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Continuing education survey 2017 (Austria)

Continuing education survey 2017: Businesses are investing in continuing education and preparing themselves for digitisation

  • Security is the most important aspect of digitisation
  • 90% see a huge need for education in terms of digital skills

The ninth ‘Continuing Education Day’ was held on 7 June, 2017 in Austria. The event was organised by the Platform for Work-Related Adult Education (Plattform für berufsbezogene Erwachsenenbildung or PbEB), of which WIFI Austria is one of eight members. As is the case each year, the results of the continuing education survey were presented. Managers and HR officers from 500 companies with 20 employees or more took part in the survey, carried out by MAKAM Research. The results were as follows: 9% of companies considered themselves ‘very well’ prepared for the requirements of digitisation, another 42% considered themselves ‘well’ prepared. 43% said they were ‘satisfactorily’ prepared for the future challenges while 4% of companies indicated that they were only ‘sufficiently’ prepared, and another 1% classified themselves as ‘insufficiently’ prepared for what is to come in terms of digitisation.

Managers and HR officers were also asked which aspects they considered to be the most important in terms of digitisation. IT and data security had great significance here, with 84% of respondents indicating they considered it very important, and another 13% saying it was important. Trailing some way behind were economic and business aspects, such as the ability to play a role in considering digitisation in new business models.

Ninety percent want more continuing education in terms of digital skills

Ninety percent of respondents saw a huge need for continuing education in terms of ‘digital skills’. According to the survey, employees should primarily focus on improving digital skills in IT security and data security in particular – 60% saw a major need for continuing education here. Further important factors include the business aspects of digitisation (43%, e.g. the development of new business models), technological aspects (39%, e.g. automation technology), social skills (36%, e.g. collaborative work) and communicative/creative aspects (34%, e.g. web design). Seventy-five percent of companies had already implemented educational measures in terms of digitisation, and once again, these mainly concerned security. Fifty percent of the managers and HR officers asked were planning further educational measures to improve the digital competencies of employees.

High ambivalence among companies when it comes to digitisation

Responding to the question of whether increasing digitisation is having a positive or a negative impact on the company, the respondents proved optimistic: of those asked, 65% and 61% respectively said that digitisation will primarily have a positive impact on the efficiency and competency of the company. Fifty-eight percent believed that the quality of work is improving as a result of digitisation, and 57% stated that data security is improving due to digitisation. “In general, ambivalence among companies is very high. Many managers indicate that digitisation has both positive and negative effects in various fields. This means that companies are still finding their way. Continuing education, therefore, will make a clear contribution to the topic in terms of digitisation”, explains PbEB spokesperson, Christian Bayer.

Eighteen percent of companies willing to spend more on continuing education in 2017

Eighteen percent of companies will invest more in continuing education this year. In contrast, however, just 5% of companies are planning to spend less on continuing education over the year to come than they did in previous years. The continuing education budgets in the majority of companies remain more or less the same across the board this year: sixty-nine percent have the same continuing education budget as they did the previous year. Alice Fleischer, representative of WIFI Austria in the PbEB, said: “It is hugely important, particularly in these times of digitisation, to invest in the strategic continuing education of employees going forward. This is why it is fantastic to learn that Austrian companies also see it this way”.

Most important continuing education measure: sales/marketing

Similarly to previous years, companies were once again asked to specify how significant individual continuing education measures are for them. As seen in the previous year, companies anticipate the greatest competitive edge in marketing and sales training, followed by personality development and continuing education in the areas of technology and production, along with IT and ICT applications.

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