IT social partners agree further training certificate

A new collective agreement concluded for Austria's information technology (IT) industry in December 2004 introduced a ground-breaking further training certification scheme. This initiative aims to improve IT workers’ employability and the companies' competitiveness.

In the course of the 2004 autumn bargaining round, on 3 December 2004 the sectoral social partners (AT0012235N) concluded a new framework collective agreement for the information technology (IT) industry, which is the first such agreement in Austria to include provisions on a so-called further training certificate (Bildungszertifizierung) scheme. The certificate is designed to guarantee certain further training standards for most IT employees in Austria on a comparable basis. Accordingly, paragraph 23 of the new collective agreement recommends that all IT companies with a certain number of employees comply with the requirements of this certificate. 'The further training certificate is valid for the whole country’s territory. Its purpose is to record and promote both the businesses’ and the employees’ readiness to play an active role in the process of lifelong learning,' stated Karl Proyer, chief negotiator for the white-collar Union of Salaried Employees (Gewerkschaft der Privatangestellten, GPA), at a press conference in mid-January 2005. In the long run, this measure is devised both to improve the labour market chances of IT workers and to enhance the competitiveness of Austrian IT firms, due to generally better qualified employees.

The certification of companies will be carried out by an independent institute specialising in management consultancy and company certification on behalf of both sides of industry. The certificate’s validity will automatically expire three years after its award. During this three-year period, each company awarded a certificate may be inspected at short notice. After this period, a follow-up certificate may be awarded. A company’s eligibility for certification is contingent on its further training regulations, either unilaterally implemented or agreed with the works council. It has to provide fair and equal training opportunities for all its employees without discrimination in terms of gender and age, in particular with respect to the funding of further training courses (including repayment obligations for training costs).

The new IT collective agreement came into effect on 1 January 2005.

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