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Tracing careers
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Tracing Careers in Austria and Germany (Bavaria)

Werner Kusch & Monika Thum-Kraft

Summary of the updated topic study - September 1999
(Original topic study of 1997 and update of 1999 in DUOQUAL folder)


Reference to national case studies on dual qualifications in Austria and Germany.


This chapter investigates typical vocational and educational career paths of participants taking qualifications with a dual orientation towards skilled employment and higher educa-tion in Austria and Germany(Bavaria).  In Germany(Bavaria) this double qualification is offered via a pilot project within the dual system (vocational training at the workplace and in the vocational school) and in Austria as adult school supplementary training, while stu-dents work full-time during the day. 
The following investigation should be seen as an update of the report –put together for the pilot project INTEQUAL (Tracing Careers, Austria, France and Germany. Henri Eckert, Jean-Louis Kirsch, Werner Kusch und Monika Thum-Kraft. In: Qualifications for employment and higher education-a collaborative investigation across Europe. Edited by Alan Brown and Sabine Manning; Hämeenlinna 1998)– on the practical application, in the world of work, of knowledge acquired in different career paths. It aims at presenting more current data and changes in the double qualification routes in Austria and Germany (Bavaria), and looks at the extent to which they influence the ultimate vocational career path chosen, and the number of students opting for employment as against higher studies.

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The evaluation evidence is drawn from survey data.  The German data stem from the re-sults of the evaluation of the Bavarian double qualification pilot project, involving dual vocational training and attainment of a Fachhochschule diploma.  As of summer 1999, ap-proximately 168 participants of business technology-related professions had taken part in the pilot project and attained qualifications for admission to higher studies at a German Fachhochschule. In contrast to the full-time German route, Austrian participants receive evening and weekend training at professional academies (WIFI-Fachakademien), while working full-time on the job.  The Austrian data were drawn from approximately 270 use-able questionaires (out of a total of 750)  which were received by late July, 1997. 

Within this context it should be noted that Austrian WIFI Professional Academies do not constitute state-administered vocational pathways, but rather comprise educational oppor-tunities initiated by the Austrian business world and made available by and offered through private industry.  In Germany, the vocational training comprises a combination of volun-tary/elective and mandatory aspects including general education oriented content (within the context of initial vocational training), while Austria offers a vocational/general educa-tion adult education programme for 'older' employees (participants, on average, are 25 years old).  Accordingly, the contents and demands placed on participants vary tremen-dously.  On all two routes, however, participants have the opportunity of attaining not only vocational accreditation, but also the right to be admitted to an institution of  higher study.

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In summary, these new double qualification routes appeared broadly successful in each of the two contexts.  All two vocational education programmes furthered the vocational and general educational qualifications, and thus the professional mobility of their participants.    Three-quarters of those involved in the German pilot project would again choose to partici-pate in such an up-to-date training programme.  Two-thirds of Austrian graduates were similarly positive about their WIFI programme of study, with this figure rising to 86% among those who had progressed to university.  The way these double qualifications were utilised in practice, however, did vary between the contexts.
63% of participants on the Bavarian pilot project wish to pursue higher studies.  Of these, 37% subsequently intend to return to their original training company as a qualified engi-neer.  Only 2% of the participants with the university entrance qualification returned to work without having started higher studies (for the most part to their original training com-pany).  None of the Bavarian participants have, however, had to deal with unemployment because training companies had agreed to guarantee reemployment.  Those participants (here: 24%) who had not yet made up their minds upon being questioned are included un-der the caption of 'other'.

In Austria, only 37% of WIFI graduates made use of their university eligibility, the vast majority continued working at their company, as they had only been studying part-time.  Those who had passed their university entrance examination, but did not proceed to take up studies, listed the following reasons: lack of time; no professional advantages in sight; too theoretical; doesn't fit my career planning; and family-related reasons.  Nonetheless, 74% of all questioned reported benefits in terms of professional development.  Nearly half changed their levels or areas of responsibility which, for the most part, entailed being pro-moted to a position as department head, assistant manager, branch manager, manager or taking up a new sphere of responsibility.  One out of every six graduates were able to im-prove their financial standing.  Also quite interesting to note is that Austrian women were more likely to pass their university qualification examination than their male counterparts.

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 First set up 08/12/1999
Latest update: 08/12/1999
 Contact: Sabine Manning