Dual vocational training – Success factor for the economic location and for our youth

mw. In his article on page 8, Pierre-Gabriel Bieri describes the dual Swiss vocational training system as a «success factor». This is undoubtedly true, not only from the entrepreneur’s point of view, but also from the perspective of the entire social structure, and particularly also for the personal development of the individual young persons who serve and successfully complete an apprenticeship. This means that the great majority of young people – particularly also those from migrant families – are socially well-integrated and attended to in the difficult time of growing up. Last but not least, it is thanks to the dual vocational training that youth unemployment in Switzerland is so low.
In the last few years, however, many training places have remained unfilled despite their great number and variety, and despite the great commitment of the vocational trainers in the relevant companies. P.-G. Bieri mentions the tendency of many parents and teachers to view academic training as a “better” way to work life as a reason for this development. Enterprises and professional associations might definitely counteract this tendency by means of more active information, as advocated by the author. But another problem with serious consequences must be addressed: as he also notes, elementary schools currently fail to equip all young people with the necessary school basics, and often also with the required attitude towards work. Here we have to start at the lower levels of school, and we must address the problem quickly and thoroughly: for the deplorable deficiencies will even be multiplied by Curriculum 21, which is currently being introduced in the Swiss-German cantons. Therefore we citizens, and especially the entrepreneurs among us, should put an emphatic end to the bad development of our schools.
An important role in the dual vocational education and training system is played by the apprenticeship companies. Dual vocational training courses belong to the corporate culture, not only in SMEs, but also in most large Swiss companies. This is also the case with STIHL, an internationally active large-scale group which manufactures motor saws and other motor-driven equipment, especially for agriculture and forestry, in Wil and Bronschhofen (Canton of St. Gallen). A conversation with the group leader for vocational training, Jaqueline Brunner, gives a good insight into the valuable work of training companies.