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Career choices Senior high school: more options, or decisions delayed?

The number of young Swiss pursuing senior high school over apprenticeships has been rising, but half of them never graduate from university. So why is more schooling still more attractive? (SRF 10vor10/

Some students say it’s because they don’t know what direction they want to pursue at the age of 14 or 15, and senior high school offers more options long-term. Others say their parents feel it’s a better option than apprenticeships.

Trade associations who offer apprenticeships say those young people who choose senior high school out of uncertainty should take a harder look at apprenticeship possibilities. One association leader points out that system also allows for further study with vocational higher education degrees.

“We need good workers and we will educate them in the apprenticeship system,” she says.

And economist Rudolf Strahm says the picture of an apprenticeship as a highly technical, repetitive career path is outdated and wrong – most apprenticeship paths lead to high-demand careers where high-level knowledge is required.

Professor Walther Zimmerli calls for the opposite – more senior high school graduates, and more academic strength in Switzerland.

“We’re a top country of innovation, and we won’t be able to maintain that through a system focused so highly on apprenticeships,” he says.

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