Innovative Best Practices




CATEGORY Labor market integration, trainings qualifications apprenticeships


WerkSTART is an accessible, gender-sensitive project for educationally disadvantaged women (migrants, asylum seekers, women granted asylum and Austrian citizens). The project includes basic education, German language courses, mathematics, computer-and learning-skills as well as manual work. This project helps develop innovative basic-education-models with the aim to qualify educationally disadvantaged women for the Austrian education and job markets. Women with a migration experience are more likely to experience educational disadvantages in Austria. This makes access to the labor market especially difficult. WerkSTART was created to counteract the structural disadvantages and aims at strengthening educationally disadvantaged women’s participation in society. 

We reach our target group through our own educational consultancy service, long-term cooperation-partners, multipliers in the target-communities itself and a cooperation-agreement with the Austrian Public Employment Service (AMS). 

Scientific research has shown that the practical application of theoretical teaching contents supports the creation of new neural connections in the brain and helps to memorize newly learned content. Therefore, the teaching concept of WerkSTART is an interconnection of theoretical course contents (basic education, German language courses, mathematics, learning- and computer-skills) with practical work (with materials like wood, plastics, metal, textiles). These practice-lessons are more than just a natural way of learning vocabulary for every-day life. The manual work also highlights this group’s informally acquired expertise and skills, which strengthen their self-confidence. In addition, during the six or nine months of their participation in WerkSTART, the participants are able to (re)discover their own skills and talents. The diversity of activities in this project help widen the participants` prospects concerning their own learning and professional paths. 


WerkSTART is run by the Educational Center of Caritas Vienna (Caritas Bildungszentrum, CarBiz) and financed by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research and the European Social Fund. The project was implemented as of 1 January 2019 and will run until 30 September 2021. During the 2,5-years-term of this development-project, there are five classes in total planned with 12 women each (now just 8, due to Covid19). Running alongside is one literacy class for women with literacy needs, and one for women with more advanced German skills. Depending on their German level, the classes last from 6 to 9 months. 

In the framework of this project, two teachers for German as a foreign language and basic education as well as a social counsellor who supports the participants in social and professional matters are employed. The counsellor helps the participants to find suitable follow-up projects or accompanies their career entry. 

The theoretically provided knowledge strongly connects with the practical work. The participants work about one day per week in a little factory at the CarBiz, and sometimes with external professional guidance. Sewing, cooking, drawing, making pottery or construction are components of the practical course contents. In class, there is a preparation and follow-up of the manual work. Two examples for practical projects and the interconnection with theory: 

a) Constructing a raised bed for plants theoretical knowledge: math: measuring, calculating German: new terminology: tools, instruments 

b) Cooking meals for the employees theoretical knowledge: math: basic calculating operations German: detail comprehension (listening text of a recipe) new terminology: food, cooking, computer-skills: designing a menu.