A joint public-private project which helps young people with learning difficulties find vocational training positions is gathering pace.
The scheme, Speranza 2000, is to hire experts on a regional level to promote the creation of short training opportunities in different sectors.
The aim is to set up about 3,000 short apprenticeship positions over the next two years, the organisers announced on Friday.
Since its launch earlier this year Speranza 2000 has created about 1,800 training positions in eight sectors – lasting one or two years instead of a complete apprenticeship of at least four years. Three additional courses are to follow.
The plastics industry said there was a need for short vocational training courses to replace experienced staff who were leaving.
"The shorter training opportunities are better adapted to the abilities of the young people and gives us greater choice of candidates," said Heinz Rischgasser, president of the Association of the Plastics Industry.
The founder of Speranza project, Otto Ineichen, said more opportunities were also in demand in the health and fitness sector.
"We failed to integrate up to 20,000 young people into the job market over the past years," Ineichen told swissinfo.
Ineichen, a businessman and parliamentarian, launched Speranza 2000 earlier this year in an effort to tackle unemployment among youngsters.
He added that the project initially met scepticism from the authorities and had to cope with administrative hurdles.
"We had a lot of convincing to do," said Ineichen.
The three-year project is funded jointly by the federal authorities and private sponsors and has the support of employers organisations and the cantons. Costs for 2007 are estimated at SFr2 million ($1.7 million).
Concerns over the shortage in jobs for school-leavers have been mounting over recent years, with unions and teachers calling on the government to do more.
Speaking at a national conference on apprenticeships in Geneva earlier this month, Economics Minister Doris Leuthard admitted that around 3,000 young people had failed to find an apprenticeship place this year.
Youngsters with problems at home or in the classroom are the ones most likely to experience difficulties. Furthermore, available places are not shared equally across different employment sectors: the retail, health and technical sectors are failing to keep up with demand.
The government, in collaboration with the cantons, is now aiming to introduce a management system to deal with individuals on a case-by-case basis.
swissinfo with agencies
Vocational education and training enables young adults to make the transition to working life and ensures that there are enough qualified people in the future.
The aim of basic vocational training is to provide students with sufficient specialised or technical knowledge to practise a trade or profession. Training lasts between two and four years.
Upon completion, students are awarded a vocational certificate or a federal certificate of proficiency, and can immediately begin work in their trade.
Every year in Switzerland 70,000-80,000 young people look for an apprenticeship.
In 2006 so far around 3,000 could not find suitable placement.
The national apprenticeship conference was held in Geneva on November 13.
Cantonal and government representatives as well as members of the business world took part.
The programme which was launched in spring 2006 is aimed at creating short vocational training opportunities.
The three-year project is a joint public-private initiative led by businessman and parliamentarian Otto Ineichen.
About 1,800 positions in five different sectors have been set up by November 2006.