Completing apprenticeship training is just the beginning. The Austrian apprenticeship system provides wide-ranging opportunities for further vocational development. The introduction of the Berufsreifeprüfung in 1997 has led to an increased permeability of the education system. While the Berufsreifeprüfung does not lead to the acquisition of any professional qualifications, it does provide a general higher education entrance qualification to graduates of the dual system (apprenticeship leave examination). For admission to the Berufsreifeprüfung exams, school attendance is not required.
Continuous VET Programmes
Apprenticeship graduates have a wide range of opportunities to upgrade and broaden their skills. One of the most important qualifications they can obtain is the master craftsperson qualification. Although the only formal requirement for sitting the master craftsperson examination is to be of age (i.e. 18 years), most of the candidates have acquired an apprenticeship qualification before. Similarly, the industrial master college (Werkmeisterschule), or the construction craftsperson college (Bauhandwerkerschule) offer continuous VET programmes for apprenticeship graduates. In addition, there are many specialist courses and programmes that are targeted at skilled workers.
In the field of Continuous Vocational Education and Training (CVET), there are no explicitly defined legal or educational functions. BMBWF bears the responsibility for CVET in the school sector and in higher education institutions. CVET providers in non-academic and non-higher educational CVET institutions are largely autonomous within the framework of legal specifications and are mainly subject to the market conditions of supply and demand.
Apprenticeship graduates can also continue learning at a university after taking the Berufsreifeprüfung (BRP). This exam provides access to all higher education study programmes. The content of the exam is oriented towards the curriculum of an upper secondary school that provides university entrance qualifications and comprises four partial exams: German, mathematics, one modern language, and a specialisation from vocational practice or from IVET. For the individual exams, preparatory courses are offered in continuing training institutions for a fee. For admission to the Berufsreifeprüfung exams, school attendance is not required.
For apprentices who prepare for the BRP while enrolled in their training course or who have already completed a partial exam during their apprenticeship (Berufsmatura), costs for preparatory courses, exam materials and the exam itself are borne by the state.