Asee peer logo

Lessons in Manufacturing Education for the U.S. from Austria’s Dual-Track Education System

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Program and Curriculum Design Initiatives

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

24.859.1 - 24.859.20



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Victoria Ann Hill Numeritics

visit author page

Dr. Victoria Hill is a Founder and Research Scientist of Numeritics, a research and consulting firm headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. She was recently a part of a delegation of U.S. experts on Advanced Manufacturing and the STEM Talent Pipeline that traveled to Vienna, Austria as a part of the George C. Marshall Foundation’s efforts to increase cooperation between the U.S. and Austria in the area of Advanced Manufacturing. Dr. Hill has worked on STEM talent issues for many years, and recently completed a year long Fellowship through the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) at the National Science Foundation in the Division of Engineering Education and Centers. Dr. Hill received her PhD in Engineering and Public Policy from Carnegie Mellon University.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Lessons in Engineering Education for the U.S. from Austria’s Dual-Track Education SystemThe United States has a renewed emphasis on advanced manufacturing as an engine ofeconomic development. Numerous reports, conferences and initiatives have been created byentities in the public, private and non-profit sectors to give guidance on this topic. TheAdvanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) is one of the most prominent of these manyinitiatives. Among the many related issues is the need for a highly skilled engineering workforceat the sub-Bachelor’s level. Numerous studies have indicated that the U.S. has a dearth of theseworkers in the educational pipeline, and industry reports that many such jobs are going unfilled,in spite of the very high youth U.S. unemployment rates; (August 2013 unemployment rates forthose aged 20-24 was 13%; 16-19 was 22.7%)Austria has one of the world’s lowest unemployment rates, including one of the lowest youthunemployment rates (August 2013 rates for those aged 15-24 was 8.6%). While it is understoodthat many factors are involved, a significant element is the country’s dual-track educationsystem, in which students at relatively young ages; 14 or 15, can choose to enter into acombined academic and vocational training program. Austria uses a well-integrated system ofgovernment, academic and trade union partnerships to make this system work.Students learn engineering technical training skills on the job, as well as in the classroom. Theresult of this system is a well-trained workforce that continuously brings youth and innovativeideas into the workplace, and at the same time provides industry with the needed skills andtalents to ensure a well-qualified workforce.The lack of enough highly skilled young workers to enter into the advanced manufacturingsystem in the U.S. is highly problematic, and has significant impacts on the potential success ofthe afore-mentioned AMP initiative and others. Years ago, U.S. high schools played a role invocational education, but this system has been largely dismantled in favor of a mostly college-bound academic track. Community colleges in the U.S. have taken up the mantle with somesuccess, but the integration of industry and academia remains problematic with serious skillsgaps. In addition, in contrast to Austria’s positive relationships between trade unions, industryand the public sector, in the U.S. these same relationships have been largely antagonistic formany years.What can we learn from Austria that could aid the U.S. in its efforts to revitalize our advancedmanufacturing sector? Discussion in the paper will focus on the following: • The resurgence of advanced manufacturing in the U.S. and the resultant need for a highly skilled engineering education workforce at the sub-Bachelor’s level • The state of engineering education in the U.S. at the sub-Bachelor’s level • The state of engineering education Austria at the sub-Bachelor’s level • Pilot programs in the U.S by Austrian companies to try to create the needed skilled workforce for their U.S. manufacturing facilities • New and unique programs that focus on the recent entrance of U.S. trade unions into the advanced manufacturing innovation ecosystem • Lessons learned from Austria with recommendations for further study and action

Hill, V. A. (2014, June), Lessons in Manufacturing Education for the U.S. from Austria’s Dual-Track Education System Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20750

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015