L2P-2020PLUS: Job-oriented training for cross-border Austrian and Slovenian youth

The job prospects of young people living in the Slovenia-Austria border region have been improved through a secondary-level qualification programme which was designed to meet the area’s labour needs.

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The L2P-2020 project team. The photo was taken at the presentation of the survey ‘youth on the cross border market’. ©Stadtgemeinde Bad Radkersburg/WOCHE 2017 The L2P-2020 project team. The photo was taken at the presentation of the survey ‘youth on the cross border market’. ©Stadtgemeinde Bad Radkersburg/WOCHE 2017

" Additional training embedded in formal education at secondary school level, which is customised for our regional needs, is an innovative approach to enhance the chances of the youth in the cross-border job market. "

Daniela Leopold-Sommer, Project manager

The regions of Oststeiermark and Pomurje, on the border of Slovenia and Austria, have ageing populations because of young people migrating to urban areas and foreign countries. These areas are mainly agricultural with wellness centres and thermal spas. The tourism industry is an important source of income for the region, but it is not attracting and retaining young people entering the job market.  

The project created new career prospects for school-leavers by offering additional training at the secondary level –  something which was lacking in the area. A study was completed to identify the educational challenges in the region. Based on the findings, training programmes were developed with the help of local businesses. They then offered pupils internships. It is hoped the programme will encourage the youth to see the regions as a place they can stay and live in. 

Job market study

Because of a need to understand the labour market situation for young people, the project developed a study called ‘Youth on the cross-border job market’. It identified challenges which an interregional educational system offered on both sides of the border could help solve. 

Data for the study was gathered in three ways. An online survey in German, Slovenian and English was distributed to companies in the areas. Interviews were conducted with pupils at schools and with companies, and focus groups were held.

The results of this research led to the development of additional training classes for students at the secondary academic school Bundes-Oberstufenrealgymnasium Bad Radkersburg, in Austria. Called Matura +, the curriculum is available in German, Slovenian and English and teaches entrepreneurship, business, social and digital skills.

Cross-border training

A European-wide search was done to find a company who could train teachers to teach the developed curriculum. A team of eight teachers from the Gimnazija Murska Sobota school in Slovenia attended training in Austria for one year to gain knowledge of the different topics. They were given online and offline tools to motivate learning. The teachers were offered three different levels to gain a training module. They developed a customised approach to offer the training to pupils at their own school, and in Slovenian.

Pupils were offered four hours of additional training for every school level. To complete their training, they had to do an internship at a company in their area. This was beneficial for the companies involved as they could counteract a shortage of skilled workers through the participation of pupils, which could lead to a job for them. By April 2019, 20 students had successfully completed their internships at different local businesses.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “L2P-2020Plus. Learn to Perform in work life 2020+” is EUR 786 281, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 668 338 through the “Interreg V-A Slovenia-Austria” Operational Programme for the 2014-2020 programming period. The investment falls under the priority “Jobs, growth and investment”.