Tag Archives: education

World Champions

5 Nov

Having already pointed this out in four different years, I didn’t want to mention again that Austria once again did extremely well at the WorldSkills championships, where young people compete in the trades. (You can imagine that young Austrians do especially well in trades related to tourism and gastronomy.)

This year, though, something really special happened: the Gold medalist in stone-cutting was Austrian — and female. The Kurier this morning had an interview with Anna Karina Feldbauer (only 21 years old) about how this came about. Like most people who excel at something, she was simple fascinated by the idea of making things — even gravestones, a large part of stonecutters’ work — out of stone.

In a time when ever more businesses are seeking the next generation of skilled craftspeople yet ever more young people are going to university so that they have access to more prestigious jobs (and not necessarily because they’re really interested in, say, business administration), it strikes me that Anna Karina Feldbauer can be a really good role model.


They’re at it again

2 Oct

Once again Austrian contestants have done a stellar job at the European championships — the trade / apprenticeship championships, that is, where they demonstrated their skills, for example, in wall painting and hotel reception. Austria, with its 8.8 million inhabitants got 33 medals, top of all EU countries and behind only Russia. There’s an article in the Kurier today about why Austria always does so well. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read it right now as I am off to teach the next generation in logistics.

At it again

7 Oct

Austria cleaned up at the EuroSkills competition (for people learning trades and crafts) for the fourth time in a row with a total of 21 medals. Russia (a rather larger country than Austria, if I may point that out) came in second with a total of 19. The Russians did have more gold medals (nine to Austria’s four), but still. I’m so glad there are still countries that promote and reward the trades!

The University of Vienna

7 Apr

Just last week I found myself wondering how long it had been since the former General Hospital and its grounds had been turned into part of the University. Then yesterday as I walked past I saw this sign:

I must investigate.


The trades

18 Mar

I have reported in the past on how well Austria does in international competitions of apprentices. Today in the Kurier is an article about how the chosen representatives are already intensively (and, according to the vice-president of the Chamber of Commerce, “conscientiously”) preparing for the WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi in October. As usual the competitors are honing their professional skills as well as preparing mentally. This year, in addition, they are working with top sports trainers to improve their performances. Austria takes this seriously. It seems to be almost as much a part of the national identity as the dominance in skiing. And long may it last. I think it’s great that people who make a point of doing their jobs spectacularly well have the chance to gain national and international recognition, not on the basis of how much they earn but on the basis of what they physically produce.

EuroSkills 2014

12 Oct

The EuroSkills competition, like the Olympics but for professional skills, took place about a week ago. True to form, Austria did extremely well. The “Best of Europe” title (rather like “Best of Show” ;-)) went to Oliver Anibas, an Austrian competing in the area of Industrial Control. An additional 18 medals (8 golds out of 41 disciplines) went to other Austrian competitors, among them a tile layer, a florist, a decorative stone cutter, and (not surprisingly, given Austria’s reliance on the tourism industry) a hotel receptionist.

The Kurier put the success down to Austria’s excellent system of apprenticeships and vocational education. (More about that in my earlier post: https://ecbinvienna.com/2011/11/07/we-are-the-champions/ ) They followed that comment up with a reprimand to Austrian companies who complain loudly about the lack of qualified young employees!

For more information about the EuroSkills competition: http://www.euroskills2014.org/index.php?lang=en

Best Hackers in the World

30 Mar

About a year ago I wrote about how well Austria did in the apprentice competition in London. Today I was reading the Saturday “Kurier” at the breakfast table, as I do almost every Saturday I don’t have to work, and came across another field in which Austria is top: computer hacking! Apparently, there is an annual competition for hackers, the iCTF (international Capture The Flag) competition. In 2011 students from Vienna’s technical university came in first. This year they only ; -) came in second. A team from the U.S. won. By the way, the article was quick to point out that “hacker” is not the same as “cyber-criminal”.

A hacker’s task is to find the weak spots in computer systems. They can use this (super) power for good or evil! šŸ˜‰

“We are the champions”

7 Nov

This was the title last Friday of an article in the free city newspaper Heute (Today). The subject of the article? The recent WorldSkills fair in London (http://www.worldskillslondon2011.com/), where people between the ages of 17 and 25 compete to see who is best at his or her job. Austrians won three Gold, one Silver, and two Bronze medals. One of Gold medals went to a fine pastries chef, Stefan Lubinger, so you may think that Austria simply used its natural advantages to good effect. šŸ˜‰Ā In fact, what probably helped this small country (only 8 million inhabitants) to do so well is the ongoing belief and investment in vocational education (I’m consciously not using the word “training” because it is, in fact, an education).

The apprenticeship system–where studentsĀ spend a certain part of every school week in the classroom learningĀ the theoretical part of their trade and what they need to one day run their own small business andĀ the rest of the time practicing in a work environment under masters–is alive and still relatively well in Austria and serves a real purpose. It makes sure that pupils who do not want to go on with academic subjects have a viable alternative in the educational system and also that the population has a pool of extremely well-qualified stone masons, plumbers, electricians, waiters, chimney sweeps, office admin staff, pastry chefs, and so on.Ā  Truly seems like a win-win situation to me!