Education and professional expertise provide a sound basis for the knowledge-based economy. Having qualified staff is key to a company’s ability to develop and implement innovations and thus to enhance its competitiveness. The quality of human resources defines the quality of research performed and is the prerequisite for the development of new knowledge and new technologies.
Challenges in Education and Innovation
Studies indicate that Austria’s education system requires improvement. The transfer of education into the innovation system only works to a limited extent. Further development of the innovation system is particularly hampered by low interest in engineering and science subjects, a limited number of women in research, the brain drain abroad and a general lack of public awareness about research and development (R&D). A lack of scientific career options and the limited mobility between academic research and industry are also a problem.
The Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology and the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy are seeking to counteract this with a comprehensive range of funding programmes and services which are managed by the FFG.
Research Staff in Austria
There is a growing need in Austria for highly qualified research and development staff. The number of people working in this sector more than doubled in the period from 1993 to 2007 – from some 24,500 full time equivalents (FTEs) to over 53,000. In the year 2013 over 66.186 full time equivalents worked in R&D in Austria. Around 70% of these worked in the industrial sector and 25% in the academic sector.
Women in Research
Throughout the university sector and in the field of non-university research the proportion of women decreases significantly after the postdoctoral stage. The industrial research sector in Austria has a very low proportion of women in Europe.
According to Statistic Austria (2013) women comprise 23 per cent of scientific staff in the whole research and development sector (in 1998 it was only 14 %). In the university sector, women account for 34 % and in the industry sector for 15 % of R&D staff.
Yet women are clearly catching up – female scientific staff in the R&D sector increased by 148 % from 1998 to 2007 and 222% 1998 to 2011, while the growth rate for men was “only” 56 % (from 1998 to 2007) and 78% (1998 to 2011). It must be noted, however, that female scientists very often hold part-time positions.
(Sources: Federal Government Research Strategy; Employees in Research. IFES Contributions to Economic Policy No. 31; FEMtech; Statistics Austria)