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  • Writer's pictureSusanne Klimmer, IFA

AUSTRIA: Open Borders – Open Minds: Apprentice Mobility at the Rail Cargo Group

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Open Borders - Open Minds! According to this motto, the Rail Cargo Group sends freight forwarding apprentices during their training period abroad. Apprentices from their second year of training can spend between 3 and 12 weeks of their apprenticeship training at one of the international company locations in Europe. They come back with new perspectives, work and life experiences and language skills, as well as a healthy dose of enthusiasm!


The Rail Cargo Group is the Rail Logistics Department of the Austrian Federal Railways, operating in Austria and 18 other countries throughout Europe with 9,300 employees, a rolling stock of over 21,000 wagons and its headquarters in Vienna, which serve as the heart of its network.

The Rail Cargo Group has been sending its apprentices abroad on a regular basis since 2013. The project started in 2013 with 2 apprentices in Germany. Due to the demand and the great success, the project has meanwhile been expanded to 5 countries (Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Italy and Croatia), and others are planned. A total of around 50 apprentices have completed an internship abroad since the start of the project.

In 2017, the Rail Cargo Group received the EQAMOB Award, the European quality label “Excellent company for learning in Europe”, which in Austria is awarded by the responsible Minister for Economic Affairs. Representatives of the Rail Cargo Group were invited to present the successful project in Brussels at the “European Vocational Skills Week 2017”. Further national and international invitations followed.

The responsible trainers and decision makers at the Rail Cargo Group see the participation in international mobility programmes for apprentices as a perfect opportunity to find and develop young talents in an open European Marketplace.

The project was awarded and presented as a best practice example on several occasions. The company is proud of its success and spreads the word. They want everybody to know about the project and people to talk about it.

Responsible organisation:

IFA - Internationaler Fachkräfteaustausch

(International Young Workers Exchange)

What problem or issue has the innovative practice aimed to tackle?

One of the biggest challenges in Austria is the lack of skilled workers in combination with the lack of young people willing to start their professional life with apprenticeship training. During apprenticeship training, companies train their future skilled workers according to national training plans and according to their company-specific needs.

To make apprenticeship training appealing and find suitable apprentices, companies need to offer an attractive training on the one hand and train the apprentices in those areas that are particularly important for the company on the other hand. In the case of the Rail Cargo Group one of these areas is collecting international experiences and learning to communicate in other languages and with people from other cultures in order to be able to handle international orders professionally.

Foto(c): Rail Cargo Group

What have been the achievements?

Essential success factors:

  • Active involvement of all responsible persons abroad as well as the commitment of the board (bottom-up + top-down go hand in hand! The goal is the same);

  • Sending of 2 apprentices to a common location at the same time;

  • Constant contact and communication between all involved parties and people;

  • Visiting the hosting companies in order to develop the programme together: The hosting companies take on an important role in the programme design and can thus show more of themselves, which benefits both the apprentices and the sending company.

  • Co-operation with an organization such as IFA, which supports the implementation of the sending of apprentices within the framework of the ERASMUS+ programme;

  • Feedback group sessions and presentations to show success;

  • The apprentices receive a Certificate of International Competences. The value? Apprentices have a sense of achievement as the certificate is a part of their personal development programme. The company then has a ready-made internal talent pool for the internal job market.

The main benefits from the perspective of the Rail Cargo Group are:

  • It supports the international strategy, which makes the employer brand much more attractive!

  • It helps develop English as a common intercompany cross-border language, where English isn’t the first language!

  • The quality of the program is highly cost effective, which is very important in a modern business world!

Who was involved and how?

HR-Departments in sending and all hosting companies;

Management Boards;

Trainers of apprentices;

All involved departments;


Download the fact sheet with contact information here (pdf):

Download PDF • 378KB

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