After completing my education in South Africa and starting my journey into the world of job seeking in London, I remember constantly hearing the phrase “I am sorry but you do not have enough experience in this job field”. I would turn away wondering how on earth I am supposed to get any experience if no one will hire someone with no experience? A slight catch 22 if you ask me, which is why I think that Austrians definitely hit the proverbial nail on the head when they decided to opt for a more practice orientated education system.
Children start school when they are six years old and go to “Volksschule” or primary school. After four years they continue onto “Gymnasium” or secondary school for another eight years. This is the general compulsory education in Austria, with secondary schools focusing on preparing students to enter a university for advanced academic study. Secondary schooling is broken down into two stages from the age of 11 to 14 and from 15 to 18 years old. The latter includes the high school exit exam, or Matura.
This type of education dates way back to medieval craftsmen days and is still used as a labour based method of teaching today. Using a theoretical and practical training system, Austria’s youth are professionally trained in companies (about 80% of training takes place in the organisation), where experience is gained on the job and where careers have been tailored to the business world.
Whether you decide to send your young whippersnappers to a €20 000 a year private international school or to give them a more cultural experience in the public school system, the Austrian educated child will be accepted by foreign investors with open arms. Employers generally tend to favour the specialised skills adopted in this type of education system.