Recent developments in Austria
At the moment the educational sphere is focusing mostly on digitalisation. The Pact for Digital Competence, created using the Digital Competence Framework, is aiming to involve many different actors in developing a wider Austrian strategy on adult education. The pact considers structure implementation, qualifications and validation, certification of grades and competence levels, creating relationships between adult education institutions and private enterprise, and the ongoing updating and evaluating digital competences.
Opening dialogue on adult education in Austria, the first BarCamp for adult education took place at the Federal Institute in December 2018, where such questions as digitalisation and its effects on adult education structures, open educational resources (OER), and the promotion of opportunities for disadvantaged people were discussed.
Several initiatives were launched in the past year in the field of non-formal adult education. In March 2019, the Democracy MOOC, consisting of ten modules, was launched. It aims to increase the accessibility of available civic education for Austrian citizens. The course is run by EAEA member, the Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres, in partnership with the Democracy Centre Vienna, using funds from several governmental bodies. Annual Conference 2019 of the Austrian Conference of Adult Education also considered education for democratic citizenship. In addition to this, a new curriculum was put together, concerning basic education for adults, which intends to create wider access to the labour market and German integration courses.
However, the past year has brought some new challenges to the Austrian adult education sector too. The Labour Market Service has changed its political priorities, greatly reducing the number of available training courses, instead focusing on counselling and coaching. Due to this, a high number of trainers were dismissed.
In terms of financing adult education, the amount of funding allocated by the Ministry of Education has not changed since 2012, which runs the risk of losses in the scale or quality of provision due to rising personnel costs. There needs to be stronger empirical evidence for increasing their funding, based on better reporting systems of the impact of the non-formal education sector.