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

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Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Program and Curriculum Design Initiatives

Tagged Division

Manufacturing

Page Count

20

Page Numbers

24.859.1 - 24.859.20

DOI

10.18260/1-2--20750

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/20750

Download Count

261

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Paper Authors

biography

Victoria Ann Hill Numeritics

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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.

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Abstract

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

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