Apprenticeships and their social status – your views

An apprentice tinsmith demonstrates his work at a VET careers fair in Lausanne Keystone


We asked readers whether apprenticeships were considered a good option for young people in their home countries. While there were many positive voices, many said “not always”.

This content was published on July 25, 2018 - 11:00

Earlier this month published an article about whether social status plays a role in young people’s career choices - i.e. apprenticeship or academic route - in Switzerland. It featured a study that found that apprenticeships had not actually lost their social status, like some had feared.

+ Here's the original article on social status and career choiceExternal link

Vocational training was still popular among the Swiss and migrants from neighbouring countries like Austria and Germany. It was another matter among foreigners with no strong apprenticeship tradition.

Our -  non-scientific - polls on social media showed that swissinfo’s international readers were more or less split over whether apprenticeships were considered a good option in their home countries as well: on twitter it was 55% yes/45% no: on Facebook it was 59% yes/41% no.

A further snapshot of our readers’ views came in the comments.

For example, the state recently appointed former US ambassador to Switzerland Suzi LeVineExternal link as commissioner of the Employment Security Department. She has been working on establishing apprenticeship offerings in several states since her return to the US. The state has also expanded its youth apprenticeship programmeExternal link for the aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries.

More from the US

On Facebook, Alan Thomas and Anton Zurbrügg said there were a network of schools offering apprenticeships in the US, although Zurbrügg said they were “widely variable and patchwork across the country”.

“One of the main obstacles in my opinion is social resistance by families to have their children educated to follow a “blue collar” trade... too many parents insist that the only acceptable option for their children is to pursue a 4-year university baccalaureate degree which may or may not have reasonable future employment potential,” Zurbrügg posted. Thomas agreed: often technical and trade schools were often seen as a “second choice, if you can’t get into a four-year college”.

From South Africa to India

Pauline Matt said that apprenticeships used to be well respected in South Africa, but that this was no longer the case. Given the high unemployment rate in the country, vocational training would be a means of “upliftment”, she said.

Carlo Peretti, from Italy, bemoaned the fact that the country had started to introduce vocational training, but “that’s absolutely useless and mothering compared to the Swiss lehre (apprenticeship)”.

Meanwhile on twitter, Sanjeev Agrawal commented on India.

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But also looked at the how immigrants view apprenticeships in Switzerland.

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As did Joelle Nebbe-Morand, writing from the United Kingdom.

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Praise for Switzerland

Several readers spoke of their own experiences.

Eliane Rochat, posting in French on Facebook, was involved in apprenticeship training in canton Vaud, and said vocational training got students in contact with “real life”.

“In my area (pharmacy) we trained dozens of apprentices who started mostly at age 16, still young adolescents, and who sometimes finished their training having repeated a year. This never had any repercussions on their relationships with their bosses or put them at risk of not finishing their training,” she said. Some even went on to get higher qualifications.

+ Read more about how the Swiss dual track system works here

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Reader Wanderer pointed out in comments on the article that tradespeople were still needed across Europe. Switzerland had “better stick with VET [vocational education and training] and ensure that employers support it by giving the apprentice a job”.

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