Describes the Swiss apprenticeship model and presents the macroeconomic benefits of integrating the model in the United States using individual case studies of Swiss businesses that operate apprenticeships in the United States, testimonials from current state governors, and profiles of corporate executives who started their careers as apprentices.

Large youth unemployment, heavy college debt and lack of a qualified workforce plague many of the leading economies, especially the United States. In the last years, bipartisan interest in solving these problems has massively increased in many states and in the federal government….[Swiss companies] have started to adapt the Swiss educational system with its vocational education and training (VET) programs in their US operations, some for more than 10 years. And many more Swiss companies have committed to starting or expanding their programs in the US.

For these reasons, the publishers of this document feel that it is the right time to document these VET programs and give voice to the many stakeholders: Companies who are running such programs in the US, governors willing to promote and support such training programs and CEOs of large Swiss companies who started their careers as apprentices in VET programs” (p.6).

“[W]ith this document, [the publishers] aspire to give the many involved parties inspiration…[for] further development of VET programs in the United States:

  • It will give companies operating in the US a playbook for installing such programs and show that it is worthwhile.
  • It will give national, state, and local governments a blueprint and important advice on promoting such programs.
  • It will motivate young people to choose such a ‘college without debt’” (p.7).

The document begins with a description of the Swiss approach to apprenticeship and a discussion of why the Swiss-style apprenticeship model is attractive for companies, the wider economy, and individual participants. Subsequent sections present best practices from 11 Swiss companies that developed apprenticeship programs in the United States, testimonials from 7 current state governors, and profiles of 12 leaders of large corporations who began their careers in the Swiss apprenticeship program (p.2).

 (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

“The United States faces a huge challenge to meet the demand for skills, especially in ‘middle skilled’ jobs….At the same time, the US education system faces ongoing pressure to improve equity, reduce dropout rates, and serve the needs of diverse students—all on a tight budget. While VET specifically is not the panacea to all these problems, a permeable education system with multiple levels and types of degrees opens a path to lifelong learning and skills improvement that a silo-bound or all-academic system cannot offer” (p.18). “Past efforts to increase VET in the United States have focused on school-based VET, company-specific training, exclusively post-secondary training, and labor market integration….[A] new generation of effort[s] is very similar to the Swiss model….This approach can help the United States develop upper-secondary VET programs with significant workplace training, employer engagement, strong education-employment linkages and permeability throughout the education system” (p.19). “Swiss companies see apprenticeships as a strategy for building a talent pool. Therefore, they have a strong interest in investing in the next generation of skilled workers. Apprenticeship offers great benefits to companies, and decreases their recruitment costs. Some Swiss firms have set up apprenticeship programs at their US locations, showing the way for developing and implementing apprenticeship programs inspired by the Swiss model in the US” (p.24). “With a Swiss-style apprenticeship model available in the US,…companies can benefit from being able to train their people on the job, for any skilled positions where the labor market lacks the available professionals. This should encourage businesses to set up an entity in the US as they will be able to train young professionals to develop the right expertise. A better-skilled workforce leads to higher productivity as well as better innovation capabilities….[Ultimately,] foreign and domestic companies will have an additional means of recruiting well-trained people [and] will not to be tied or limited by a lack of resources” (p.25). VET also benefits young people by providing the following: - a prestigious education pathway - flexibility regarding future career options - skills and knowledge aligned with the labor market - no student debt (p.26). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)