademie Österreich – Austrian Academy of Continuing Education
      An example of an effort to support all people working in the field of adult education
      (e.g., trainers, counsellors, librarians, educational managers) for whom no single
      formal vocation exists is the Austrian Academy of Continuing Education
      (Weiterbildungsakademie Österreich – WBA). This academy, which collaborates with
      all major adult education providers in Austria, sets standards in the form of a
      curriculum, and people can undergo a process of validating their formally, non-
      formally and informally acquired competencies. The recognition is validated in a two
      level process, graduates achieve the WBA-certificate and as a next step the WBA-
      diploma if they comply with the requirements of the curriculum. In 2011, a new master
      programme (MAS) of the University of Klagenfurt in cooperation with the Federal
      Institute for Adult Education will accept the WBA-Diploma as a prerequisite for their
      course. As of 2010, 328 trainers have acquired a WBA-certificate, and 95 trainers the
      WBA-diploma.
      Economic Instruments
      Adult learning in Austria is promoted using a variety of economic measures: adult
      learning is supported by the social partners and public authorities; educational leave
      is funded by the semi-autonomous Federal Employment Agency; the Chamber of
      Labour is funding educational bonuses (“Bildungsbonus”); educational cheques
      (“Bildungsschecks”) are funded by Länder authorities; fiscal bonuses (Individual
      expenses on continuing vocational education are tax deductible) are a federal
      concern; etc. The efficiency of these instruments with respect to access and outcome
      has not been comprehensively evaluated.


6     THE FIVE PRIORITIES OF THE ACTION PLAN ON ADULT
      LEARNING
6.1   Analyse effects of reforms in other educational sectors on adult learning
      As educational research shows, the early educational career is highly relevant for the
      participation in adult education. On this account, reforms in the early stages of the
      educational system should be mentioned here.



                                                                                          15
                                              Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                              Learning: Austria


      School reforms during the last decades were largely implemented on the local level.
      The aim was to improve the quality of schools by means of competition. This was
      successful to some extent as it led to limited improvements and local innovations.
      The main educational reform at the federal level, the introduction of the New
      Secondary School (Neue Mittelschule) as a pilot project affects pupils aged between
      10 and 14 years; The Austrian government decided to extend the pilot project. In the
      long run, this reform is supposed to establish a comparable and fair education for all
      pupils in this age group. At the moment the early division of pupils at the age of 10
      between the upper secondary school (Allgemein bildende höhere Schule,
      “Gymnasium”) and the general secondary school (Hauptschule) is one of the main
      topics within of the Austrian Educational System.
      In 2008, the government started to introduce the compulsory and free attendance of
      the kindergarten for children at the age of five. This measure aims, amongst other
      things, to improve the language skills of pupils attending primary school. Deficits in
      education will be corrected as early as possible to enable all pupils to successfully
      participate in education. Early Education shall also be improved by the planned
      upgrading of the kindergarten teachers’ training, which currently takes place at the
      upper secondary level.
      The introduction of the General Higher Education Entrance Exam for leavers of the
      apprenticeship training and VET schools (Berufsreifeprüfung) as an equivalent to the
      Reifeprüfung certificate dates back to the late 1990s. The Berufsreifeprüfung-
      certificate allows access to all fields of study at universities. Alternatively, the
      university entrance examination (Studienberechtigungsprüfung) also enables
      students without the Reifeprüfung to attend university. Yet, this certificate is limited to
      specific fields of study. The Berufsreifeprüfung has enabled more people to attend
      tertiary education and can therefore be seen as an important success of educational
      reforms in Austria.
6.2   Improve the quality of provision and staffing
      The Federal Institute for Adult Education (BIFEB) serves as a competence centre for
      continuing education and training. Its main task is the professionalisation of adult
      learning through continuing education for all people working in the field of adult
      learning and education. The BIFEB is also responsible for the following initiative:
      The Austrian Academy of Continuing Education (Weiterbildungsakademie Österreich
      - WBA) was founded to enable all people working in the field of adult education, for
      whom no single formal vocation exists, to acquire a vocational certificate and/or
      diploma as adult educators. The academy sets standards in the form of a curriculum,
      and people can undergo a process by which formally, non-formally and informally
      acquired competencies are assessed and validated. Missing qualifications can be
      obtained by participating in courses offered by different providers. The Academy of
      Continuing Education collaborates with all major adult education providers in Austria.
      After fulfilling the requirements of the curriculum, graduates receive a certificate or
      diploma. In 2011 a new master programme (MAS) of the University of Klagenfurt in
      cooperation with the BIFEB will accept the WBA-Diploma as a prerequisite. As of
      2010, 328 trainers have acquired a WBA-certificate, 95 trainers the WBA-diploma.
      The WBA is recognised as an example of good practice not only nationally, but also
      in an international context.
      The upgrading of the Pädagogische Akademien (vocational training institutions for
      teachers) to Pädagogische Hochschulen (University Colleges for Teacher Training)
      allows them to act as educational centres for teachers and trainers in adult education,
      thus upgrading them to the HE-sector.



                                                                                              16
                                              Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                              Learning: Austria




      Improvement of quality of adult education providers
      In March 2009, contract managements (Leistungsvereinbarungen) were concluded
      between the Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture and the associations within
      the Conference of Adult Education in Austria (KEBÖ). These agreements define the
      Ministry´s obligation to cover the structural funding of these institutions (increasing the
      existing budget at the same time), for a period of three years. Moreover, they include
      general and institution-specific objectives and indicators. The objectives and
      indicators safeguard the implementation of joint educational policy priorities, like open
      access; transparency; provision of training, guidance and counselling; programmes in
      the fields of second-chance and basic education; political and cultural education;
      courses to improve social competencies and the support personal development.
      Responsibilities include facilitating the process of the professional development of
      teachers, trainers and administrative staff.
6.3   Increase the possibilities to achieve a qualification at least one level higher
      In 2007, the Ministry of Education, the Arts and Culture started a comprehensive
      programme to support people with low levels of formal education, immigrant and
      socially disadvantaged people in obtaining educational qualifications. The programme
      includes basic education projects in order to facilitate entry into continuing education
      processes. Furthermore adults are encouraged to obtain secondary education
      qualifications in order to gain access to further general and vocational education.
      Projects offering courses for the vocational school-leaving-certificate, the
      Berufsreifeprüfung-certificate and the university entrance examination (SBP) provide
      opportunities to access higher education at a later point in adult life. All these
      measures serve to increase the level of qualification and to improve career prospects.
      Fifteen project networks, including 48 different adult education institutions, are taking
      part in this programme. The financial resources provided by the Ministry of Education,
      the Arts and Culture and the ESF were increased significantly in 2007. A total sum of
      €25 million will be spent on these measures by 2010.
      Apprenticeships and school-leaving certificates – the Higher Education Entrance
      Exam for apprentices (Lehre mit Reifeprüfung)
      According to an amendment to the Act on Vocational School-leaving Certificates,
      apprentices in the dual system (attendance of vocational school and workplace
      training) are now able to obtain vocational school-leaving certificates as an equivalent
      to Reifeprüfung, enabling them to enter the HE sector Preparatory courses to acquire
      the certificate are offered in vocational schools. The preparation for the tests in
      German, a foreign language, mathematics and technical skills takes a period of
      approximately three years. An extension of the apprenticeship up to one year to
      receive not only the vocational certificate but also the school leaving certificate is
      common practice.
      Support for apprenticeships
      In order to safeguard the opportunities for access to initial vocational training, it has
      proved worthwhile to have a safety net for young people looking for apprenticeships.
      This safety net has been improved upon and substantially extended in accordance
      with the Youth Training Act (Jugendausbildungssicherungsgesetz). Young people
      who are unable to find a suitable apprenticeship after they finished school are
      supported by guidance and apprenticeship positions available outside of companies.
      The aim is to allow them to switch into apprenticeship positions offered by companies
      at a later point in time. An additional part of the safety net called "integrated
      vocational training" (part-time or extended apprenticeship) was introduced in 2003. In



                                                                                              17
                                             Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                             Learning: Austria


      order to utilise the spare training capacity of apprenticeships within firms,
      apprenticeship positions were created ”outside” companies in company-like
      organisations (überbetriebliche Lehrlingausbildung).
      The number of participants in this programme successively increased over the last
      few years. In 2006/07 a total number of 11.500 young people were enrolled in the
      programme.
      Tertiary level
      A number of initiatives, in particular part-time study programmes, are aiming at
      allowing more people to get access to higher education. Such programmes are
      promoted by the government, e.g. through the current funding and development plan
      for higher education colleges. Universities are required by the government to
      integrate lifelong learning opportunities in their programmes. These requirements are
      included in development plans and performance agreements concluded between
      universities and the government. The continuing education programmes offered by
      universities and higher education colleges promote access to higher education on the
      basis of the recognition of relevant subject-specific qualifications, prior learning, and
      work experience. The higher education institutions have the right to determine the
      admission criteria for these programmes, which offer several ways of alternative
      access for non-traditional students.
6.4   Speed up the process of assessing and recognising non-formal and informal
      learning for disadvantaged groups
      There is no general and comprehensive system for the recognition of non-formal and
      informal learning in Austria so far. However, there are examples in certain areas that
      incorporate elements and principles of recognition and that permit convergence with
      or integration into the National Qualifications Framework. Such examples are the
      Austrian Academy of Continuing Education (Weiterbildungsakademie), the
      accreditation of prior learning (primarily formal learning) as part of the General Higher
      Education Entrance Exam for leavers of the apprenticeship training and VET schools
      (Berufsreifeprüfung), and the exceptional admission to the apprenticeship-leave
      examination (Außerordentliche Lehrabschlussprüfung).
      In 2007, two working groups on non-formal and informal learning were established
      within the Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture, working on different aspects of
      the process of validation and recognition of learning outcomes (methodically and
      institutionally).
      Some initiatives at the level of adult education providers are aimed at the recognition
      of prior learning, including for disadvantaged groups. At the adult education centre in
      Linz (Volkshochschule Linz), for example, an instrument was developed according to
      the Swiss model of chance qualification (Chance Qualifikation - CH-Q), while a
      competence assessment model (“Kompetenzenbilanz”) was developed at the
      Zukunftszentrum Tirol; both of these instruments have now seen years of use and are
      evaluated, yet not implemented, within the formal educational system. Another
      example is the competence management system for people with a migration
      background in Upper Austria that also follows the model of CH-Q.
6.5   Improve the monitoring of the adult learning sector
      The collection of basic statistical data of the members of the conference of adult
      education (KEBÖ) dates back to the 1980s. In 2008, a new effort was launched to
      improve statistical information on the provision and participation in adult education.
      These data are part of the Contract Managements (Leistungsvereinbarungen)
      between the Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture (BMUKK) and the KEBÖ.



                                                                                            18
                                      Country Report on the Action Plan on Adult
                                      Learning: Austria


In 2009, the first nationwide education report (Bildungsbericht) was presented by the
BMUKK. The education report is expected to provide a basis for the establishment of
evidence-based policy in the field of education. The first education report focuses on
formal education and does not include any statistical data or analysis of adult
education. For the future, it would be desirable if the education report included
monitoring of adult education to make visible the importance of non-formal adult
education.




                                                                                   19

				
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