SRF: Swiss companies don't want apprentices to study during placement

SRF: Swiss companies don't want apprentices to study during placement

Swiss companies are increasingly refusing to offer apprentices the opportunity to obtain a vocational baccalaureate, as they prefer their workers dedicate the entire week to their apprenticeship rather than studying, according to a report by SRF.

Apprenticeships in Switzerland

Apprenticeships in Switzerland remain a very popular option for young people who do not want to study at a Swiss university or soldier through a gymnasium - widely recognised as one of the toughest secondary school systems in Europe.

At the moment, there are two ways to undertake an apprenticeship with a vocational baccalaureate - the first: complete an apprenticeship full-time, and then complete a baccalaureate study at the end of the apprenticeship. Second - students can work part of the week as an apprentice and study for a vocational baccalaureate on the remaining days. 

Naturally, companies prefer the first option, but the Swiss cantons favour the second. The part-time option has become so unpopular with Swiss companies that some are no longer offering the corresponding vocational baccalaureate as an option, despite there still being strong interest from apprentices, according to SRF

Swiss apprentices are used like “cheap labour”

According to Christophe Nydegger, head of the vocational training office in the canton of Fribourg, one of the reasons for this is the fact that many companies see an opportunity to hire apprentices as “cheap labour” since apprentices are paid a lower salary than workers who are hired on a full work contract. Nydegger issued a reminder to companies in an interview with SRF: "An apprenticeship contract is a contract for training and not necessarily for profitability."

On the other hand, Nicole Meier, head of vocational training at the Swiss Employers' Association, disagrees with the statement made by Nydegger. "The apprenticeship has priority over the vocational baccalaureate", stated Meier, adding that the companies prepare the apprentices for the baccalaureate and help to make them proficient, therefore, completing the baccalaureate after the apprenticeship makes sense. 

Meier also disagrees with the issue of apprentices being used as cheap labour without providing training. "The willingness of Swiss companies to provide training is really high. There is nowhere else in the world on this scale”, she added.  



Emily Proctor

Former Editor at IamExpat Media.

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