Young Swiss lack the right tools for work

The Swiss training system needs to be streamlined, say experts

Experts are calling for a radical overhaul of Switzerland’s training and further education system, claiming it fails to meet the needs of today’s job market.

This content was published on September 8, 2004 - 11:35

The report, compiled by the Swiss National Science Foundation, calls for greater emphasis on more general skills, such as project management and problem solving.

According to the “Training and Employment” study, published on Wednesday, Switzerland is too heavily geared towards vocational training.

“The modern job market [especially in the service sector] no longer requires professionals in the traditional sense of the word. Training should be more focused on the activities or functions carried out,” said Karl Weber, director of the study, in a written statement.

“[This includes], for example, knowing how to manage projects and how to solve problems independently,” he added.


The report comes at a time when youth unemployment is on the rise.

Unemployment figures released on Tuesday revealed that the jobless rate among 15- to 24-year-olds hit 5.3 per cent in August – well above the national average of 3.7 per cent.

But the study said unemployment and the crisis in the number of apprenticeship places – in 2003 there were 5,000 more people seeking work than places available – were not just down to the sluggish economy.

It said this was also the result of a decline in manufacturing and industry and an increase in the number of white-collar jobs.

Weber called for minimum professional qualifications guaranteed by standardised tests in areas such as computing, maths and foreign languages.

He added that apprentices and students should also be encouraged to undertake further training throughout their careers.


George Sheldon, a professor at Basel University, said that the further education system could easily be adapted to the needs of the job market.

But he said the state needed to do more to help people without qualifications.

“One of the main aims should also be avoiding a situation where between ten per cent and 15 per cent of young people are leaving school without any qualifications,” said Sheldon.

Weber added that institutions, such as universities and colleges, should reduce the number of courses they offer.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), almost 90 per cent of all men and women between the ages of 25 and 34 finish some sort of training in Switzerland.

But only a third of young people graduate from college or university in the country compared with a 41 per cent OECD average.


Researchers also found that there was still far too much inequality between the sexes in the workplace.

Statistics show that women are still paid on average 20 per cent less than men and are under-represented in politics and managerial positions.

The University of Geneva’s Martine Chaponnière said that sexual stereotyping still applied in the type of jobs chosen, adding that there were still not enough women in the technology sector.

More training should also be given to part-time workers or those who have taken time out for family reasons, she said.

“Better integration of young foreigners at an educational and professional level would promote innovation in Switzerland,” added the study.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

The study consists of 31 projects in several different disciplines.
It cost a total of SFr8 million.
The research took four years to complete.

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In brief

The study says that training in Switzerland is currently too heavily orientated towards gaining a profession.

It says that in the future, training will need to include extra skills, such as project management.

It also calls for minimum professional qualifications that are guaranteed by standardised national-level tests.

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In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

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