Solution found for apprentice exams amid coronavirus interruptions

Some 75,000 apprentices are expected to enter the job market this summer. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Thousands of young apprentices will receive their final certificate and be able to enter the job market this summer despite the interruption to their training caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

This content was published on April 9, 2020 - 15:40

On Thursday, the government announced that a plan has been developed with the cantons to assess the practical and theoretical knowledge of apprentices in their final year of training. Those that receive enough marks to pass will obtain their federal certificate or diplomaExternal link and be able to apply for jobs this summer. Some 75,000 young people in Switzerland are expected to complete their initial vocational training by then.

Some Swiss industry and employee organisations welcomed the agreement. "It will prevent young people with an apprenticeship certificate from having to start their working life with a negative 'crisis stamp'," writes the Swiss Trade Association in a press releaseExternal link.

Around two thirds of Swiss school leavers opt for an apprenticeship, under the country’s dual system of vocational training. This combines learning on the job in a company – and being paid a learning wage – with one to two days of theory at school.

+ Swiss vocational training serves as a model for others

New arrangement

Under the new arrangement, students will not sit for final exams. Instead, marks from course work and practical experience will be used to assess professional and general knowledge.

The practical assessment, usually an exam or evaluation in the training company, will be maintained but various procedures are being developed to ensure compliance with current coronavirus health and safety standards put in place by the government.

In addition, a steering body, which includes professional training partners has been set up to develop solutions for job recruitment and placement.In a statementExternal link, the government stressed that the coronavirus crisis should not weaken vocational training and appealed to training companies to continue to recruit apprentices.

Schools in Switzerland are currently closed to April 26 and even longer in some cantons.

On April 2, the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Education Ministers announced that the schoolyear will not be extended, and secondary students will receive their diplomas despite the school closures caused by the coronavirus pandemic. As part of this, Students in their final year of general or vocational schooling will also receive their diploma provided they pass their courses.

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