As part of the implementation of the Project ‘Promoting VET in computer, electrical/electronic and mechanical engineering to reduce skills mismatch – ProCEM’ (2021-2-HR01-KA210-VET-000050927), funded within the ERASMUS + programme, the representatives of Croatian partners in the Project, AEI Praxis, Technical School Karlovac and Croatian Employment Service – Regional Office Karlovac, visited their Austrian partners in Vienna, ÖSB Consulting in the period from April 25th to 28th, 2022. The aim was to screen their best practice examples in youth coaching and counselling, in which our Austrian counterparts have a lot of experience. The practices presented in Vienna involved working with youth in the field of youth counselling/coaching and professional orientation.
In Austrian education system, the schooling system is divided into lower primary school (grades 1-4), upper primary school (grades 5-8), secondary school (grades 9-14), and higher education (BA and MA). Secondary education involves integrative education, integrative vocational school, VET school (lower and upper), grammar school and medical school. The education system includes the adult education as well. By completing secondary schools, their students acquire 1st qualification and right to enrol higher education levels (BA, MA, PhD).
Austrian not only students, but also any vulnerable categories of youth, can use youth coaching. Youth coaching is funded by the Social Ministry Service and has existed since 2012. For example, it offers young people who have dropped out of school and are at risk of exclusion counselling to help them decide on their further education and career path. It targets young people over 15 years of age and helps them resolve issues such are dilemmas whether to drop out of school, what kind of job interests them, where can they find support, etc.It provides individual support until sustainable integration into a further education system or the labour market is achieved. The counselling services also include supporting young people in those areas (personal and social problem areas), which can hinder their ability to complete their education. The principles of youth coaching are based on the principle of voluntariness of all participants, on a relationship of trust and resource-oriented work with young people. The active inclusion of young people’s social environment is strived for and the coaches/counsellors are helping young people to become aware of their own abilities and skills, find their professional interests and get precise information on their prospective education path.
The coaching system itself is divided into three steps, and all are led by fully qualified counsellors:
- Stage 1 – Initial chat: This is where candidates get general information. If they need more support, they proceed to stage 2 or 3.
- Stage 2 – Advice: This stage gives candidates a little more time to clarify the following questions like:
- Do you want to continue going to school?
- What job interests you?
- Is there anything that makes it more difficult for you to learn or work?
- Stage 3 – Support: This stage can last up to one year. Candidates can get practical experience in the world of work and a report with clear recommendations for their future.
Youth coaching is important to prevent early school and education drop-out and thus low qualification levels, keep young people in education and training until they are 19 if possible, and reintegrate young people outside the school system and work with them to develop suitable perspectives. It is also very important for raising self-awareness in young people as it is crucial in their successful job search. The model is very successful and brings out positive results.