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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Continuing professional development for teachers working in early childhood and school education


9.Teachers and education staff

9.3Continuing professional development for teachers working in early childhood and school education

Last update: 4 April 2024


Prior to the 2013 amendment to the Service Act for the Pedagogical Service (Federal Law Gazette No. 211/2013), in-service training was only mandatory for compulsory school teachers. This resulted in serious differences between compulsory school teachers and teachers in the secondary school system in terms of the days of in-service training invested, according to the 2018 National Education Report.

Under the new employment law, teachers have to undergo 15 hours of further training per year outside of teaching hours.


Organisational aspects


ECEC teachers

The continuing education and training (CET) of kindergarten teachers is regulated in provincial law. There is an obligation to undergo continuing education and training in all federal provinces. The extent varies between two days (16 teaching units) and four days per year depending on the function and position in the institution (teaching or management staff).

There are also different regulations regarding whether in-service training is to be completed during or outside the opening hours of the kindergarten. The continuing education and training (mainly courses, training programmes or workshops) is usually coordinated and (co-)financed by the management of the child education establishment. In-service trainings are especially offered by:

  • the respective bodies of provincial governments (departments for in-service training),
  • the providers of kindergartens (such as Caritas, the municipality, diocesan administrations),
  • large CET providers (e.g. adult education centres and CET institutions of the social partners, WIFI and bfi) and
  • university colleges of teacher education (Pädagogische Hochschulen).


New educational support priorities also generate new training and further education opportunities, the use of which must be coordinated and organized by the staff within the institutions. For example, the 2019 amendment to the law focused on language development for children with the mandatory implementation of a language assessment.

In order to support language promotion measures, the course “Early language promotion” is offered at university colleges of teacher education throughout Austria with a total of 6 ECTS. According to the agreement pursuant to Art. 15a B-VG between the Federal Government and the federal provinces on early childhood education for the kindergarten years 2022/23 to 2026/27, all teachers employed in early language promotion must have language skills at level C1 and a qualification in accordance with the qualification course for early language support. With the introduction of the new compulsory subject “Early language education and support”, which came into force in the 2023/24 school year, the topic was further strengthened in all forms of training. Likewise, the above-mentioned agreement provides for two compulsory continuing education and training days per kindergarten year.


Teachers at primary and secondary level

Continuing professional development measures mean all personal development, in-depth subject-specific or occupational field-related offers which serve the purpose of

  • the professionalisation of teachers,
  • improving teaching quality
  • and supporting the teaching and school (quality) development.

While in-service training is not primarily a matter of obtaining further qualifications and authorisations but rather acquiring, adapting, deepening or extending professional competences, continuing education and training offers lead to additional qualifications which are often also connected with new authorisations (e.g. training to become a mentor for the induction period).

Since the school year 2014/2015 a new Service Code has been in effect (cf. 2013 Amendment to the Service Code). The new Service Code applies to all teachers who entered the school service (primary and secondary level) since school year 2019/2020.

According to the old Service Code, the following regulations apply with regard to continuing professional development:

  • According to the Service Act for teachers employed by provinces, teachers at general compulsory schools, i.e. at primary and lower secondary level, are required to take part in in-service training events for 15 hours (as part of the annual standard). This in-service training is compulsory and, preferably, must be fulfilled when there are no lessons.
  • Teachers at intermediate and upper secondary schools at federal level (i.e. at upper secondary level) in an employment relationship under public law are then obliged to participate in courses if this is required in the interests of the service. Continuing professional development is therefore an employment obligation but this is not quantified (i.e. there is no defined minimum duration). There is no obligation to undergo personal development.


According to the new Service Code, all teachers – irrespective of the school at which they teach and which subject they teach – are obliged to undergo part-time further development measures to improve their profession-oriented competences. By order they are required to attend in-service training events for up to 15 hours per school year while there are no lessons. In-service training programmes may be connected with an omission from teaching only if in the significant interest of the service.

Regarding the organisation of continuing professional development activities, they can be offered

  • either for teachers of a school (in-house in-service teacher training – schulinterne Lehrer-Fortbildung or SCHILF)
  • or for several schools (in-service teacher training for various schools – schulenübergreifende Lehrer-Fortbildung or SCHüLF).


There are also regional, province-wide and nationwide offers as well as subject-specific and interdisciplinary programmes. The main themes of continuing professional development activities cover a wide spectrum. The focuses are in the areas of general pedagogy, subject-specific academic theory, subject-specific didactics and personal development.

Continuing professional development events are primarily offered by the 14 university colleges of teacher education (PHs). Information on nationwide offers is published on the website of the Education Ministry. Teachers can register for these events via the system ‘PH-Online in order (depending on the duration of the event) to be granted leave by the school management or the school supervision to attend this event.

The specific design of the continuing professional development offers is the responsibility of the respective PHs themselves. However, the Education Ministry defines the essential framework conditions:

  • The PH Development Plan 2021-2026 is the current basic document for the management and development of university colleges of teacher education. The strategic objectives also include the further development of teaching in initial, continuing and further education as well as the strengthening of school development guidance and the formation of PH alliances.
  • A Federal Quality Framework (FQF) for the continuous professional development of teachers was introduced to ensure a high-quality offer of continued support and advice geared to the needs of teachers and school leaders (2021).
  • Annually the BMBWF defines priorities for continuing education and training, which are derived from education policy projects. The relevant specialist departments draw up subject profiles for these priorities, on the basis of which the university colleges of teacher education must offer qualifications in further and continuing education. Examples include the qualification offensive to support the 8-point plan on digitalization, language and reading promotion as well as the qualification measures for career changers and school management as part of the teacher recruitment strategy "Klasse-job".


As part of the 8-point plan for the digitalization of Austrian schools, the "digital" training and further education of teachers plays a very important role. The qualification offensive aims to prepare teachers for digitally supported teaching and contribute to improvements in learning management and communication between schools and parents.

From the 2023/24 school year, the new focus on reading will significantly strengthen reading skills in the subject of German at primary and lower secondary level and also as an overarching topic in all subjects.


Incentives, supporting measures and funding for participation in continuing professional development (CPD) activities

In Austria there are no monetary incentives (such as allowances) for people to take part in continuing vocational education and training (CVET) events. This concerns both the field of early childhood education and also the primary and secondary level of pedagogy. The main motivation for participation is to keep subject-related knowledge up to date or obtain better qualifications for a future application (such as school head).


ECEC teachers

There are no uniform national provisions on the coverage of costs for continuing education and training. However, many courses are organised free of charge or with a very low co-payment by the further training institutions of the provinces or legal entities.

The university colleges of teacher education are also increasingly offering continuing education and training courses for early childhood education staff, such as the university course “Early language promotion” or courses on transition support. Programmes offered at university colleges of teacher education are free of charge. In addition, all provinces offer advice or training in the field of language promotion in ECEC services / institutions, often in cooperation with the university colleges of teacher education.


Teachers at primary and secondary level

Certain activities and functions which teachers are able to carry out in addition to their teaching work require the completion of compulsory continuing education and training programmes (e.g. mentor work as part of the induction period, educational counselling and career guidance at schools). These activities/functions are also connected with financial allowances.

For continuing professional development in the area of primary and secondary level pedagogy federal/provincial funds are used. The funds are provided directly to the provider establishment so that participation is free of charge for the teachers.

Even if there is no representative survey of demand, according to the 2018 National Education Report, an increasing demand for teacher training and further training can be assumed in the future due to social changes (heterogeneity of learning requirements in the migration society: keyword inclusion and diversity, educational tasks in all-day schools,) but also due to competence orientation and individual competence measurement PLUS, the school autonomy package, German support classes, school development and interface management as well as quality assurance.

Teacher training as part of needs-oriented personnel development should be more the responsibility of school management than it has been the case to date, according to a recommendation of the National Education Report: "Good school management is evident when continuing professional development (CPD) is an integral part of development plans and is systematically coordinated with the school's goals." According to the report, it is also important to implement e-learning more strongly in the teacher training and further education.