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The Swiss Voacational Education and Trainig Initiative India

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Ursula Renold, Franz Probst (Eds.)

The Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India

Background, Concept and Results of the Pilot Project 2008–2013

ISBN 978-3-0355-0375-3



First Edition printed in 2016

All rights reserved

© 2016 hep verlag ag, Berne



Table of contents

Foreword by the chairman of the Swiss Employers Confederation

Foreword by the president of Swissmem

Foreword by the chairman of NSDA and NSDC

Introduction by the editors

Part I  A comparison of two education systems


The Swiss education system, with a special focus on vocational education and training Maria Esther Egg and Ursula Renold

The Indian education system and the challenges of vocational education and training Ursula Renold and Vipul Agarwal

Part II  Background, point of departure and guiding principles


Vocational education and training in India – a Swiss development cooperation success story Richard Gerster

Dynamic development of Swiss-Indian bilateral economic relations Daniel Freihofer

The requirements of the Swiss machine and precision mechanics industry Contributions by companies

The situation in India before the start of the project in 2008 Franz Probst

Five guiding principles for introducing elements of the dual vocational education and training system in India Ursula Renold

Part III  Innovative concept with a systemic approach


Dual vocational education and training in a country without tradition of workplace training – the «role model concept» Ursula Renold

The role of the Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce (SICC) Franz Probst

Part IV  The pilot projects in Pune and Bangalore 2008–2013


2008 feasibility study José Oberson

Project organisation, planning and findings Franz Probst

Developing a need-based framework curriculum for polytechnicians Arthur W. Glättli and Peter Stössel

Training the teachers, VET trainers and examination experts Hanspeter Tanner and Martin Nydegger

India’s point of view – Interview with G. P. Chandra Kumar, Project Director India Franz Probst

Part V  Proof of concept and conclusions


Pilot project – Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India – Evaluation Barbara Haering and Ladina Rageth

From a public-private project to a permanent partnership Franz Probst

Part VI  Conclusions and authors

Editors’ concluding remarks

About the authors

Part VII  Annexes

Memorandum of Understanding with State of Karnataka

Memorandum of Understanding with State of Maharashtra

Final diploma with marks card of multi-skilled production technician

Targets and achievements of the pilot project: Overview

List of abbreviations

List of figures

Foreword by the chairman of the Swiss Employers Confederation

«Learning for Jobs» is a cross-national comparative study of vocational education and training systems published by the OECD in 2010.[1] Many countries complain of high unemployment among the youth, or the complete lack of practical educational training oriented to meeting the demands of the employment market. Vocational education and training became the core challenge of many emerging economies in the 21st century. While university education is well developed, and even very well developed for a small section of the population in most of these countries, there is a shortage of professionals with on-the-job training in almost every field. This grievance is not restricted to the local authorities or business representatives but is also the experience of Swiss companies operating their production plants in the corresponding countries. It was these organisations that articulated their needs to the former Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology (OPET) on the occasion of the 2007 Science Mission in India, and that finally gave the impetus to launch the pilot project.

The increasing international integration of the economy has translated into new challenges regarding qualifications in many countries. The challenges are varied in nature. In Switzerland, we have to improve intercultural competence and language development in the entire education system to ensure our young professionals are fit for the globalised economic environment. The emerging economies on the other hand must qualify their respective «pyramids of professionals in an organisation» if they want to be successfully involved in global economic growth. These emerging economies require highly qualified professionals over the entire spectrum of the talent scale to ensure economic growth, as well as to export their goods and services. While they usually have a very well-qualified workforce in the academic sense, they lack the practical skills. Swiss companies that cannot find any highly qualified technical professionals in the local employment market are particularly affected by this situation. Considering the regressive demographic development in Switzerland, they are also unable to simply rely on the domestic employment market for young professionals. Switzerland, as a high-price country with quality leadership in numerous products, therefore especially needs to develop its own initiatives. If the Swiss companies want to grow in the emerging economies and maintain their high quality at the same time, they require a workforce that is trained for the corresponding state-of-the-art technology and qualified for precision work.

The Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India is a highly promising innovation that provides answers to the challenges of Swiss industry and to the challenges in the respective target country. The first apprentices have completed their training in India and the pilot project will be migrated to a sustainable form and expanded.

This approach is fundamentally different in comparison to the official Swiss vocational education and training activities that have been conducted to date until now. This is because Swiss industry is responsible for the transfer of training knowledge and not the government. As in Switzerland, the organisations in India should be able to define the content of education and training and play a significant role in specifying the qualification standards to be achieved. This ensures that the acquired qualifications really do match the needs and the technological standards of the companies. As Chairman of the Swiss Employers Confederation, and also as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Burckhardt Compression, an organisation that is participating in the development of dual vocational education and training in India, I emphatically support this initiative.

I hope that Swiss industry can satisfy its demand for highly qualified, practically trained professionals in the target markets with complete satisfaction and that many local young professionals will benefit from it and receive a high-quality professional perspective enabling them to enter the domestic and international employment market. If dual vocational education and training achieves more recognition internationally, this will also help Switzerland to raise the status of vocational education and training.


Swiss Employers Confederation


Valentin Vogt



Berne, June 2016

Foreword by the president of Swissmem

The Swiss vocational education and training system, which is oriented towards the needs of the economy, offers numerous options for advanced education and training, and is strongly anchored in Swiss business culture and society, is unique in the world. Besides the technical abilities and competences, it is the soft skills acquired through productive work during their training that transform young people who have completed their primary school education into sought-after employees: they meet customer requirements, act independently, find creative solutions and have a high awareness of quality. Innovative ability and increased productivity based on these attributes are also key factors for the sustained competitiveness of the Swiss electrical and mechanical engineering and metal industries.

Swiss companies are aware of the value of vocational education and training (VET), and are therefore willing to invest in the education and training of professionals. Globally active companies have started establishing worldwide training systems in their organisation structures. For this reason, Swissmem has also been called upon to assist in the international education and training activities of its member companies.

The Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India is a good example. Thanks to the close cooperation among VET experts in Switzerland and India, the commitment of Swiss subsidiaries in India and cooperative government authorities and institutions in both countries, VET programmes have been set up to help meet the urgent need for highly trained personnel. I hope this project will continue to flourish and will set a precedent in other countries as well.


Hans Hess

President of Swissmem


Zurich, June 2016

Foreword by the chairman of NSDA and NSDC

Greetings from India!


As one of the largest and most ancient nations in the world, India is at a very interesting juncture, as it is also becoming one of the ‹youngest› nations when you consider the average age of its citizens. Millions of young Indians are entering the workforce – 12 million each year to be exact. India’s growing economy is demanding skilled people all the way from ‹shop floors to top floors›. Just like the many Indians who leapfrogged to mobile phones, bypassing traditional landlines, so too in terms of skills we need to leapfrog to a generation with 21st century skills.

The Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India (SVETII) is therefore the right solution at the right time. There is much to learn from the Swiss dual-track model, where both government and industry roles are well understood and where both feel equally responsible. The apprenticeship model has great potential in India but will take time to take root because of the inherent complexities of the system. But there is no better way to learn than by doing, and this is being increasingly understood here in India.

By working together with Indian industry and other stakeholders, the Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India will gain more and more ground. I would urge the Swiss government and Swiss industry to build stronger ties with their counterparts in India in order to bring about a mutually beneficial relationship.

I wish the Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India the very best – I have no doubt that it will succeed.


Subramaniam Ramadorai

Chairman, National Skill Development Agency (NSDA), India

Chairman, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), India


Mumbai, June 2016

Introduction by the editors

Vocational education and training has become a very important topic since the beginning of the 21st century (OECD 2015; Biavaschi et al. 2012; Hoffman 2011; OECD 2010a; OECD 2010b). This is firstly related to the somewhat precarious youth employment situation, and secondly to emerging economies being unable to find qualified professionals in various industry segments (McKinsey 2012). While the general level of education has increased in almost all countries, the qualification profiles of young educated professionals often do not match the competences demanded by the labour market.

India, as an emerging economy, is one of the countries making rapid strides in this field. Globalisation as well as economic and social interdependence are reflected in the organisational structure, while the need for qualified professionals is just as varied. The thriving business relations between Switzerland and India are testimony to this development. Export relations as well as direct investments have intensified in the past few years. These developments are expected to be sustained, and emerging countries in particular are expected to be among the economic superpowers of the future. Swiss industry is therefore interested in good trade relations with these countries, and is stimulating bilateral relations through different measures.

Gaining the quality edge in competition requires qualified personnel

The Swiss economy is one of the most competitive in the world (Schwab, Sala-i-Martín, & World Economic Forum 2014). Its comparative advantages vis-à-vis international competitors are often due to its qualitative prominence rather than due to price (Strahm 2008, p. 159). To ensure high quality is achieved worldwide, even international Swiss companies have to rely on highly qualified personnel. The recruiting of academically qualified professionals does not usually pose a problem. However, there is a lack of qualified professionals with practical expertise who can measure up to the technological state of development of Swiss companies. Yet they are indispensable in order to exploit the growth potential in the country.

The shortage of qualified professionals with practical education and training to a high technological standard is generally one of the biggest challenges in emerging economies. The reasons for the shortage of such professionals are many, some of which include the structure of the education system, the employment market regulations or the fact that the local industry does not predominantly manufacture to the same technological standards as the international companies based there. While governments invest a lot in general education and academic fields in most countries, the simultaneous development of a vocational education and training system oriented towards the needs of the employment market is neglected.

India is regarded as the country with the least proportion of youth being trained in vocational education and training (Mehrotra et al. 2014). On average, only about two per cent of the people employed in India have undergone vocational education and training (Mehrotra 2014). There are various reasons for this. The education system of countries with a colonial background is characterised by the colonial power’s historical type of education system. Lang-Wojtasik (2013) considers this as a crucial characteristic «in which notions about education are institutionalised to promote colonial management. There have been significant attempts particularly in the area of higher education to establish national educational institutions that embody a national mindset and the principles of colonial power» (p. 217). In India’s case, it is the British education system which has exerted an enduring influence. Education, including vocational education and training, takes place in the context of schools or universities. Consequently, the discrepancy between supply and demand in the job market is largely dependent on the country and the economy’s level of development. A so-called skills mismatch is prevalent (OECD 2015; ILO 2014). This does not apply to emerging economies alone; it can even be seen in Europe or in North America (Renold et al. 2014, Manufacturing Institute 2011). This disparity between academically educated professionals and the demand in the job market has been further aggravated in many European countries by the current economic difficulties.

The systems for general education are not solely to blame for the lack of practically qualified professionals in Indian industry. Vocational education and training systems that are oriented to the demands of the employment market and that can keep abreast with technical developments in industry are less common across the world. They usually also have low prestige among the population. This is a particular challenge, especially in India, owing to the social strata and the caste mentality that continues to prevail. Only the German speaking countries of Europe, in which the dual vocational education and training system[2] is deeply anchored, enjoy a long tradition in this regard, and thus have a certain prestige. Along with tradition, perceptions of value or history, there are other factors that could explain these countries’ deep involvement in vocational education and training. Studies in political science have shown that the typological differences in capitalist economic systems provide another explanation (see Finegold 1999; Hall & Soskice 2001; Thelen 2004, among others). Hence, the so-called coordinated market economies distinguish themselves because they have well-established social partnerships, manage salary negotiations at system level, and their companies cooperate with each other. In contrast, there is a lack of coordination among the organisations and the social partners in so-called liberal market economies. Competition is the key guiding factor and this occasionally has an effect on the attitude towards vocational education and training. Competition comes before cooperation. This makes it difficult to introduce vocational education and training at a system level in a comparable measure to that in German speaking countries. Without central institutions, such as the professional organisations (also called industry associations) in Switzerland, which regulate cooperation between companies, it would probably be difficult to develop an actual vocational education and training system that has strong support from industry. Business associations exist in India as well. However, they have not yet addressed operative educational topics systematically, until now, and they act only at the politico-strategic level.

To summarise, it can be ascertained that globalisation and internationalisation of the economy are leading to permanent complaints about the lack of highly qualified professionals in these countries as well. The multitude of international companies that, based on their own experience, are aware of the advantages of the vocational education and training system oriented towards the employment market are asking for measures to be implemented for the training of professionals. The low awareness level, the focus on dual vocational education and training in the German language region, as well as the influence of the colonial powers and their educational tradition in the emerging economies are also reasons why there are no role models for dual vocational education and training concepts in the developing economies.

From company-specific self-help initiatives to government commitment

The advantages of the Swiss vocational education and training system are brought to mind particularly by Swiss companies with production locations overseas when their growth is impeded by the lack of local practically trained professionals. As the accounts of Swiss companies in this book show, companies implemented different self-help initiatives in the past to raise the qualification standards of the local professionals in their own organisations, and in this way to remain competitive. This was possible especially for the larger companies. For small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), this is a problem because of the high costs. As more and more SMEs have been investing directly in India in the past years, professionals with similar skills to Swiss workers are also in demand in SMEs, and it is necessary to implement a systematic approach that allows even small companies to offer dual VET.

Numerous public vocational education and training programmes have been initiated in India to gear the country up to face the new challenges. The article by Ursula Renold and Vipul Agarwal summarises some of the important developments. A major obstacle in societies with an Anglo-Saxon school tradition is the lack of prestige associated with vocational education and training in particular, and more generally because there is a lack of commitment from the industries themselves. Vocational education and training is usually associated with blue collar work. It shows no promise for the future of the youth in the eyes of the majority of the population. In addition, there is no permeability between the individual educational programmes. As a result, it is difficult for both the government and industry to break this vicious circle by introducing appropriate measures.

Where vocational education and training schools exist, there are few opportunities to give them access to the latest state-of-the-art technology in line with the rapid transformation of the working world. Government authorities lack not just the know-how but usually also the financial options to equip the school infrastructure on an ongoing basis and to provide advanced training and qualifications for the teachers. The inertia of school-centric vocational education and training and the narrow financial margin diametrically oppose the rapid technological progress of emerging economies, which results in organisations’ increased dissatisfaction with local young professionals. However, even young professionals are affected by this, because entering the employment market becomes difficult for those without appropriate training opportunities. The Indian government strategy announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2007 (National Skill Development Policy) to vocationally train over 500 million young Indians by 2022 is very welcome (Government of India 2009; Mehrotra, Gandhi & Sahoo 2013, p. 26). However, education requires time, and this is therefore a highly ambitious target, which will need much help if it is to be achieved.

Vocational education and training initiatives from across the world

Many governments around the world are trying to improve the condition of Indian education through cooperation and private export of services. These governments are often supported financially by the Indian government. In a country like India, in which over 30 million young people are supposed to complete any form of professional education each year, all initiatives are welcome (Mehrotra, Gandhi & Sahoo 2013). It remains to be seen which of these initiatives will be sustainable, and whether the government will be able to continue to provide greater funding.

Switzerland is one of these numerous foreign actors involved in the initiatives described in this book. Due to its strategic choices and financial options a country like Switzerland can occupy only a niche within the range of available models that exist globally. In addition, Switzerland wants to approach this niche with a solution that differs from those of other countries: The companies themselves – not public actors – must take the lead and make a commitment to their own young professionals in line with the motto: No employment market oriented vocational education and training without substantial commitment from industry.

Broadening the perspective: a systemic approach to vocational education and training

The idea behind the Swiss vocational education and training initiative is to involve private companies in a pilot project and implement a dual VET role model on site in a number of Swiss companies. This would be comparable to our dual VET and would integrate the current Indian vocational education institutions. This should first give rise to a role model, as described in Part III of this book, which would create acceptance in companies and among the public and take into consideration all factors relevant to the system. The objective is to improve the competitiveness of the companies, while simultaneously contributing towards alleviating the poverty of trained professionals and their families. This model differs from Switzerland’s current efforts to improve vocational education and training in India in that it creates a bridge between the institutions imparting professional education and a cluster of companies that provide training for the same occupation. Industries are encouraged to work together, because there must be agreement on what content should be taught in these professions and how the professional education institutions and companies should use their respective comparative advantages to capitalise on their strengths when providing training.

This initiative requires a series of follow-up projects in order to ensure its long-term success. The pilot project described in this book is merely an initiation phase implemented to achieve a type of proof of concept. Over the next ten to twenty years, partnerships between national and local authorities, professional associations, coordinating entities, educational institutions and other actors are to be tested and developed in the corresponding regions, and sustainability is to be created.

Since the professional associations of the employment system (formerly industry associations) have a major role to play in creating framework curricula and drafting ordinances in Switzerland, it is essential that a corresponding professional association or – from a functional point of view – another coordinating entity is prepared to collaborate. As such, complex institutional arrangements can be realised only in the medium or long term, and interim solutions in the form of private intermediary institutions for the pilot phase are also needed. The target in the medium term is for the Swiss professional association to provide its know-how in the development of vocational education and training to the partner organisation or the participating companies against a licence fee, help with the implementation and monitor the quality of the training being conducted. Viewed in this light, we can speak of an export of services. The regional vocational education and training institutes are included as much as possible in the schooling part, with the Indian government bearing the costs here, too – as in Switzerland – so that vocational education and training can be offered without significant costs for the Indian students. This would improve the equal opportunities in the education system.

The Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India has several objectives. The main one is to enable small and medium-sized Swiss companies to train their young professionals themselves in their own company and to the required level of quality, for which they would be supported by their professional association’s competence centre. In this way, they would also be shaping the qualification standards in the industry to a certain extent and contributing to worldwide acknowledgement of vocational education and training as an institution. However, this initiative also aims to contribute towards integrating young Indians as broadly as possible into the employment market, enabling them to have access to vocational and private prospects, and thus reducing the deep-seated values regarding prestige. Last but not least, the provisions of the employment market regulations will be linked meaningfully with education.


This book describes the background, concepts and results of the Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India. Part I consolidates the important elements of the Swiss and Indian education and vocational education and training systems. Part II presents the background, point of departure and the guiding principles for the pilot project from various perspectives, and describes the various approaches taken to date by the private sector and the state in the area of vocational education and training. Part III describes the conceptual aspects of this innovation and the challenges that need to be overcome. Part IV forms the core of the book. This section explains in detail the development and implementation of both pilot projects in Pune and Bangalore. Part V gives a summary of the evaluation results and highlights the model approach’s development potential. In the final part, the editors draw conclusions based on the results.

As is often the case in all innovative projects, many people were also involved in the pilot project of the Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India. They often provided their services and support free of charge. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who were willing to support the idea of this very risky project by providing personnel or funding, and who have thus enabled many young people in the world to have access to vocational education and training. On the Swiss side, we would like to thank the following people and institutions: Federal councillors Doris Leuthard and Johann Schneider-Ammann, who supported the initiation and execution of the project, the members of Swissmem responsible for the initiative, as well as the Swiss Employers Confederation, the Swiss Indian Chamber of Commerce, officials of the former Federal Office for Professional Education and Technology (OPET) as well as the current State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), the Swiss Embassy and the Swiss General Consulate in India, members of the Federal Vocational and Professional Education and Training Commission, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) as well as the evaluators of the pilot project. On the Indian side, we would like to thank the national authority representatives as well as the regional authorities of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat, the FICCI and CII chambers of industry, the dedicated staff at the National Skill Development Agency and the National Skill Development Corporation, who encouraged us to persevere in the challenging journey until we reached the finishing line. They encouraged us to apply a bottom-up approach to the pilot project, acquire the support of companies, involve local vocational education and training schools and train Indian teachers for our special requirements. Our special thanks go to the local implementation partner Nacks Venture in Bangalore and SkillSonics in Bangalore and Zurich, who made the success of the project possible in a short space of time and with great flexibility, together with all the Swiss participants. We would also like to thank all the authors for their readiness to provide a summary of their experiences, thus making the accomplishments accessible to a wide group of interested people. We hope this book will also contribute towards identifying the opportunities and risks involved in adapting the dual vocational education and training model in other countries, and help many other organisations and actors in the working world to develop their own internationalisation strategies.

With the Swiss Vocational Education and Training Initiative India, the editors are convinced that Switzerland has initiated a form of bilateral cooperation which will help not only to provide a perspective within the country and internationally but will also contribute to increasing the prestige of vocational education and training worldwide.

Word of thanks for financial support

Publication of this book in English and German was made possible thanks to the generous financial support of Swissmem and the Johann Jacob Rieter Foundation.

We would also like to thank Ms Esther Reist, Ms Lynn Grob and Hylia Ismaili of Probst Partner AG, as well as Maria Esther Egg, Johanna Kemper, Thomas Bolli and Katie Caves of the Education Systems research division at ETH Zurich’s KOF Swiss Economic Institute for their valuable support. Finally, we wish to thank Glenn Zasman, Luxemburg, for his excellent and efficient editing services.


Zurich, June 2016


Ursula Renold

Franz Probst


Biavaschi, C., Eichhorst, W., Giulietti, C., Kendzia, M., Muravyev, A., Pieters, J., Rodríguez-Planas, N., Schmidl, R., & Zimmermann, K. F. (2012). Youth Unemployment and Vocational Training. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6890.

Finegold, D. (1999). Creating Self-Sustaining, High-Skill Ecosystems. Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 15(1) (pp. 60–81.)

Government of India (2009). National Skill Development Policy. www.skilldevelopment.gov.in/assets/images/NationalSkillDevelopmentPolicy-Mar09.pdf [accessed on 7.9.2015].

Hall, P. A., & Soskice, D. W. (Eds.) (2001). Varieties of Capitalism: The Institutional Foundations of Comparative Advantage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hoffman, N. (2011). Schooling in the Workplace: How Six of the World’s Best Vocational Education Systems Prepare Young People for Jobs and Life. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Education Press.

ILO (2014). Skills Mismatch in Europe. Statistic Brief. Geneva: International Labour Organization.

Lang-Wojtasik, G. (2013). Das Bildungswesen in Indien. In: C. Adick (Ed.), Bildungsentwicklungen und Schulsysteme in Afrika, Asien, Lateinamerika und der Karibik (pp. 213–231). Munster: Waxmann.

Manufacturing Institute (2011). Boiling Point? The Skills Gap in U. S. Manufacturing. www.themanufacturinginstitute.org/Research/Skills-Gap-in-Manufacturing/2011-Skills-Gap-Report/Selected-Charts/Selected-Charts.aspx [accessed on 15.8.2015].

McKinsey (2012). The World at Work: Jobs, Pay, and Skills for 3.5 Billion People. O.O.: McKinsey Global Institute.

Mehrotra, S. (Ed.) (2014). India’s Skills Challenge: Reforming Vocational Education and Training to Harness the Demographic Dividend. New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Mehrotra, S., Gandhi, A., & Sahoo, B. K. (2013). Estimating India’s Skills Gap on Realistic Basis for 2022. Economic and Political Weekly, 48(13).

Mehrotra, S., Raman, R., Kumra N., Kalaiyarasan, & Röss, D. (2014). Vocational Education and Training Reform in India, Business Needs in India and Lessons to be Learned from Germany. Gütersloh: Bertelsmann Stiftung.

OECD (2010a). Reviews of Vocational Education and Training. Paris: OECD.

OECD (2010b). Off to a Good Start? Jobs for Youth. Paris: OECD.

OECD (2015). Skills Outlook 2015. Paris: OECD.

Renold, U. (2002). Der dritte Lernort im Spiegel des Berufsbildungsgesetzes – unter institutionellen, ökonomischen Aspekten und Gesichtspunkten der Kooperation Wirtschaft – Staat. In: W. Goetze, P. Gonon, A. Gresele, S. Kübler, H. Landolt, N. Landwehr, R. Marty, U. Renold & P. Egger (2002), Der dritte Lernort: Bildung für die Praxis, Praxis für die Bildung (pp. 73–86). Berne: hep.

Renold, U., Bolli, T., Egg, M. E., & Pusterla, F. (2014). On the Multiple Dimensions of Youth Labour Markets: A Guide to the KOF Youth Labour Market Index. KOF Studies, No. 51. Zurich: KOF.

Schwab K., Sala-i-Martín, X., & World Economic Forum (2013). The Global Competitiveness Report 2013–2014. Basingstoke: Palgrave McMillan.

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Timeline: from the idea to the completion of the evaluation



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Part I  A comparison of two education systems

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Comparing the vocational education and training systems of different countries is no easy task. Vocational education and training systems are embedded in a cultural, financial, political and historical context. In the case of India, we also have to remember that its education system was shaped by the British colonial power. Although much has changed since India’s independence on 15 August 1947, various features of the current education system still resemble those of the Anglo-Saxon education system.

Ursula Renold’s and Vipul Agarwal’s description of India’s vocational education and training system helps us to understand how the VET system is structured and embedded in the whole education system. It also outlines the challenges India faces with respect to integrating its young people into the labour market.

Switzerland’s education system, and especially its vocational and professional education and training (VPET), is renowned worldwide for its successful outcomes. Ursula Renold and Maria Esther Egg provide a comprehensive overview of the Swiss VPET system. Special emphasis is laid on the role of the VPET system within Switzerland’s education framework, VPET’s governance aspects and the curriculum value chain. The authors also emphasise the importance of permeability and transition mechanisms between the different education levels, and they provide several key facts and figures.

Descriptions of the two education and training systems follow a largely similar pattern. The structure of the education system stands in the centre, made up of general framework conditions like governance, financing, coordination between subsystem actors, and the curriculum value chain describing all educational processes.

The Swiss education system, with a special focus on vocational education and training
Maria Esther Egg and Ursula Renold

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SVETII meeting during the 2009 feasibility mission, Bangalore

One of the main objectives of any educational system is to equip young people with the competences and skills that firms demand in the labour market. In this chapter, we describe the Swiss education system and its approach to integrating young people into the labour market, and explore in particular its vocational education and training (VET) system. We start out by providing some facts and figures about the Swiss education system and the Swiss economy. We then move on to describing the Swiss education system, which consists of both general education and vocational education programmes. At the same time, we touch on the transition options available and the permeability of the system. We also highlight the VET system’s legal aspects and explain its governance. These aspects form the basis of the system. Furthermore, we explain Switzerland’s curriculum value chain process, since the quality of education programmes is highly dependent on the underlying educational curricula. It is important to know how these curricula are developed, as they shed light on important aspects of the system’s high efficiency. In the penultimate section of this chapter, we discuss the financing of the VET system and round off the chapter with possible approaches for improving the Indian VET system from a Swiss perspective.

Facts and figures on Switzerland’s education and economy

Switzerland’s population is highly educated with a literacy rate of over 99 per cent. Moreover, most residents have a post-compulsory school-leaving certificate as their level of highest education, of which 47.8 per cent have an upper-secondary II education certificate and 40.2 per cent a tertiary level degree (2014; data BFS 2015). Accordingly, only 12 per cent of the population hold just a compulsory school-leaving status.

As for the labour market, Switzerland had a participation rate of almost 70 per cent, with the unemployment rate at a level of 4.7 per cent in 2014 (data FSO 2015). The youth unemployment rate of 8.6 per cent (FSO 2015) points to the good labour market situation for young people. The KOF Youth Labour Market Index in Figure 1 shows that Switzerland and Germany enjoy high values in comparison to India and the OECD countries (for more information, see Renold, et al. 2014, Renold / Bolli 2014). It is therefore not surprising that Switzerland – according to World Bank[3] statistics – had a GDP of approximately 55,000 US dollars per capita in 2013 (purchasing power parity constant 2011) and an average monthly wage of about 6,100 US dollars (FSO 2015) in 2012. In addition, Switzerland is very active in the creation of innovations, as its first place in the INSEAD Global Innovation Index 2014[4] testifies.

These figures lead one to ask where the differences lie between Switzerland and India, and how can similarly good economic conditions be replicated? A common view, based on Becker’s human capital theory (Becker 1964), is that cross-linking of the education system and the labour market in a country is of key importance. Becker’s theory asserts that a good education system provides the knowledge and skills needed in the labour market. In applying this theory to Switzerland, we can see that the Swiss education system and labour market are in fact very closely connected to each other. The part of the education system that provides the knowledge and skills for the labour market is vocational and professional education and training (VPET), based on the upper-secondary II and tertiary level. VPET trains highly-qualified employees for various types of occupations, thus covering the labour market demands and boosting the Swiss economy (SBFI 2014). On average, two-thirds of a youth cohort choose a vocational education and training programme option leading to a Swiss federal VET diploma. The remaining third will acquire an academic baccalaureate or another general education qualification. To help provide an understanding of why VET is such an attractive option, we describe below the Swiss education system, which comprises academic education as well as vocational education and training.

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Figure 1: The youth labour market situation in Switzerland (yellow), Germany (blue), India (red) and OECD countries (light blue). The higher the indicator’s value, the better the situation is. A value of 0 means that no data is available. Compiled by the authors

The Swiss education system

Like most education systems, Switzerland’s can be divided into three levels: primary, secondary and tertiary. The secondary level comprises lower-secondary I and upper-secondary II education. The primary and lower-secondary levels together form the compulsory education part, which begins at the age of six and ends about nine years later.

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Figure 2: The Swiss education system at a glance. The solid line represents direct access to the next degree course. The dotted line indicates that additional qualifications or practical experience are required to proceed to the next course of study. Source: SBFI (2014)

2.1 Transition pathways between compulsory school and upper-secondary II education

After completing compulsory school education, students continue with upper-secondary II education (see Figure 2). At this level, the young people have the choice between two main pathways: vocational education and training or general education. Various measures have been put in place to ensure the smooth transition between compulsory education and upper-secondary II education.

One such measure is the provision of numerous independent career information centres (CIC) that support the students in their search for and decision-making process regarding an appropriate education programme, taking into account their interests and abilities. The centres provide unbiased information about all possible educational programmes and can also be consulted for career decisions later in life (SDBB/CSFO 2008).

After visiting the CIC, students are encouraged to get a deeper insight into the desired fields of study or occupations, whether by attending information sessions, taking short «sniffing courses» or pre-apprenticeships (from one or two days up to a week) in companies. In this way, students can compare the expectations they have of the occupation or course with the reality in order to make an informed decision. However, this is only the first step towards their dream job. The second step involves being accepted in the chosen education programme or company.

The possible entry barriers for general education are the students’ grades or an entrance examination, depending on the canton. In VET, students need to find an apprenticeship position at a company in the desired occupation. The search for an apprenticeship position and the application process on the apprenticeship market is designed along similar lines to job searching in the labour market (SBFI 2014, p. 11). This means that students have to find an open apprenticeship position and apply by sending a letter of application. From the received applications, the companies invite suitable candidates for an interview. Thereafter, the companies are free to choose which candidates they want to hire as apprentices.

In addition, there is an early support programme, the Case Management System, for students who are at greater risk of dropping out of the education system at this level, or are at risk of not finding an education opportunity. This programme was launched in cooperation with the federal and the cantonal authorities in 2006, with the aim of better coordinating the existing support measures of various institutions so as to offer the students a customised solution[5].

Despite the support measures in place, some students do not find a suitable education opportunity after their compulsory education. Possible reasons are indecision concerning the future course of studies, failure to find an apprenticeship position in the desired area or company, failing the entry exam or obtaining insufficient grades to continue studying in one of the general education programmes. Regardless of the reason, the state offers bridge options to overcome the intermediate year. Students are encouraged to undertake a tenth school year, look for a pre-apprenticeship, take part in a preparatory course, or go abroad for an exchange semester to learn a foreign language.

The purpose of all these measures is to prevent students from dropping out of the education system without a post-compulsory qualification. Furthermore, these measures are intended to increase the students’ satisfaction with regard to their choice and keep the drop-out rate as low as possible. Statistics show that these measures are working, as around 95 per cent of students complete post-compulsory education (SBFI 2015a, p. 14).

The courses at upper-secondary II level lead to a variety of diploma and certificates that qualify the student for tertiary education and / or the labour market. The VET qualifications include the Federal VET Certificate, which lasts two years, and the Federal VET Diploma, which takes three to four years depending on the chosen occupation. VET students can complete the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate parallel to or after the Federal VET Diploma. This qualification is optional and intended for academically stronger students who wish to continue with an academic education at tertiary level. The education diplomas in general education, which usually last three to four years, are the baccalaureate or the specialised baccalaureate.

2.2 Transition pathways between upper-secondary II and tertiary education

The choice of courses in tertiary education is diverse. The upper-secondary II education diplomas open doors to appropriate tertiary education programmes, for which no entrance examinations are usually required. Some exceptions are study programmes in medicine or other areas with limited study places (e.g. music, design or social work). Figure 2 shows how graduates with a VET diploma have direct access to professional education and training (PET) programmes. They can choose from among 400 different programmes that lead to a Federal PET Certificate or an Advanced Federal PET Diploma. Alternatively, VET graduates can choose one of 450 educational programmes at PET colleges to obtain a college diploma. The entry requirements to one of these pathways is a few years’ previous work experience. The reason is that these pathways are intended to deepen the students’ knowledge in a practical area, and preparing them for a future leadership position.

Students with a general education qualification, however, have direct access to Swiss universities. The baccalaureate entitles them to study at different universities, two federal institutes of technology and at teacher training colleges. The bachelor’s degree takes three years, the master’s degree between one and a half to two years, and the doctorate three to five years. The exact amount of time depends on the degree chosen.

Apart from the direct transition paths, there are also indirect paths, which allow the students to change between the two main pathways. In the 1990s, the federal government introduced the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate for VET students, which opens the doors to universities of applied sciences (UAS). The VET degree is the basis for the Federal Vocational Baccalaureate, as that programme is always undertaken in combination with an apprenticeship (either during or after the basic vocational education and training). The «passerelle» (university aptitude test) is a supplementary examination for VET graduates, which was introduced in 2005, ...

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