Local Employment and Economic Development (LEED Programme)

Study visit: Partnership strategies for demographic change and ageing (Province of Carinthia, Austria)


Study visit for local development practitioners


10 - 12 October 2012

Province of Carinthia, Austria


The issue / Study focus / The study visit / Contact and information


The issue

Demographic change and the resulting ageing of our societies continue to increasingly endanger regional growth and development perspectives. In spite of high unemployment rates in many countries, more and more regions have already started to suffer from negative demographic development, with sometimes dramatic forecasts for the years to come (e.g. in Central Europe). This will limit companies’ ability to fully exploit business opportunities and to attract new investments. Aside from (unpopular) legal adjustments such as raising the retirement age or increasing incentives for migration, a solution will depend on the establishment of comprehensive, age-sensitive, work arrangement packages; long-term, skill up-grading strategies; and the will of companies, social partners and regional authorities to enact a common strategy.

Recognising this situation, regions have started designing specific programmes based on the strength of the partnership model. This involves supporting enterprises in their need to find skilled personnel and helping individuals to up-grade their skills through forward-thinking strategies which successfully fill job vacancies, invest in health protection and do so through collaboration between authorities, social partners, social insurance institutions, training institutions, and enterprises.


Local partnerships for demographic change and ageing

The OECD LEED Programme is conducting a project on Local Scenarios of Demographic Change which aims to provide strategic guidelines for governments and organisations involved in the implementation of employment and skills development programmes at the local level, on how to better confront demographic change. The project seeks to outline future local development scenarios to facilitate the adoption of appropriate guidelines. The project explores the following areas: sustainable local development models and shrinkage scenarios; employment and skills development in new areas of growth; services to the elderly and social inclusion; developing the silver economy and entrepreneurs; and fertility rate policies and implications for the labour market (see recently released report: Demographic Change and Local Development: Shrinkage, Regeneration and Social Dynamics). 


Study focus: Province of Carinthia, Austria

The OECD LEED Forum on Partnerships and Local Governance within the framework of the OECD LEED project on Local Scenarios of Demographic Change conducted a study visit to the Province of Carinthia, Austria. Although the overall situation of elderly people in the labour market is better than in most OECD countries (see data below), population forecasts indicate that the share of older people will increase dramatically, with Carinthia being more affected than the rest of the country. Early retirement remains high, putting pressure on the state pension system. Demographic change is creating an aging workforce, forcing companies to change their recruitment, employment and training policies.

Unemployment in Carinthia and Austria: main indicators

Year 2011




205 909

3 421 748

Unemployed (registered)

20 136

246 702

Unemployed (%)



Unemployed (>50)

4 627

53 887

Population 2011

558 000

8 420 000

   of which 60+

142 000

1 966 000

Population 2030

558 000

8 993 000

   of which 60+

199 000

2 810 000

Source: Source: AMS Kärnten, Annual report 2011, Statistik Austria.

While unemployment in Carinthia and Austria came down by 2.1% and 3.1%, respectively, for people <45 from 2010 to 2011, it increased for the older age group: + 2.3 (+1.3). This underlines the persistent problem of the older workforce in Austria, and even more pronounced, in Carinthia. Average retirement age is stable at 59.1 years for men and 57.1 for women, levels which date back to the 80s, considerably lower than in the 70s. This is to a great extent, due to early retirement caused by invalidity or permanent inability to work, with average entrance age at 53.5 for men and 50.1 for women (Statistik Austria, data for Austria).

There is a clear understanding however, that an increase in the employment of older workers will require governmental support in terms of qualification and up-skilling, health care measures, and  provision of work opportunities for those who cannot easily find employment.

Territorial Employment Pacts (TEPs) provide an important contribution to Austrian employment policy by offering a framework for continuous collaboration between the main regional actors and institutions responsible for employment, social integration, education, and economic development. While there is a frame concept for TEPs and their basic funding within the European Social Fund programmes of Austria, one of their core strengths lies within their high degree of flexibility. Based on an analysis of the positive and negative characteristics and the prospects ahead, they are formulating their own regional strategies and priorities, leading to a wide variety of features.

A common project of all Austrian partnerships was the EU co-funded initiative TEP EQUAL elderly, addressing older workers’ unemployment through various initiatives. Carinthia has expanded this experience and created a permanent working committee on “work & age”, with partnership members contributing to the design, delivery (and funding) of different measures. The structure, work and results of this working committee were one starting point of the study visit.

The other was an overview of the manifold policies in Austria dealing with improving employment of older workers, which goes hand in hand with the country’s intention to reduce early retirement and cope with demographic change.


The study visit

Issues that were covered during the study visit:

  • The structure and political targets of the Territorial Employment Pact;
  • The working committee on ‘work & age’;
  • Labour market policy for older workers in Austria and, more specifically, in Carinthia;
  • Employment and qualification projects, including socio-economic enterprises;
  • Qualification for employed;
  • Health care initiatives securing employment;
  • Demographic situation of Carinthia along with programs and initiatives by local institutions.

The programme was organised around project visits and meetings with representatives from the province, local council, the AMS (employment office), social partners, project promoters and participants.



Policy makers and practitioners directly involved in the design, implementation and evaluation of regional/local employment and economic development strategies as well as strategies to address demographic change and population ageing. Participants should also be able to act as peers in the framework of the study tour, and to provide feedback on the policies and projects presented.

Cost of Participation

No participation fees were required. Participants covered their own travel and accommodation.

Working language



Contact and information

Please contact Michael Förschner or Bettina Schatz at the Vienna-based Centre for Social Innovation (tel 0043/49 50 442 75).