The Swiss Olympic Association (SOA) has launched a new apprenticeship to give athletes recognition at federal level. Some 40 athletes will take the new federal certificate in sport this autumn in clubs and associations across the country.
The project is the brainchild of the former minister for sport, Adolf Ogi, and is intended to give athletes without a high school degree the opportunity to obtain a federally-recognised qualification.
Until now, only athletes attending higher institutions which specialise in sport were able to obtain such a qualification.
Hans Kelterborn, a member of the SOA, told swissinfo that the new certificate would follow the traditional pattern of apprenticeships, which consist of two days of formal training a week with the other three spent on the job.
"Athletes will follow theoretical courses at a vocational school two days a week. The rest of the time will be devoted to their sport within a club," he said.
The training begins after a contract is signed with a sports organisation. Athletes are able to specialise in one of three sports, including football, ice-hockey and skiing.
The training, which lasts three to four years, ends with both a written and a practical examination.
"The practical exam will be different for this type of apprenticeship," Kelterborn explained. "Based on a series of observations, the club or association will decide whether the apprentice has made sufficient progress in his/her discipline."
Some 40 athletes are expected to begin their apprenticeship this coming autumn. The programme so far has only attracted male athletes.
By the end of the apprenticeship, athletes will be expected to have an extensive knowledge of their sport and sports in general. They will also be competent in subjects such as physiology, nutrition, and the prevention of injuries.
swissinfo with agencies