Recognition of qualifications
Because of the fundamental free movement of professionals, specialised employees are principally allowed to work internationally, exercise their profession and offer their services. However, special qualifications or a title are required for so-called “regulated professions”. Requirements can differ from one country to the next. For this reason, mechanisms used in recognising qualifications acquired abroad are applied.
What are regulated professions?
In order to be able to exercise a regulated profession as a self-employed person specified qualifications or a title must be possessed. The list of professions which are regulated and the specific requirements involving in exercising these professions vary within the EU. Qualified specialised employees who want to apply for positions in other EU member states must first inform themselves about which prerequisites have to be fulfilled.
Directive 2005/36/EC provides the legal basis for the recognition of professional qualifications. These guidelines apply to regulated professions such as nurses, midwives, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, architects and veterinarians. This directive does not apply to professions in which the recognition of qualifications is regulated by separate legal provisions, such as lawyers, seafarers, insurance brokers and air traffic controllers and others.
Every EU member state put together a list of its particular regulated professions in order to provide an overview of the regulated professions in the EU and conditions for gaining access to this profession. Subsequently a mutual evaluation of the prerequisites for gaining access to these professions was carried out.
The underlying objective was to simplify and improve access to information about regulated professions and oblige the EU member states to review their own demands on people for exercising these designated regulated professions.
Moreover, a database with the updated list of regulated professions was compiled. It also provides information about the prerequisites for practising professions in the individual EU member states and EEA countries and Switzerland: Regulated professions database Furthermore, an interactive map shows the distribution of regulated professions in the individual countries according to specific sectors.
The European Professional Card (EPC)
For the time being, the European Professional Card (EPC) is valid for a total of five professions, namely for nurses, physiotherapists, pharmacists, real estate brokers and mountain guides. The EPC is an electronic certificate which is issued via an EU-wide online process for the recognition of qualifications. The EPC could be expanded in the future to encompass other professions as well.
Contact points for persons with foreign qualifications (AST)
It is important to inform the competent authorities in Austria to make sure that the qualifications or diplomas acquired elsewhere (EU, EEA or third countries) are recognised as the basis for working in that particular profession. In this way, measures can be taken in a timely manner to ensure the validation of qualifications, if necessary. There are four contact points in Austria which are responsible for the recognition and assessment of qualifications acquired in other countries. They are located in Vienna, Linz, Graz and Innsbruck. Moreover, weekly consultation days take place in all other Austrian state capitals.
- AST Vienna, AST Lower Austria and Northern Burgenland and the coordination of contact points under the auspices of the Counselling Centre for Immigrants in Vienna
- AST Upper Austria and Salzburg at migrare – Centre for Immigrants in Upper Austria, which is located in Linz
- AST Styria, Carinthia and Southern Burgenland at ZEBRA – Intercultural Centre of Counselling and Therapy, located in Graz and
- AST Tyrol and Vorarlberg at ZeMiT – Centre for Migrants in Tyrol, located in Innsbruck
In line with § 5 Recognition and Assessment Act (AuBG), multilingual information, counselling and support are offered for the entire recognition and assessment process free of charge.
These services are provided with the aim of facilitating the integration of skilled professionals into the labour market in accordance with their qualifications. The first step is to clarify whether the formal recognition of qualifications is necessary or possible. If needed, certified translations of diplomas and certificates will be obtained. Support is offered in applying for assessments and if required, also for the recognition process. Furthermore, information is supplied on follow-up counselling options and further education offerings. If the formal recognition of qualifications acquired abroad is not possible, the responsible AST counsellor will present alternatives and potentially establish contact with cooperation partners.
The cost-free services of the AST offices are available to people residing in Austria who have acquired qualifications abroad and who have done more than compulsory schooling. The counselling services target people who, in principle, have access to the Austrian labour market. However, these services are offered regardless of the person’s employment status (unemployed or employed), citizenship or national origin.
The underlying objective is to promote the potential of qualified people from abroad and thus secure valuable specialised employees for the Austrian labour market.