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Developments: Ambitious new program for adult education

In Austria two of the members have responded to this year’s survey: The Association of Austrian Adult Education Centers (VöV) is the coordination center for the federal and regional associations with over 270 adult education centers, while ARG Bildungshäuser (ARGE) is a network of 20 educational centres.

In autumn 2019 a new government program was published that includes numerous projects designed to strengthen lifelong learning in the education system and supports the more vulnerable parts of the population. This came into play after the Austrian Parliament revoked some measures of the previous right-wing conservative government and reintroduced measures for older unemployed people. The program will revise the legal foundations, adjust the strategic orientation of adult education and improve its management. Another major pillar of the program is the validation strategy, which recognises adult education as an integral part of the Austrian Lifelong Learning Strategy. The program will also include a voucher system and financing tools for continuing education. The vouchers are targeted at women returning to work and the long- term unemployed and seek to foster entrepreneurship skills and financial literacy. Civil society organisations acknowledge that the program is a positive development to strengthen Austrian democracy.

Alongside the ambitious program, there are some new projects for the implementation of the Upskilling Pathways strategy. Regarding the Sustainable Development Goals, Austria has a range of initiatives that push for sustainable development across civil society. The European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR) has been implemented in some areas, but VÖV has not been consulted in the process. ARGE, however, was involved in a civil society consultation. Both organisations believe that the Pillar is an important policy for Austria.