Some of Switzerland's top CEOs did apprenticeships instead of high school

Some of Switzerland's top CEOs did apprenticeships instead of high school

Switzerland’s successful apprenticeship model is now being considered by the government in the United States as an alternative option to high school. Several prominent Swiss businesspeople are the product of the apprenticeship system, and the model leads to lower levels of youth unemployment. 

Top CEOs have been apprentices in Switzerland

Switzerland’s model of apprenticeship qualifications was championed as a potential alternative form of education to high school for some students in the United States last week, as Guy Parmelin, the president of Switzerland, travelled to the US to discuss training and cooperation on a potential future scheme. 

Apprenticeships aim to give young people hands-on experience and employment-specific training so that they can continue to build on their skills while working a job. Nonetheless, there is often a misconception that only gymnasium graduates can be truly successful in their careers. 

Former UBS CEO Sergio Ermotti and Lindt & Sprüngli Chairman Ernst Tanner both began their careers with apprenticeships, rather than high school diplomas, along with many other prominent Swiss executives and entrepreneurs, demonstrating the value of practical experience early on in young people’s careers.

Lower rates of unemployment in young people

According to research by the Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training, apprenticeship graduates are less likely to be unemployed than high school graduates. Those who have gone through an apprenticeship are also more likely to go into future management positions - this explains why so many CEOs have found success from their qualifications. 

The research also found no major difference in salaries between gymnasium graduates and apprentices, despite their differing qualifications. The US has taken an interest in the model as a way to create a skilled young workforce, who can enter the labour market earlier, in an attempt to reduce youth unemployment.



Emily Proctor

Former Editor at IamExpat Media.

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