The Swiss model: Who needs college when you can go to vocational school?
Youngsters like Bove, who opt for the vocational education, follow a dual-track approach combining practical training at a host company with a part-time classroom instruction at a VET school. Trade organizations determine skills that are most in demand in the labor market,ensuring that apprentices will be adequately trained for jobs in their fields.
So far, this approach has been very successful: less than 3% of Switzerland’s young people are unemployed, the lowest rate among 30 industrialized countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. (As a comparison, that rate is over 12% in the U.S and 22% in European Union nations).
Currently, approximately 58,000 Swiss companies provide VET program to roughly 80,000 apprentices – impressive numbers in a country of only 8 million people. They offer training in commercial, retail, healthcare, technology, and other fields. “Businesses regard training of young people as their social responsibility,” says Franziska Schwarz, Vice Director of the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology (OPET), which oversees the country’s vocational programs.