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POSTPONED: Perspectives on solving technical skills shortages

  • Date(s)
    22 September 2015
  • Location
    Westminster (tbc)
POSTPONED: Perspectives on solving technical skills shortages


Reforming technical education and training to meet employers' skills shortages is a key part of the government’s strategy to tackle the UK’s 'productivity puzzle'. This has included major reforms in recent years to standards, qualifications and funding systems for apprenticeships and vocational training, as well as broader school reforms.

As the chancellor’s recent announcement of a new Austrian-style apprenticeship levy on firms demonstrates, there is much that can be learned from policy successes and failures in other EU countries – not withstanding national differences in education and labour market institutions.

Austria’s distinct system of education and training has been widely praised, in part due to the country’s comparatively low levels of youth unemployment. Despite having similar levels of unemployment to the UK, the UK’s rate of youth unemployment is 70 per cent higher. In the Austrian system around three quarters of students opt for a vocational education and training path for their upper secondary education compared to just over a third in the UK. Austria also focuses apprenticeships on young people, delivering almost three times the comparable level of youth apprenticeships than the UK.

At this roundtable discussion in partnership with 21st Austria, the state secretary of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Science, Research and Economy, Harald Mahrer, will share his perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of the Austrian approach to technical skills. A panel of leading experts will then debate how the UK and other European economies should address technical skills shortages, boost productivity and tackle youth unemployment.

Keynote speaker:

Harald Mahrer, state secretary, Austrian Federal Ministry for Science, Research and Economy


Michael Davis, chief executive, UK Commission for Employment & Skills
Lorna Unwin, professor of vocational education, Institute of Education
Anthony Young, Labour peer, shadow spokesperson for business, innovation and skills and former minister for skills and apprenticeships

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