The support and promotion of disadvantaged people is an important concern of education and labour market policy in Austria. The measures taken in this area aim to create more equality of opportunities so that all people can participate in economic and social prosperity.
Relevant (legal) provision for special educational needs:
- Kindergarten: The agreement pursuant to Art. 15a of the Federal Constitutional Law (Bundes-Verfassungsgesetz, B-VG) on Elementary Education forms the basis for the best possible equality of opportunities in elementary education.
- Pupils: School Education Act (Schulunterrichtsgesetz), School Organisation Act (Schulorganisationsgesetz), Compulsory Schooling Act (Schulpflichtgesetz)
- Apprentices: Vocational Training Act (Berufsausbildungsgesetz)
- Students: Universities Act 2002 (Universitätsgesetz 2002), National strategy on the social dimension of higher education (Online ressource, GER) (Nationale Strategie zur sozialen Dimension in der Hochschulbildung)
The following laws deal with equal opportunities in terms of school education and professional integration of disabled people:
- Federal Disability Act (Bundesbehindertengesetz)
- Disabled Persons Employment Act (Behinderteneinstellungsgesetz)
- various provincial laws
In addition, the Austrian Federal Government has developed strategies for equal opportunities and to balance out educational disadvantages. The most important are:
- National Action Plan on Disability 2022 – 2030
- National Strategy to Prevent Dropout from Education and Training
- Strategy for Lifelong Learning
- National Action Plan for Integration (NAP.I). Not a strategy paper in the narrower sense, but one that is geared towards the “Europe 2020” strategy and the National Reform Programme, is the “Operational Programme Employment Austria 2014-2020” (ESF OP). Listed in this are all investment priorities for Austria in order to increase labour participation, reduce the number of early school leavers and combat poverty.
This results in a range of educational counselling offers and support measures for different target groups:
- In the field of elementary education, against the background of intensifying early language support for 4-year-olds in elementary educational institutions, holistic support is being pursued, especially in the educational language German, in order to make it easier for children to enter primary school and to increase their educational opportunities for their further educational and professional life, irrespective of their socio-economic and cultural background.
- General educational counselling and career guidance at school: There are various offers for educational counselling and career guidance so that pupils can find out the information they need. For pupils in the seventh and eighth grades, there are also career guidance classes. In addition, support possibilities are available for various areas such as health, conflict resolution and social issues. The most important partner for this is the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.
- General educational counselling and career guidance outside school: Outside the school sector, various interest groups/institutions offer educational counselling and career guidance, such as the social partners, Public Employment Service Austria (AMS) and many others.
- Special support measures are available, above all for pupils with learning difficulties, pupils who are at risk of dropping out from school or training and pupils with a migration background. These measures are mainly provided by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research.
- Universities, universities of applied sciences and university colleges of teacher education as well as non-university institutions provide help for disabled and chronically ill students, students with care obligations, employed students and students in second-chance education, students in financial distress and students with refugee status.
- Extensive measures are also available for learners in adult education and training. The comprise low qualified people and early school leavers, people with special needs and adults with a migration background. These measures are mostly based on national strategies of the Austrian Federal Government. There are also offers of AMS Austria and the social partners.