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Building for the future

Search for young masons hits a brick wall

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Many Swiss companies still have apprenticeship places up for grabs, including hundreds of spots for would-be bricklayers. (SRF/swissinfo.ch

Thousands of 16-year-olds are finishing full-time education this time of the year. When the summer holidays are over, they will be starting apprenticeships: practical training combined with classroom lessons. 

According to the Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology, the Swiss apprenticeship programme, also known as Vocational Education and Training (VET), “provides two-thirds of young people in Switzerland with a solid foundation in a given occupation”.

Over 50,000 trainee places have been assigned so far this year, but more are still available. As of June 2015, there were 22,000 places on offer, but only 15,000 school leavers still looking for a position.

The trainee shortage is more pronounced in some branches than others. The building trade and polymechanics tend to be less popular than the health industry and commercial professions, for example. 

There are 1,500 places for bricklayers, but 300 remain vacant. The building branch is now trying to drum up more enthusiasm for the profession.