Next Generation´s Mobility

Mentee program


In order to help improve the public understanding of economics the Austrian Economics Center started a program to educate students (11 to 19 years).
AEC created a student´s competition to get in touch and to rise the young people´s attention to economics. A festive awarding ceremony is held to stress the importance of the young generations contributions and to make the students aware of their responsibility for their own future.


winners of the special prize of the jury

The winners are invited to take part at AEC´s mentee program which is organized individually to meet the needs. Overall it includes literature packeges, workshops, special trainings and lessons as well as internships at the AEC, the Hayek Institute and partner institutes abroad.

Age, knowlege and goals are the conditions which have to be considered when individual mentoring is organized. AEC is grateful to cooperate with numerous experts who are willing to share time and experience in a highly unbuerocratic and spontaneous way.


mentors Wolfgang Berger, Klaus Schmid and Helmut-Klaus Schimany and students of Herta Firnberg Schulen

 Cooperation with schools and teachers is a much more difficult task. Many representatives of the Austrian Education System are still sceptical when NGOs – especially libertarian, free market oriented institutes – offer programs. On one hand additional efforts could arise for teachers, on the other hand representatives are afraid of `ideological contamination´.

Individual contacts to as many teachers as possible is therefor of high importance to run the mentee program. Many teachers are aware of the need of economic education and are welcoming the initiative. It is our task to support these teachers by informing them and helping to overcome bureaucratic barriers. Also teachers are to be included in the process of creating individual programs.


Barbara Kolm holding a lesson in a school, located in one of Vienna´s migrant-receiving areas

Barbara Kolm holding a lesson in a school, located in one of Vienna´s migrant-receiving areas

To cooperate with schools we have to basically guarantee that no costs arise for participating in the mentee program for two main reasons: First, any costs have to be sanctified by parents and by authorities and second, teachers who engage are doing so privately. Therfor AEC is to guarantee that any costs such as travel expenses, housing, bevarege, locations and material are covered as well for the students as for accompanying teachers and our mentors.

We have learned that these costs highly depend on where the students live, whether the students have to travel to meet the mentor or if the mentors come to see the students at their place, on capacaty of meeting rooms in the schools and, of course, on the need of material.
To meet the individual needs of students AEC also offers special support: AEC organizes and covers costs for educational journeys, internships, hands-on training and partizipation at conferences and meetings.

Once more we face costs which are very difficult to be foreseen. Therefor AEC dedicates a certain amount of its regular budget to educational activities and additional fund raising has to be considered in every single case. This seems to be very difficult but still staying flexible is of essential importance.

2013 workshops and lessons:


Barbara Kolm                    Friedrich A. v. Hayek Institut        Introduction to Theory of Economics

Manfred Kastner              VisionMicrofinance                        Entrepreneurship: Liberty and Responsibility

Alfred Harl                         Harl Consulting                               Start Up…In the beginning there is a vision…

Gerald Steger                    Cafe+Co International                   International Trade

Helmut Siller                     Consulting                                        Corruption – is our democraty becoming criminal?

Florian Vanek                    Wiener Börse                                  Finance Markets

Wolfgang Berger             Mondi International Group          International Entrepreneural Transactions

Klaus Schmid                     Capgemini                                        Mobility in Future – Urban Development and Energy

Helmut-Klaus Schimany cmobility Ingenieurbüro Mobility in Future – Tecnical Visions

Georg Vetter                     Vetter-Lesky lawers                       The Importance of Competition

Andreas Unterberger      Independent Blogger/Journalist Journalism/Economics/Society

Barbara Kolm                    Friedrich A.- v. Hayek Institut       Questions?


Georg Vetter showing Law, Liberty and Legislation

Anna-Maria Apata, partizipating student says:

(…)ich bedanke mich hiermit noch einmal für den interessant gestalteten Workshop. Er hat meinen Mitschüler/innen und mir sehr gut gefallen, da die Referenten/innen uns die komplizierten und kontroversen Wirtschaftsthemen sehr lebendig erklärt haben und auf unsere Fragen eingegangen sind. (…)

(…) once more I may express my thanks for the possibility to partizipate at the highly interessting workshops. My comrates and I were deeply impressed by the lectures who have presented the complex and controversal economic themes very lively and answered our questions very pationally. (…)


Florian Vanek explaining stock exchange

2013 Individual training:

 traineeship at Cap Gemini (1 student)

traineeship at Hayek Institut (1 student)

2 workshops at the depandance of the European Parliament

with Othmar Karas, Vicepresident of the European Parliament (30 students)

conferences:      FMRS (2 students)

ERB (2 students)

BMVIT-informal meeting traffic and mobility strategies (1 student)


first hand background information about EU policy by Vize President of the EU Parliament
Othmar Karas

Report by student

Thomas M. G. Dertnig from Dallas (TX) and Washington D.C., USA.

USA stay in Dallas and Washington D.C.,2012

When I left on July 25th for the United States I did not know what to expect. The Austrian Economics Center invited me after my victory in their essay competition, topic „Education for the next generation“, to accompany the delegation of the institute at a conference in Dallas and to work in Washington D.C..

As a middle European I informed myself previously about the two destinations of my travel on the Internet, which was not very hard because of the size of the cities. However, I slowly prepared for the trip. But the more near the travel draw, the more my exertion became. Daily I filled my suitcase with more clothes until it reached its capacities two days before the departure. Because I live in Salzburg I had to stay up very early on July 25th to reach my plane from Vienna.

In comparison to flights inside the Schengen-zone a trip to the US is connected with much more administrative effort. Because my stay lasted less than 90 days, I did not have to apply for a visa. Although I had to register 72 hours before departure on the ESTA online platform to announce my trip to the US government and to make sure I do not plan any terrorist attack.

Some members of our delegation, under the leading of Dr. Barbara Kolm, have already been in Dallas, so I only met the stragglers at the airport. Also from Vienna there is no direct connection existing to Dallas, so we had to stop in Washington D.C. after ten hours flight. To this destination there is a time difference of six hours, so we landed at 2 p.m. Dulles International Airport Washington D.C. was also the place where we entered the United States. One should always include a lot of extra time to pass customs and security checks – we needed two hours for this.

After this stopover we had to attend a plane for three more hours, with which we flew over another time zone. In the evening we reached Dallas tiredly. At the airport we were warmly welcomed. After dinner in a tex-mex place I went to bed.

The following morning we had off, so we decided to do some sight-seeing. One has to imagine Dallas as a typical, American major city. In the centre the skyline is located, mostly consisting of office buildings and car parks. Many people commute daily from the suburbs up to 50 miles into the city to work there. But after the rush-hour in the evening the city is nearly deserted. After a short tour to the Magnolia Tower, former highest building in Texas, we went back to the hotel. Even a brief walk outside is exhausting in a temperature of 100° F (40° C). The difference to the air-conditioned buildings is huge.

After we got back to our accommodation we met the other participants of the conference. More than 20 nations took part, for example Australia, Japan and Italy. There we also met Dr. Kolm. Topics of the conference were campaigning, which are not common in Europe in this sort, and new media, focus on Twitter. After lunch we visited the American Airlines Center, home of the Dallas Mavericks (Basketball, NBA), well known in Austria because of captain Dirk Nowitzki. Between 4 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. a previous event, across from 6 p.m. a rally of Texan senator candidate Ted Cruz took place.

The voting system in the US is very different from ours. It is more centred on the individual candidates, not the parties. Since Democrats and Republicans both cover a wide range of political views, the election campaigns polarize more. Candidates strongly appeal the contrasts to each other, even through negative descriptions of opponents.

In most of the states the winner takes it all (majority voting system), but there are some states with proportional voting system as well (Nebraska, Maine). Before election caucuses (discussions), primaries or both take place. Also multi-level primaries with a runoff, for example in Texas, are possible.

During the previous event nearly 16.000 people filled the impressive location. The speakers talked about grassroots-activism, how political mobilizing in the US is called. Interestingly many families with children attend political events there as well or travel through the whole country to help their fellows. But this system has also disadvantages: if you are at an event, you share this opinion, if you are not there, you disagree.

The organizations who arrange activities like this try to unite participants on simple principles. FreedomWorks, a big player in this business, did a great job on this day:

Matt Kibbe (CEO of FreedomWorks), Glenn Beck (famous talkmaster), Dick Armey (former majority leader in the House of Representatives), Richard Mourdock (Senate candidate in Indiana), Dean Clancy (FreedomWorks) and Mike Lee (Senator of Utah), all stars in the states, took part in this outstanding event. The Professionalism of the mentioned activities is a welcome change to the tired campaigns in Austria. The speakers are obviously well briefed and visitors had the feeling of standing on the right side.

FreedomWorks also introduced the services, which they offer to supporters and activists all around the country, for example door hangers, street signs and printed t-shirts.

I want to mention at this point a very interesting concept for me, a service which they offer on their homepage. One can find out the numbers of so called super voters, people who voted in all of the last four elections, and phone them to support a specific candidate. People all across the country can use this campaigning tool to assist in one area.

Supporters also spend their own money on participating in political events, unimaginably in Europe. In contrast to Austria, bloggers are an important part of the media environment in the US, they even get an own press area. As international guests we got good sights in front of the stage, we actually were asked to go on scene. At the after-show event I had the opportunity to talk to the speakers. I want to mention a conversation with a blogger from the US about rising taxes and living expenses and the consequences for his life.

On Friday evening we came together in a ballroom of the hotel for a presentation of the current and future activities of FreedomWorks and a seminar about social media.

After interesting insights we went for a traditional American evening program – Baseball. At the Arlington Ballpark, a few miles outside of Dallas, we watched the game Texas Rangers versus Chicago White Sox.

Saturday was our sight-seeing day. We visited a historical cabin and the place where Kennedy was shot.

After that we had a meeting. In the evening we left for a big event in the Dallas Cowboys Stadium (Football, NFL). The event was fully moderated by Glen Beck. Nearly each of the 100.000 seats was filled. Restoring love – so the title – was history lesson, sometimes sermon, but mostly an appeal to get active and socially busy, accompanied with live music and artifacts, like the desk of George Washington or the most expensive baseball card (Honus Wagner). It is very hard to describe such an event to a European, because we do not have anything similar. Even for people with no political interest I would recommend the visit of a so called rally. Also in this event we were greeted with applause. Generally Americans are friendlier than the average middle European.

The majority of our delegation had to say goodbye to the US on this day because their plane was leaving the next morning. Once again I flew in at Dulles International Airport (Washington D.C.). I spent the afternoon with unpacking my suitcase and a short sight-seeing tour.

On the following day I was picked up and taken to the above mentioned institute, where I worked one week. I could decide in which department I wanted to work, so I choose school choice. The idea of an opening of the education market is a very interesting one. It should guarantee parents to send their children to schools they think are good for them. Parents should not be only able to pick every public school in the country but also with vouchers every private one. The United States have at the moment not only one of the most expensive school systems in the world but also one of the least efficient ones. In international education comparisons they achieve fewer points than a weak Austria. In contrast the universities of the US are well-known and have a good reputation, for example Harvard, Yale or Stanford.

Does a free market in education open doors to both parents and children? Is a person full of age able to make a school decision or should this be done by the state? The ideas of school choice should also find more support in the ongoing school debate in Austria.

After work I could see all the sights Washington offers, e.g. Washington Monument, Jefferson and Lincoln Memorial. Highlight of my stay there was definitely a VIP-tour through the capitol, which my colleagues organized for me.

The results of the work of employees of FreedomWorks are often publicized in blog form. But a blog does not mean anything similar to personal diarys (as we know them in Austria), this are mostly short essays, dedicated to make the reader think of the topic. At this point I want to highly recommend the website of the institute: >

The week passed by very quickly and I was able to meet so many interesting people and learn a lot about free market ideas.

On Saturday, August 4th I had the whole day off to see the rest of the sights. I visited the national art gallery as well as the national air space museum. I used the morning of the following day to get last impressions of the capital of the US. In the evening my plane left back to Austria.

I definitely became a lot of amazing impressions and great experiences thanks to the Austrian Economics Center richer.