Innovative Policy 2013 on Employment

Austria’s right to an inclusive apprenticeship

Many young people with disabilities and performance problems do not complete apprenticeships. Recognizing this, Austria introduced accommodations to help young people to successfully conclude their vocational education and training and to receive a qualification.

The Austrian Vocational Training Act
Founded on:2003
of origin
Beneficiaries targetedYoung people whom the employment services could not place in a regular vocational training position, who had special needs at the end of obligatory school, who did not finish a degree or received low votes, and people with disabilities under the terms of the Act on Employment of Persons with Disabilities.
Responsible bodyFederal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection
StakeholdersPublic and private sector


On the basis of a pilot apprenticeship model introduced by a parent association in 1999 in Styria, the Austrian Vocational Training Act of 1969 was amended in 2003. In order to make the vocational training system more accessible to many youth, including those with disabilities, and to enhance considerably their labour market integration, the possibility of undertaking a prolonged or partial qualification was introduced. Being the first example in German-speaking countries, the Austrian inclusive apprenticeship model is based foremost on company-based vocational training, which is legally indicated to be preferred.


  • In 2011, 7,014 persons were undergoing mostly prolonged Inclusive Vocational Training, of whom about 20% were young people with disabilities
  • About 61% were trained in companies and almost 70% of graduates with inclusive company-based vocational training were still employed after four years, versus only 44% of dropouts and graduates from vocational training institutions
  • However, graduates qualifying in vocational training institutions still had, one month after qualification, higher chances of being employed (20%) than those without inclusive training (8%)
© dermaurer, Diakonie de La Tour

© Dermaurer, Diakonie de La Tour


Tailored accommodations
The young person chooses between prolonged and partial qualification, and is included in the regular classes of vocational schools, mostly with the help of support teachers.

Adequate support
If socio-educational, psychological and educational problems arise, the vocational training assistance helps to solve them by meeting representatives of educational establishments, vocational training institutions and vocational schools.

In-company training
Company-based vocational training is to be preferred. Most of the small and medium sized enterprises, who offer inclusive apprenticeships, had already trained youth with disabilities. Positively, even though most rely on the financial support, about 44% would offer these apprenticeships anyway.


In 1998 existed already pre-vocational training in Austria, which was, however, not much used by young people. Acknowledging that many young people with disabilities or performance problems needed accommodations in order to receive a qualification, in 1999, a parent association developed a pilot model for young people with special needs in vocational training, which was implemented in the region of Styria. On the basis of this model, Styria developed vocational training leading to partial qualification. In parallel, the provisions on Inclusive Vocational Training were being written and entered in force in September 2003, when §8b-c was introduced into the Vocational Training Act of 1969, a provision which later became permanent, in 2008. Since 2003 accommodations in vocational training provided either for the prolongation of the legally prescribed period of apprenticeship or for a partial qualification, with the help of the vocational training assistance.

«With its inclusive apprenticeship model Austria has laid the fundaments for successfully qualifying numerous young people who otherwise would have little chances to enter the labour market.»

Hansjörg Hofer, Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection


Under §8b-c of the Austrian Vocational Training Act of 1969 young people with special needs, including those with disabilities, are offered the opportunity to undertake Inclusive Vocational Training (IBA), which can be undertaken in two ways. Either it can provide for the prolongation, of up to a year (exceptionally up to two years), of the legally prescribed period for an apprenticeship, leading to a regular qualification; or the implementation of a vocational training contract limiting the job description of an apprenticeship with possible supplements from other apprenticeships, leading to a partial qualification. The IBA is arranged, like regular vocational training, in a dual system. It can be offered either by companies (which is given preference) or by vocational training institutions, complemented by vocational schools. In vocational schools apprentices are included in the regular classes. In most regions, support teachers are used, the number of pupils per class is reduced or support classes are offered. A central element of the IBA is the vocational training assistance, i.e. professionals, who have to help solve problems, to define the objectives of IBA and to participate in, and carry out, the examination.


Recently incentives for companies have been increased. In addition, a pilot programme addresses early school leavers and transition from school to work. A further increase of resources for vocational schools is needed in order to ensure that young people with high support needs are not excluded.


Mr. Hansjörg HOFER
Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection
+43 17 11 00 61 93

Diakonie Austria
+43 14 09 80 01 10


The Austrian Vocational Training Act of 1969, including recent amendments, available in German at:

Petra Pinetz and Wilfried Prammer, Die Integrative Berufsausbildung in Österreich – eine Ausbildungsform für behinderte Jugendliche?!, Zeitschrift für Inklusion 1 (2010), available at: /44/51

Helmut Dornmayr, Employment of Graduates of Inclusive Vocational Training Programmes. An Analysis of Career Pathways, ibw Research Brief, Issue No. 74 (April 2012), ibw – Institut für Bildungsforschung der Wirtschaft, available at:

Nominated by: Ms. Katharina MEICHENITSCH,Diakonie Austria