The Austrian Guidance System
There are two established guidance and counselling systems in Austria working in cooperation with each other: guidance and counselling provided by education and training institutions, and guidance services provided by the employment administration and other institutions in the field of careers guidance. The active role of the social partners (Chamber of Commerce, Chamber of Labour) in the provision of career guidance is a prominent feature of the Austrian guidance system.
Young people have many options for careers guidance available both inside and outside the school system. There are six Psychological Counselling Centres in Austria for prospective and active university students, whereas the Public Employment Service Austria (PES) is an important stakeholder in career guidance for adults. Adults can also receive free educational guidance in each of the nine federal provinces of Austria.
The key educational policy goals in this area are set out in the national Lifelong Guidance (LLG) Strategy, which establishes a general framework for the further development of educational counselling and careers guidance as an integral component of the Austrian National Strategy for Lifelong Learning (website in German). Lifelong guidance has a central role and is one of the five key strategic guidelines in the strategy and an element in at least seven of the ten lifelong learning-action lines within the strategy. Progress is monitored every year by the national lifelong guidance forum, consisting of representatives of two Ministries (the Education, Science and Research Ministry and the Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection Ministry), the public employment service, adult education institutions and networks, research institutions, university colleges for teacher training and Euroguidance Austria. The following five key priorities of the national LLG Strategy are:
- The implementation of basic competences in all curricula so that learners can make education and career decisions autonomously.
- A focus on process orientation and monitoring to enable high-quality decision-making processes.
- The professionalisation of counsellors and trainers.
- Quality assurance and evaluation of offers, processes and structures.
- The extension of access by creating offers for new target groups.
Services and practice
Guidance for young people: In Austria, young people have many options for careers guidance both inside and outside the school system. Within the school system, careers guidance is delivered according to the national IBOBB concept (Information, Beratung und Orientierung für Bildung und Beruf), tailored to each specific school site on secondary Level I and II, of which each has its specific IBOBB concept that combine the available support measures, overseen by one trained and appointed career guidance co-ordinator in each school.
Careers guidance in schools is based on three pillars:
1. Careers education classes (known as Berufsorientierung or BO), provided by career education teachers for children aged 12-14
2. Individual student counselling, provided by student advisors supporting students in their decision-making process.
3. Real-life encounters (work placements and trips to job fairs) giving students the opportunity to gather practical experience.
These measures are supplemented by the School Psychological and Educational Counselling Service Unit, which can offer specialised assistance. Outside the school system a wide range of other individuals and bodies (such as the Public Employment Service and services set up by social partners) offer careers guidance in guidance centres. Youth Coaching is an assistance programme for young people at the end of their mandatory schooling or after they leave school to encourage them to move into further education.
Guidance in Higher Education: 18plus. Career and Study Checker is a major programme, involving measures such as portfolio building, group and individual counselling and aptitude tests to ensure that people choose the right educational course for them. Find out more about study options in Austrian tertiary education at www.Studienwahl.at and www.learninginaustria.at. The six Student Psychological Counselling Centres support prospective university students with their choices and with starting their academic study programmes, coach them in their personal development and provide advice regarding academic and personal concerns.
In Austrian universities, careers service centres provide guidance regarding choices of profession and serve as recruiting service providers for young students and graduates.
Careers guidance for adults: The Public Employment Service Austria (AMS) is a major stakeholder in educational counselling and careers guidance for people on the labour market. Guidance services at AMS are mainly offered by counsellors in their careers guidance centres (BIZ). Adults who are changing careers are given support and information on education/training and career options, while there are also events on offer (e.g. on labour market trends) and workshops (e.g. on professional self-exploration and job applications). See also www.ams.at/english
Free educational guidance for adults is offered in each of the nine federal provinces of Austria within the framework of the regional networks for educational and vocational guidance. Overview in German
Online educational guidance is provided for adults mainly via email and instant messaging.
There is no clearly regulated training in Austria for guidance practitioners. There are, however, several training courses of varying length on offer for guidance counsellors:
- A three-semester diploma training course in educational and career counselling at the Federal Institute of Adult Education (bifeb)
- A one-year course – Training for careers and educational guidance – at WIFI Wien
- Seven-month (incl. 200 training units/hours) diploma training course – Education and careers coach – at bfi Wien
- A training course in Educational, vocational and careers counselling at Danube University Krems, for two, three or five semesters, which awards a certificate, the professional title ‘Academic Expert’ or an MA respectively.
- Within the school system, specific curricula are set up in teacher training colleges according to the above mentioned IBOBB concept to train student counsellors, career education teachers and career guidance co-ordinators. For more information see https://bildung.bmbwf.gv.at/schulen/bo/schul_ansprech/index.html#heading_Lehrerqualifikation
- In addition, for AMS counsellors, there is the option to attend an internal training course organised by the labour market service.
Research and development work
The Public Employment Service (PES) research network of the AMS Austria and the Department for Labour Market Research and Vocational Information contains comprehensive information and a service platform, which aims to present and utilise research results and activities relating to the labour market, vocational training, education and qualifications in Austria.
Numerous studies on guidance related topics, commissioned by the Austrian labour market service and carried out by Austrian research institutions can be found in the network’s online library.
The two institutions forming the ReferNet Austria consortium – ibw Austria-Research & Development in VET (coordinator) and the Austrian Institute for Research on Vocational Training (öbif) – are responsible for carrying out the annual work programme laid down by Cedefop.
Ethical issues are an integral part of guidance counsellor training offered in Austria, generally in reference to the IAEVG ethical standards.
A national association of guidance counsellors in Austria has not yet been established.