The image of VET is quite positive in the Swiss population as most citizens themselves have been apprentices. Generally, apprenticeship marketing is a cantonal task in Switzerland. Cantonal VET offices being familiar with the conditions in their regions maintain contacts with local businesses, assess the number of available apprenticeship positions and offer individual support to young people. Nevertheless, promoting the Swiss Vocational and Professional Education and Training system is a shared responsibility in the public-private partnership.

Apprenticeship marketing

Apprenticeship marketing is a cantonal task in Switzerland. Cantonal VET offices are familiar with the conditions in their regions. They also establish and maintain contacts with local businesses. Ac-cordingly, they are the best placed to assess the number of available apprenticeships, to take suitable measures at the right time and to offer individual support to young people in their search for an apprenticeship position. The cantonal VET offices are responsible for implementing VET at cantonal level, they coordinate their activities through the Swiss Conference of VET Offices (SBBK), a specialised conference of the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK). If the apprenticeship situation is strained, then the federal government may step in to offer additional financial incentives. The most important apprenticeship marketing measures are:

  1. Information and advice on careers
  2. Apprenticeship records
  3. Creation of host company networks
  4. Provision of state-sponsored transitional options (mainly bridge-year courses)
  5. VET promotion agents deal directly with companies, encouraging them to create apprenticeship positions
  6. Placement and individual mentoring of young people who have been unable to find a suitable apprenticeship

Image of apprenticeships in society

Two-thirds of all young people coming out of compulsory education in Switzerland enrol in VET. VET qualifications boost job prospects in the labour market and form the basis for lifelong learning. In Switzerland, nearly 95% of young people hold upper-secondary level qualifications. VET graduates enjoy good employment prospects in the labour market. They are sought after by SMEs and large-sized companies alike and enjoy high rates of employment. Young people and adults without post-compulsory qualifications are more frequently unemployed than those who have completed VET. The long-term average (2014) unemployment rate of those without post-compulsory qualifications is 1.9 times higher for young people and 2.7 times higher for adults.

Promoting the VPET system

The promotion of VPET is a shared responsibility of professional organisations, the cantons and the Confederation. The overarching image campaign for the entire Swiss VPET system is called ‘VETPLUS.CH’ and is supported by professional organisations, the cantons and the Confederation. The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) is responsible for running the VETPLUS.CH campaign. Initially launched in 2007, the latest conceptual relaunch took place in August 2015. The current campaign specifically aims to

  • Raise public awareness and the image of VPET.
  • Show the career possibilities that VPET offers.
  • Encourage companies to offer apprenticeship and traineeship positions.
  • Help to supply the economy with qualified workers.

Promoting specific VET qualifications

VPET actors are free to complement the national campaign with their own promotional activities. Promoting the attractiveness of specific VET qualifications to young people is mainly a task of the different professional organisations. They are in charge of forming the image of a profession by pointing out the positive aspects of a profession and attracting the youth to start an apprenticeship in their field/branch. Goals of those campaigns are for example to increase public awareness of specific qualifications or systemic elements of VPET. Many trade/industry associations have launched their own campaigns to raise awareness of the qualifications of their specific branch (Examples: Professional organisations such as OdA AgriAliForm and Swissbaker, as well as large retailers like Migros). Some professional organisations like the construction sector offer attractive apprenticeship salaries (Example: Baumeisterverband) or the gastronomy sector highlights the permeability of their sector and that it is possible to obtain additional VET qualifications in the sector after completing ini-tial training in a fast-track way (Example: hotelleriesuisse and GastroSuisse). Some initiatives are aimed to attract young people with a baccalaureate to begin with a (shortened) apprenticeship (Ex-amples: ‘Way up”, IT Dreamjobs). Detailed and honest information concerning the work environment and conditions are important for young people interested in beginning an apprenticeship. This sincerity may also help to attract young people to begin an apprenticeship. Future prospects seem to be an important decision factor for young people. It is important to answer all questions about an occupation and to show young people the full range of possibilities, job environment, reality of work life, as well as responsibilities/duties. Generally, the notion that VET is not a dead-end but the beginning of a professional career with many possibilities not only in PE (higher VET), but also at higher education institutions is very important for the positive perception of VET. An average of 17% of all apprentices are attaining the Federal Vocational baccalaureate (FVB), which shows that the broad career opportunities are available in VPET.

International VPET Congress

The International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training offers a platform for the players in international cooperation in VPET to engage in open dialogue and share good practices. The Congress provides global networking and expertise transfer opportunities, promoting bilateral and multilateral cooperation and the status of vocational and professional education and training throughout the world. This professional event attracts an international audience from the fields of education, politics and business. It is addressed in particular at VPET decision-makers and specialists from public administration, educational institutions, businesses and associations.
The 3rd International Congress on Vocational and Professional Education and Training will be held from 6 to 8 June 2018 in Winterthur, Switzerland, under the motto Skills for Employability and Careers. The first two congresses in 2014 and 2016 having focused on image building and the core elements of VPET systems, the 2018 event will concentrate on the individual and career opportunities provided by VPET.

Links:

Professional organisations promoting specific branches or qualifications

Material:

  • Presentation from Country Workshop Bonn, November 2015 (PDF)