Insurmountable Obstacles in the Austrian Labour Market

in Gastbeiträge

…observed by a foreign student

Studying abroad certainly offers a broad range of advantages as well as disadvantages, this also applies to studying at Austrian universities as an international student. I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to live in Austria and study at one of its universities. Not only did this experience provide me with the chance to get to know various people, however and most importantly, it has allowed me to gain invaluable knowledge that has prepared me to enter the job market.

After graduating from university, international students are supposed to find a job in order to remain legally in Austria. According to law, graduates are granted a six-month-period, in which they need to find a job within their field of study. Within these six months, they are not allowed to leave the country. Consequently, if you do, you cannot re-enter Austria. The same law hinders you to do a part time job to finance your living expenses during your search for employment. From my standpoint, these restrictions severely contribute to a feeling of isolation.

Julie Walraven – flickr.com – CC BY 2.0

Apart from the limited time span, several other regulations that complicate the process of finding a job have been developed, which I regard as further obstacles. The first, and most crucial, issue is the required minimum salary of 2.240€ for a full time position allotted to graduated with a master’s degree. Additionally, as working experience is often mandatory for these jobs, an additional issue arises: Since international graduates who may have years of actual working experience in their homelands often find little to no acknowledgement of the value of their previous work experience, wage negotiations regularly prove to be problematic. As a result, they are often relegated to a junior position, subsequently being paid far less than the standard amount according to law. Moreover, most companies expect their newly hired employees to begin as soon as possible. Unfortunately, when it comes to foreigners, the application for the work permit issued by the Magistrat takes between one and two months, depending on your country of origin. More and more companies are becoming aware of these redundant complications, which might result in complete avoidance of recruiting foreigners.

As a person who has been affected by all these laws and regulations, I have tried to find the underlying reasons. During my studies, I had the same privileges of paying merely a small amount for my education as Austrian students. In order to repay this free service, I was planning on getting a job immediately after graduation and, thus, paying the taxes, which could compensate the educational costs. However, the aforementioned policies are making the situation more difficult for international students, and ultimately force a majority of the graduates to either find a job in other countries, or return to their countries of origin.

All in all, despite of all my struggles during these years, there hasn’t been a single day in my life when I regretted my decision to come to Austria for my studies. I have certainly gained more than what I have suffered and I sincerely hope that Austrian legislators come to understand how various regulations hinder international students from staying in Austria after their graduation. Moreover, I am hopeful of the implementation of laws that could pave the way for international students in the Austrian job market as I believe that political changes will be beneficial for both parties.

Tina Mkh

Die Gastautorin Tina Mkh studierte „Accounting and Finance“ an der FH Wiener Neustadt. Für die Gschichtldruckerei schreibt sie über ihre Mühen mit dem österreichischen Arbeitsmarkt.

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