Letters to the Editor

Are you prepared for an emergency situation?

That is the title in Current  Concerns No. 1 from 14 January 2020. While reading this article I remembered how we practiced for emergencies after the Second World War.

When we received our diploma as a Red Cross nurse at the Lindenhof in Berne in 1951, we were asked whether we would serve in an emergency, be it war or disaster. I volunteered and in 1958 I had to report to Glarus for a week-long exercise with Detachment 41. We were dressed like men: trousers, helmet, rucksack, high shoes.

A military hospital was established in the large school building. Patients were those who had been wounded in military service during the war and who were entitled to AHV (Old-age insurance system in Switzerland, OASI) benefits. Hospital rooms, a laboratory and x-rays were set up in the school building. Two doctors’ rooms and a dormitory for the 23 nurses were also in the school building. Rucksack and shoes were under the bed and the washcloth on a bar at the top of the bed. We had to wash and shower cold, that was the worst.

The “patients”, who were allowed to stay in bed for a week, were examined, x-rayed and their blood was tested in the laboratory. Some of the nurses were in charge of the medical ward, others of the surgical ward, just as they had been trained in civilian life.

In the afternoon the sisters were taught the same topics as the soldiers, including how to behave in a nuclear war.

Today I am almost 95 years old and fortunately I have never had such an emergency!

Lisette Schär, Sirnach, CH

(Translation Current Concerns)

Swiss professional training on a dangerously wayward path

Swiss vocational training has to date been successful worldwide, but the radical restructuring of commercial vocational training (KV) in form of the “Kaufleute 2022” project may turn out to be a severe blow, if the so-called “competence orientation”
and “self-directed learning”, which we have become acquainted with in the controversial “Curriculum 21”, were to set a precedent in other professions as well.
The “Kaufleute 2022” reform is supposed to make KV graduates fit for the future. The idea is that professional competence is no longer what is primarily in demand. The KV apprentices slip into the role of “agile mediators”, whatever that may be. For this reason, instead of the previous classical subjects, they should acquire diffuse “competences to act” such as “acting in agile forms of work and organisation” or “interacting in a networked working environment”. KV teachers fear a reduction in basic knowledge as a result. However, KV teachers have no say in the reform. Various KV schools in the canton of Zurich have muzzled their teachers so that they cannot criticise the “Kaufleute 2022” project.
Apprentices are to be allowed to drop main subjects such as finance and accounting. This means that the training companies will have to train their apprentices in these subjects themselves. The main subjects form the indispensable basic competences
for the commercial profession, which no company can do without.
Commercial vocational training is by far the most popular apprenticeship in Switzerland. In 2019, more than 13,000 young people started an apprenticeship in one of the 21 KV sectors. And this successful apprenticeship, of all things, is now to be completely restructured by means of the radical reform “Kaufleute 2022”! The ground for this radical reform is to be prepared with gloomy future scenarios such as the allegation of 100,000 office jobs being endangered by digitalisation. A similar thing was prophesied in relation to the so-called ‘paperless office’ in the early days of digitalisation, which on the contrary has led to today’s enormous paper flood.
With this a-la-carte training, the hitherto generally recognised Federal Certificate of Competence will become a worthless piece of paper. And it is not only the teachers who are feeling gloomy about the future. Our youth is in danger of higher unemployment rates and companies are threatened with lower added value as a result of this much too narrow training.

Peter Aebersold, Zurich

(Translation Current Concerns)

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