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Apprenticeships bring in profits

Many school leavers have difficulty finding a job


The cost of training apprentices is outweighed by the profits they bring to businesses, a Swiss study has shown.

But thousands of Swiss school leavers are still failing to find apprenticeships, which is a cause of concern to the educational authorities. A new training scheme is being introduced aimed at weaker students.

The study, the second of its kind and carried out by Bern University for the Federal Professional Education and Technology Office, found that the average cost of training an apprentice amounted to SFr27,000 ($22,900).

But the profit brought in by an apprentice was nearly SFr30,000.

The report, which was published on Thursday, said that in two thirds of companies the apprentice paid for their own training through their work in the company.

In many cases a firm saved itself the expense of recruitment and training new employees by having young trainees.

Even so, not all businesses are aware of the cost benefits of training apprentices, warned the reports' authors.

The federal office says there is a shortfall of 5,000 apprenticeships this year, with foreigners and weaker students having the greatest difficulty in finding places.

Social problems

Experts have warned that young peoples' failure to find a job could have consequences for society.

"This is a social time bomb. It we want to combat youth violence and disaffection this is where we have to make a start," said Ralf Margreiter, head of the Youth Section of the Swiss Commercial Employees' Association.

The federal office has therefore introduced a new two-year apprenticeship which will lead to a nationally-recognised certificate.

"It is aimed mainly at young people who have not done so well at school," Serge Imboden, the federal office's deputy director, told swissinfo.

Another target of the new certificate are young people who are good at practical work. The two-year training scheme gives preference to these types of tasks over traditional school subjects.

It is already available for jobs in 14 different areas. The federal office says this kind of training plugs gaps in many firms.

Early recognition

A fifth of all apprentices do not currently complete their training. The authorities are now offering a number of ways to help them, including a telephone hotline and individual advice and support.

The federal office is also breaking new ground with what it calls "the case management" model. This will target "problem" pupils at the end of compulsory schooling – and give them individual supervision.

The aim is to help them tackle their problems so that they feel motivated when they start their job training.

swissinfo, based on a German article by Renat Künzi

In brief

Switzerland is known for its dual vocational training system.

Apprentices train on the job and also take technical theory lessons in a vocational school.

After completing an apprenticeship and gaining some experience, some people go on to study at a technical college.

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Apprenticeship problems

There are not enough apprenticeship places in Switzerland - this year the shortfall is estimated at 5,000 places.

In July youth unemployment stood at 3.4% - higher than the overall average of 2.6%. But it is still lower than in other countries.

Most disadvantaged on the job market are young people who have not done so well at school and foreigners.

Each year, an estimated 2,000-2,500 school leavers fail to find an apprenticeship. Some end up on benefits.

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