Cantons to offer ‘pre-apprenticeship’ training to refugees

Switzerland is launching a pilot scheme to help refugees and asylum seekers allowed to stay to integrate into the workforce. Keystone

Switzerland is rolling out a one-year pilot scheme to help refugees and asylum seekers allowed to stay in the country prepare for an apprenticeship, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) announced on Thursday.

Eighteen out of 26 cantons will offer the so-called pre-apprenticeship course for one year to selected refugees and asylum seekers to help with their integration. The aim is to prepare those with labour market potential for a full apprenticeship.

Under the scheme, participants will work three days per week in a company and acquire the practical, academic and language skills necessary for an apprenticeship.

The programme, which has been agreed for a four-year period, should cost CHF46.8 million (S46.8 million). SEM will provide co-financing for a maximum of 3,600 places. Cantonal authorities, which are responsible for providing vocational training, will receive a fixed annual fee of CHF13,000 per training placement.

The scheme will be implemented together with companies, business associations and vocational schools. The cantons are currently recruiting participants and talking to interested companies.

Eighteen cantons have signed a contract with the federal government, including the six French-speaking cantons and the canton of Bern. In the canton of Zurich, a tech hub, pre-apprenticeships are already available in the logistics sector.

The integration pilot scheme is part of the government’s efforts to boost the potential of the national workforce. In 2019, the federal authorities will decide whether to renew the programme or not.

It also belongs to the national integration agenda – an accord between the federal and cantonal governments – which the government presented in April, detailing how the authorities plan to speed up the integration of refugees into the labour market.

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